It was supposed to be a historic celebration.
Supporters of Hillary Clinton showed up outside the White House on Tuesday night with cardboard cutouts of her face and signs that read “A woman’s place is in the White House” and “Nasty women get things done.”
The mood took a somber turn around midnight, as Donald Trump continued to rack up electoral votes. Chants of “Hillary! Hillary!” became quieter. The crowd of several hundred people, mostly college students, huddled in small groups, anxiously refreshing the election results on their phones.
I can’t believe we’ve done this.
Dylan Gill, 19-year-old student at George Washington University
“I’m worried about my parents. I’m worried about their safety,” said Noura Azeem, a 20-year-old student at George Washington University. Her parents emigrated from Egypt to Youngstown, Ohio.
“I’m worried about all Muslims out there. And that’s not something that anyone should feel,” she said. “No president of the United States of America should make any of their citizens feel that way.”
Jason Traum, a 21-year-old student at George Washington University, shook his head in disbelief as Clinton’s path to victory seemed to disappear.
“Can we just push a button and make Michelle Obama president?” he asked his friends.
Debra Trainham, 55, had come to the White House with her 19-year-old daughter expecting to celebrate the night the first woman was elected to the U.S. presidency.
“I am getting really worried that it’s going to be very bad,” she said. “Women’s rights and human rights are going backwards, and we’re all going to be in trouble.”
Around 1 a.m., small groups of Trump supporters started becoming visible in the crowd and finding each other. Waving “Make America Great Again” signs, they posed for photos with a life-size cutout of the business mogul outside the White House.
“I feel amazing,” said Joan Lebeau, 22, who works for a nonprofit in Washington. “I believed the mainstream media, so I totally thought Clinton was going to win.”
She said she was looking forward to overturning Obamacare, defunding Planned Parenthood and the economic growth that Trump promised.
Flip me off all you want. Trump won, so it’s all good.
Joan Lebeau, 22, at demonstration outside the White House
Some of Trump’s supporters started the “Lock her up!” chant that became a staple of his rallies during the campaign. Daniel Patrick, 23, came into the capital from Arlington, Virginia, in the early hours of Wednesday morning to celebrate Trump’s victory.
“I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump but I would be terrified if Hillary Clinton were our president,” he said. “I’m optimistic that (Trump) will be seeking out good counsel and listening to advice, because he is an outsider.”
For many disillusioned students in the crowd, it had been their first time voting. Several burst into tears, comforting each other as their friends announced the results. Some tore off their “I Voted” stickers and walked away.
Dylan Gill, 19, stood with two quickly improvised signs that read, “Is this really who we are?” and “I can’t believe we’ve done this.”
“I really can’t believe we’ve done this,” he said. “That’s all I’ve got. No one expected this. No one wanted this.”
A small group of Howard University students stood in a circle, holding candles in a silent vigil.
“I think everyone’s numb,” said Najah Lewis, 20. “I’m worried about everything now: being a woman, being a black woman, trying to enter the professional world, being a student, having to pay off my debts – all of it.”
This is a president who wants to make America great – but not for me, for people who look like me.
Taylor Brayney, 19-year-old Howard University student
Her friend Taylor Brayney, 19, said she “couldn’t wrap her head around” what a Trump presidency would look like.
“This is a president who wants to make America great – but not for me, for people who look like me, for people who believe what I believe in,” she said. “He just wants to make America great for people like him.”