The unthinkable started to happen.
Donald Trump, the reality television star who took America by the throat, invigorated half the country with a strain of populist nationalism not seen in recent history. At the same time, he repelled the other half with comments that stooped to outright racism and misogyny.Tuesday night, he looked poised to become the 45th president of the United States.
His election night numbers shocked the nation, leaving in their wake the polling and punditry industries. By press time, Trump’s fabled “hidden voters” had given him the upper hand in Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin, states projected for Clinton. He had also captured a pivotal victory in North Carolina, one of the key battleground states this election season.
The experts said Hillary Clinton, who easily took New Mexico’s five electoral votes, had it in the bag.
They were wrong.
But at Derailed, a bar on Cerrillos Road, Trump supporters don’t seem surprised.
“I knew he was going to take this,” says Jim Williamson, an accountant who lives in Santa Fe but works in Española. “I didn’t pay attention to the polling. Actually, I’m surprised he’s not doing better in New Mexico.”
Williamson wears straight khakis, a winter puff vest and the signature Trump accessory: a red baseball cap emblazoned with the slogan “Make America Great Again,” the message that struck Clinton voters and millions of Americans as a call to authoritarianism. Williamson says Trump’s win is also a victory for his two young sons. “I was concerned with Hillary because of tensions with Russia.”John Block IV, a 19-year-old Trump supporter, grins at a table filled with supporters of Yvonne Chicoine, the Republican district attorney candidate who looked headed for a sound defeat. Block spent the last few weeks installing Trump billboards around town, only to see them repeatedly torn down and ripped apart.
“I am so confident that he will blow it out of the water,” Block tells SFR. “It looks like we’ll keep our country. We will be the United States of America for at least another four years.”
Over at the Democratic Headquarters on Cerrillos Road, Mayor Javier Gonzales attempts to keep the spirits up in a room that starts to feel overcast with dread. “Democrats have been in hard fights all our lives,” he tells the crowd.
The message, by now, feels more like a final prayer, shouted into the wind.
Linda Trujillo, elected to the state House of Representatives, reminds the room that early voting precincts, strongholds for Trump, typically turn in their returns first.
But people start to see the writing on the wall. Some of them head for the doors. After all, they had already broken out the wine and gnawed through the night’s offerings of enchiladas and sheet cakes.
“Not good. This is not the way it was supposed to go,” says Debrianna Mansini, the actress, watching returns on CNN.
“We shouldn’t have to be going through this,” says Basia Miller.
At Crowbar, a mostly empty watering hole for millennials, the emotions are as mixed as the drinks.
“This is crazy,” says Nikos Levenez, sitting at the bar as CNN calls Wisconsin for Trump. Levenez just moved to Santa Fe two months ago and voted for Gary Johnson through an absentee ballot to his home state, California—a Hillary state. He says his conscience is clear. But still, “I can’t believe America didn’t get the message that Trump is a joke. I don’t even think he wants to be president.”
Aaron Banks, the 42-year-old bar owner, says he’s never voted in his life. He doesn’t seem upset by the news though. “They’re all corrupt and I don’t believe in any of them.”
Outside the bar, a man identifies himself to SFR as Robert.
“Trump is going to be president,” he says, taking a drag off his cigarette. “What a fucking joke.”
Read the rest of our election coverage here:
Alternate Time Line
The SFR staff stuck around the newsroom on deadline day longer than we usually do to hit a late publish time. We wanted to have up-to-date election information for everyone. This also meant creating cover art for any eventuality, and you can see them here.