By Ceili Doyle and Jake Gold, The Miami Student
The air whipped around outside the Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters on High Street. Dozens of students walked past 45 East, where the Republican viewing party was being held, to enter the Clinton office with a dream of watching history be made.
Little did they know history would be made Nov. 8, 2016, but not in the way the Miami University College Democrats and Clinton supporters had expected.
“I think a lot of things change for America tomorrow either way,” sophomore Madison Cook said. “I think the struggle is that both sides are pretty polarizing. Either way, we already have a rift in our society. I think it’s incredibly privileged for people to vote for Gary Johnson, but I hope Hillary pulls through with the win.”
Oxford’s mayor, Kate Rousmaniere, briefly visited the Clinton office, wearing an “I’m with her” campaign button.
“I’m really glad that students get involved in politics, and I’m sorry it’s so hateful,” Rousmaniere said. “I’m shocked at some of the modeling of behavior that’s come from the top candidate.”
As of 8:30 p.m., the blog FiveThirtyEight forecasted a 78 percent chance of a win for Clinton.
At Decibel, the College Republicans’ election watch party had started to fill. It began quietly — the general consensus was that the Republicans had a decent chance in Congress, but not the White House. But as the map turned red, the uneasy silence was replaced by more casual conversation.
Their primary focus was on two key Senate elections: Rob Portman (R-OH) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Portman beat former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. Rubio beat the Florida senate democratic nominee, Patrick Murphy. As they focused on the Republican success on Capitol Hill, Trump began to quietly rack up electoral votes.
Even as Trump gained momentum, FiveThirtyEight still gave Clinton a 73 percent chance of victory.
Inside the Clinton campaign office, tensions began to rise amid the crowd of students huddled around two flat screens and several laptops broadcasting election coverage as counties were beginning to be called for various swing states.
Junior Paul McCreary shared his anxiety over Trump gaining ground in Michigan, while ironically sporting a “Make America Great Again” cap decorated with Clinton buttons.
“I’m getting a little nervous just because of how Michigan’s going,” McCreary said. “Whoever gets Michigan will win, because Trump can win Ohio and Florida, and he’ll still lose, but if he takes Pennsylvania or Michigan then he could win pretty easily.”
By 10:44 p.m., FiveThirtyEight had Clinton projected to win at 50 percent, a 13 percent drop from an hour earlier.
Decibel was packed. Swarms of new visitors, excited by Trump’s new odds, joined the party as the GOP candidate’s electoral college lead continued to grow. And as Florida and Ohio votes came in, Trump’s odds were looking better still. At one table, freshmen Lukas Schroeder and Cory Ross watched FiveThirtyEight’s live map and called out results, county-by-county.
“Cuyahoga County is at 92 percent reporting,” Ross said. “I think we have it.”
“This is our Super Bowl,” he said, beaming.
When Ohio was called for Trump, the energy level in the bar grew. When Florida was called for Trump, that level spiked. Students screamed, hugged and high-fived. For a group that had little trust in their candidate just three hours before, their lack of faith was rewarded. Another huge slew of states went to Trump. Barring a huge turnaround in the electoral college, Trump was going to be America’s next president.
As of 11:54 p.m., FiveThirtyEight put Clinton at a 16 percent chance of victory, dropping another 34 percent in just an hour.
The cautious enthusiasm displayed by Clinton’s supporters only four hours before had completely deflated in the face of losing yet another swing state.
The strain of Wolf Blizter bitterly arguing with various pundits on CNN echoed across the stunned faces of the students assembled in the office.
“Let’s not say it’s over,” Blitzer said.
The students sat cross-legged on the floor. Others clutched their drinks, a few more openly cried as a wave of emotion washed over them.
“What could I have done more?” sophomore and member of the College Democrats Julia Koenig said. “This means that America is more racist than we thought. This means that America is more bigoted than we ever thought. This means that our country values themselves more than the general population … which is so disheartening and narcissistic.”
Secretary of the College Democrats, sophomore Charles Kennick, continually ran his hands through his hair and sighed deeply.
“We’re so fucked,” Kennick said. “This is way closer than obviously I thought it was going to be. I’m really concerned at this point of it being 269-269 or Trump winning by a couple votes.
“It’s 12:13 a.m. and at eight o’clock I was ready to pop champagne, and now I’m ready to dig my own grave.”
As a Trump presidency became more likely, there was a mass exodus from Decibel toward Brick Street Bar. As they left, the College Republicans filled the streets with an echoing chant.
“Trump! Trump! Trump!”
Through the excitement, many Trump supporters were left wondering: What happens next? Few, if any, members of the College Republicans believed that Trump could win.
“Even as a Republican, I am completely shocked that Donald Trump will be our next president,” Schroeder said. “I pray he can put this divisive campaign behind us and unify our country to make life better for every American.”
As of 1:39 a.m., the Associated Press called Pennsylvania for Trump and essentially called the whole election.
The democratic stronghold for the Oxford Clinton campaign office was deserted shortly before 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9. While president-elect Donald Trump had yet to give his acceptance speech, the message was loud and clear: Hillary Clinton had lost the 2016 presidential election in a stunning defeat.
The lights in the office had dimmed, leaving only a poorly lit, fluorescent glow on the abandoned “Stronger Together” posters throughout the empty space.