Across the city of Ann Arbor, residents and University of Michigan students, faculty and staff closed down drinking establishments Wednesday morning waiting for the results of the general election.

A viewing party at Ann Arbor Brewing Company was filled to capacity at its start around 9 p.m. with about 300 voters at a watch party hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party organization in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Earlier in the evening, after the polls closed, many in the crowd said they were confident in a Clinton victory, but some remained uncertain. Eyes were fixed on the televisions mounted on the walls of the restaurant as results came in from other states — which would ultimately reveal the victory of President-elect Donald Trump.

Speaking before the race was called, LSA senior Courtney Evans, echoing an ongoing theme among those gathered, said she was feeling increasingly anxious about the results.

“It definitely has a lot of nervous energy, because I think everyone in this room wants it to go one way, but nobody's really sure yet,” she said.

City Councilmember Zachary Ackerman (D–Ward 3), said early in the evening that he was unsurprised by the tension in the room, and that it should be expected during such an unprecedented race.

“I think like in any election cycle, it’s all emotions,” he said. “People are excited for the most qualified president in American history, but they are also nervous because the other side of the fence is quite different, in fact the opposite.”

Fraser’s Pub was similarly packed on Election Night for “Issues and Ale”, a Michigan Radio panel of political analysts and University students moderated by Stateside host Cynthia Canty.

Canty led the discussion throughout the night, commenting on election announcements from CNN as they occurred. As Trump came closer to victory, there were many exasperated cries from students in attendance.

Public Policy graduate students Nashaira Verrier and Eduardo Garcia both stayed until the pub closed at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. Verrier said she was scared for people of color like herself in the U.S. under a Trump presidency.

“Many of the people in this country will feel a sense of uncertainty for quite some time and I’m afraid,” Verrier said. “I’m afraid for what will happen for people who are not white men in this country.”

Garcia, who has worked in national non-governmental organizations in the past, said he saw Trump’s election as the catalyst for a fight to maintain integrity in state and local politics and advance social issues for minorities.

“It means there’s a lot of work that needs to be done at the local and state level to build strong, progressive coalitions of voters that include Black folks, Latino folks, queer folks, people of color, because this is like the rising majority in the United States,” Garcia said.

Among the panelists at Issues and Ale was James Kvaal, former deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and policy director on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, who said the election and news sources polarized voters.

“You see our country as divided as it’s ever been,” Kvaal said. “In part, you see not only do people have different opinions, but they have different facts. It’s not just Fox News versus NBC, but it is people getting their news on Facebook from sources that most of us have never heard of before. We can’t even agree on the shape that our country is in from the basic facts.”

As the race in Michigan specifically became tighter and tighter, with Trump sticking to a slight lead — and the state becoming one of the last to be called — Fraser’s patrons expressed more and more anxiety. University students said they were stunned by how close the count was — Public Policy graduate student Lindsey Coonan said she expected Ohio to be closer than the state, only to have Ohio be called at 10:36 p.m. with 52 percent of the vote. Michigan has yet to be called as of 4:30 a.m.

“I’m shocked,” Coonan said. “I feel like a lot of classmates campaigned in Ohio and we diverted resources to Ohio feeling that that’s where we could be most impactful and in hindsight realized that we should have been phone banking and canvassing in Michigan.”

As national polling results began to put Trump ahead of Clinton in the electoral vote count, morale began to drop among attendees at the Brewing Company. Spirits reached a particularly low point when it was announced that Trump had won the 29 electoral votes in swing state Florida, giving him a lead in total vote count he would maintain through the rest of the night.

In response to the drop, several local Democratic candidates up for election spoke to the crowd about remaining strong as a community regardless of the outcome of the race.

Washtenaw County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, who won his campaign for state representative, said members of the Washtenaw County community, as well as people across the nation, need to uphold basic principles of freedom and respect if Trump were to be elected.

“Whatever happens tonight, we have to remember that we here in this room believe those things,” he said. “Whatever happens tonight, we have to remember that we have this community, we have communities across this country that believe in the founding principles of this nation.”

Ann Arbor resident Rachel Leggett said she was feeling a mix of anxiety and shock at the unfolding results.

“In the primaries, everybody thought it was a joke and that Donald Trump was going to lose,” she said. “Now everybody is really worried and surprised.”

Speaking before the overall race was called, Rabhi said he was worried that the race in Michigan was still so tight so late in the night.

“I am very concerned,” he said. “To think that somebody who is so outwardly and boldly and frankly proudly racist and xenophobic, fascist, sexist, it’s hard to believe that in 2016 we could be on the verge of electing somebody like that.”

The bars closed at 2 a.m., before Michigan or the national results had been announced. Just 10 or so people remained at the Brewing Company at its closing, many of whom said they were going to wait for the final announcements from home.

Ann Arbor resident Jenna Connors, one of the few remaining at the restaurant in hopes of hearing results before closing time, said she wouldn’t be convinced of a Clinton loss until actual results are announced.

“Although most of the country feels as though this has been decided, I still feel very up in the air,” she said. “I will 100 percent be up and know as soon as anything happens, because I think it directly matters to me.”

 

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