It was 10:26 p.m. when Fox News called it: Ohio for Donald Trump.
"Yes!" hollered Dennis Trepeta, standing by the bar inside Founding Father's Pub. "O-H-I-O!"
Winning the midwestern swing state gave the Republican nominee a 167-122 electoral lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton. It was another big step for Trump in a race that many observers didn't anticipate being this closely contested.
Across the room, sitting at a cramped table pushed against the wall, were three millennial Hillary Clinton supporters.
"I didn't expect it to be this close," said Daniel Carosa, who sentiments were quickly amplified by his friend, Pat Kewley.
"I'm pretty terrified," said Kewley, noting that state-by-state projections didn't suggest a race that would be quite this nervewracking for Clinton supporters like him.
"We still have the west coast states," said their friend Nicole Tiedemann, wearing a navy blue "Ready for Hillary" T-shirt pinned with a Bill Clinton button. "That gives me hope."
Back over the bar, the Trump man Trepeta turned to a reporter.
"Write this down," he instructed. "We are the only cluster of Trump supporters in this place."
That wasn't quite true, but the atmosphere inside Founding Father's would almost make it seem that way. The pub was so tightly crammed that people had to push and squeeze past each other to enter or exit or even just use the restrooms. For an event as hotly competitive as election night, that kind of close contact would seem to be a tinderbox for Trump and Clinton.
One spark and they'll explode on each other, right?
Trepeta couldn't see this, but in the back of the room, tables were filled with both Trump and Clinton parties. When good news flashed on screen for Trump, his fans clapped quietly. At the same time, a Clinton supporter sitting in front of them raised her first in the air and extended her middle finger toward the Fox News screen.
They were alternately happy and angry, but not at each other or for each other. They, and their beliefs, simply co-existed.
Separately, the "terrified" Clinton fan Kewley said, jokingly, he'd be more worried if a Republican like Mitt Romney was about to win. Trump, he suggested, would push the country over the edge.
"There may not be a country next week," he said, tongue in cheek. "Who the president is will be the least of my problems."
In the meantime, Trepeta, who recently moved here from Florida and came alone to Founding Father's, was hanging at the bar with one woman and three guys he met that night. Two of the other men had been planning for six months to come to Founding Father's to watch the results. One of them called it "my Super Bowl."
"Here's the real story," said Trepeta, pointing to his red "Make America Great Again" cap. He explained his theory: There are a lot of Trump supporters, he said, who aren't willing to come forward.
To his point: The other three men he was with – all Trump voters – didn't want to give their names for publication. But they were openly cheering Trump. The woman they were hanging with is a supporter of ultra-liberal Green Party candidate Jill Stein. And they were buffered by dozens of Clinton supporters.
The race was unexpectedly tight, yet they were all getting along. Which suggests an early yet uplifting result: Maybe, as the election fades into history, we can simply still get along.
2016 election results:
- Morinello upsets Ceretto; Wallace leads Sugg
- Schumer easily wins re-election to fourth term
- Higgins, Collins cruise to re-election victories
- Jacobs wins 60th District Senate seat
- Flynn wins district attorney race