Local Elections

Sacramento Democrats are stunned and depressed, while Republicans pop champagne

In heavily Democratic Sacramento, the reaction Tuesday night to Donald Trump’s strong national showing ranged from stunned disbelief to fear.

At R15, a bar in midtown Sacramento, with CNN on a television above the bar describing Trump’s lead in critical swing states, 23-year-old Shea McCaslin watched glumly, an empty glass of wine beside her.

She said she was stunned by the results, though she had suspected it would be a close race.

“But not this close,” said McCaslin, a Democrat who works as a political consultant. “I’m pretty worried.”

Nearby at Roxie Deli, Joel Gomez also was shocked. A 38-year-old marketing consultant, Gomez said he was so depressed that he shut off his TV and went out to get a sandwich for dinner.

“I started watching it around 3 o’clock and everything was going good. All the sudden he has a large lead and I was like, ‘I can’t watch no more,’ ” he said. “I’m really kind of scared. I can’t believe there’s that many people who don’t know what’s going on. It’s just amazing to me how many people are blind at this point.”

Early in the night, the state Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Sacramento was prepped for a Clinton win.

There were “Bad Hombre” and “Nasty Woman” buttons, a nod to phrases Trump used during the final debate. Organizers set up a photo booth with an assortment of festive props: A paper cut out of Clinton’s face, colorful hats and signs that read “rise together.”

But the mood was somber by the time would-be revelers started to trickle in around 8:30 p.m. Instead of celebratory cheers, guests jokingly asked about the price of plane tickets to Canada and questioned where they had left their passports. The photo booth wasn’t seeing much action.

“Shock,” said Alison Hertz, a 52-year-old Sacramento resident, to describe the tone in the room.

“I’m not entirely shocked because I worried there might be more closet racists,” responded Randal Indvik, 55, also of Sacramento. “I’m hopeful Trump is less fascist than he seems and he will work with Democrats.”

By 10:15 p.m., the Democratic crowd became noticeably thinner.

Not everyone in Sacramento was disappointed. Joseph Loucas was drinking with friends outside R15. He said he supported Trump over Clinton, but he didn’t think Trump would have a chance.

“I thought Hillary was going to win by a landslide, so this is very surprising,” he said. “Everyone is going with the best of the worst, in my opinion.”

At a Republican gathering in Rancho Cordova, a roar went up each time Fox News called a swing state for Trump.

“How does it feel to win again?” one Trump supporter asked.

About 150 people crowded into the party near the county’s Republican headquarters. They ate sandwiches, pizza and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Champagne bottles popped intermittently, and people kept full glasses of wine.

“It’s going to be a long night, so pace your drinking accordingly,” joked Walter Goodwater, who led Trump’s campaign in Sacramento.

As the night wore on, cheers turned into chants of “lock her up” and “drain the swamp.”

Many were first-time volunteers. Some of the pros insisted they sensed a Trump victory despite polls suggesting otherwise.

“I had a premonition a month and a half ago that Trump would win,” said Sue Blake, chairwoman of Sacramento County’s Republican central committee. “I’m so excited my premonition is coming true.”

Ryan Sabalow: 916-321-1264, @ryansabalow

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