In Fargo, 2 political gatherings held mere blocks and a universe apart
North Dakota Democrats and Republicans both shocked by the Donald Trump victory
Democrats sat stunned, staring at their smartphones. Republicans issued muted, almost disbelieving cheers every time they claimed another state.
That's how a shocking U.S. election night unfolded in Fargo, N.D., where Democrats and Republicans held a pair of "victory parties" about five blocks and an emotional universe away from each other.
The Democratic-NPL — that's the name of the party in North Dakota — held a gathering in the Radisson Hotel's third-floor ballroom, where floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto a pedestrian-devoid stretch of downtown Fargo.
The mood was optimistic until states won by Barack Obama in 2012 started flipping over to Donald Trump. The boos finally materialized when the bellwether state of Florida fell to the Republicans, a defeat that signalled there would not be a Hillary Clinton victory of any sort on Tuesday.
"You hear the racism. You hear the bigotry. It appeals to the base instincts of people," added Marvin Nelson, the failed Democratic-NPL candidate in North Dakota's gubernatorial race.
- 'It's very scary': Election rhetoric has Muslim-American worried about the future
- Along the Red River Valley, the absence of U.S. election signs signifies plenty
Nelson lost by a large margin to Republican Doug Burgum, a software magnate and philanthropist, in a governor's race left wide open by the retirement of six-year GOP governor Jack Dalrymple.
His supporters gathered inside Fargo's Sanctuary Events Centre, where Republicans laughed and shared drinks and confided they really didn't expect the night to end with Trump poised to succeed Obama as U.S. president.
"I was hoping he would, but I just thought the odds were against him," said Steve Varty, a Williston, N.D. resident wearing an American-flag T-shirt.
Sara Rose, a Perham, Minn. Republican, said she expects Trump to moderate his approach now that he's been elected and suggested it may have been something of an act.
"I think some of his tone may have been to get viewers, to get, you know, the public's interest and attention. The media obviously fed off his persona — negative, positive, what have you," she said.
These Democrats and Republicans made their comments late in the evening, hours before Clinton's early-morning concession to Trump.
The Republicans had something to cheer about much earlier in North Dakota, as Burgum defeated Nelson in a lopsided gubernatorial that was called 25 minutes after the polls closed in North Dakota.
Burgum walked on stage to the strains of Bachman-Turner Overdrive's Takin' Care of Business and promptly addressed the divisive "craziness" of the 2016 U.S. election campaign.
"Frustration has drowned out civil discourse and respectful dialogue," he said, urging all Americans to come together and look forward in the weeks and months to come. "We can choose to let fear fall away and imagine our very best selves."
"That could happen. I don't know that I agree with all of his plans as far as trade or foreign policy," said Trump supporter Rose. "But I think he potentially has some great ideas that could definitely work. So, sorry Canadians."