Across Sonoma County on Wednesday, the emotions of a majority of voters ranged from anxiety and anger to disbelief and despair. In a county where voters went more than 3-to-1 for Hillary Clinton, the looming reality of four years with Donald Trump as president was unthinkable.
Some Clinton supporters compared the election’s stunning outcome to a national tragedy. Others said their grief felt similar to that experienced after the death of a family member, a nagging, sinking pit in the stomach.
The overwhelming advantage Democrats hold over Republicans on the North Coast translated to a dejected electorate Wednesday, hours after Trump’s insurgent victory, against the tide of California’s electoral votes and the nearly 70 percent of Sonoma County ballots cast in favor of Clinton. For many of those voters, Trump’s victory was a repudiation of their dearest ideals, including American integrity, civil discourse and a belief in multiculturalism.
“I’m really disappointed with the rest of America,” said Rohnert Park resident Joe Scherone, 60, who voiced deep concerns about what Trump will do to Social Security and benefits for the disabled. He is currently on disability, recovering from a serious car accident a few years ago. “It feels like someone knocked me out, punched me in the stomach.”
At the same time, more than 22 percent of the Sonoma County residents who cast votes for Trump greeted his astounding victory with jubilation that a much-despised political dynasty had come to an end.
“I feel great relief,” said Dave Salaun, 68, a retired police officer who lives in Petaluma. “Granted, Donald has some rough edges, but he’s smart and a good businessman.”
The polar reactions played out at office water coolers, supermarkets, dog parks and cafes. Wednesday night, people upset with Tuesday’s vote gathered at vigils in Sebastopol and on the Sonoma State University campus, as larger demonstrations took place in cities across the nation.
At the Sebastopol Plaza, local activists tied to the group Moveon.org held a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with people of color, immigrants, Muslims, the disabled and those concerned about the environment. Trump’s proposals, behavior and comments on the campaign trail suggest much is at risk for civil rights and the fight against climate change, participants said.
From within a crowd of more than 100 people, organizer Sara McCamant said she was moved in part by “a need not to be alone.”
“We need to come together and say we don’t support the things that Trump has been saying about the world,” she said
Hundreds of people marched at Sonoma State on Wednesday. The crowd started gathering before 8 p.m. at Seawolf Plaza, where students came together to write messages of love and hope in colorful chalk on concrete.
Jason Gorelick, 18, was among the protesters. The sophomore sociology and political science major, who voted for Clinton, grew up in Hong Kong, and said he “for 12 years watched democracy crumble.”
He said his mother called him Wednesday morning, crying.
“She said, ‘I thought I brought you guys to a better place, but maybe not.’ So now I’m angry. I don’t know about everyone else, but I grew up last night.”