Jackie King first felt shock, followed by heartache, tears, a yearning for compassion and then a little hope.

The 21-year-old Maine College of Art student stayed up late watching election results, then she cried herself to sleep. Wednesday, needing to do something, she stood in Monument Square in Portland holding a sign that read, “The Future Is Uncertain: Free Hugs. Love Is Unconquerable and Constant.”

Rita Feeney, a real estate broker from Portland, was “completely elated” Wednesday after a sleepless night spent emailing family and friends and celebrating Trump’s victory. Feeney said she felt relieved that “finally” American voters had picked an independent thinker who will fight for the middle class.

The two women felt the myriad emotions that many Mainers experienced Wednesday after Donald Trump’s stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton for president. The mood in Maine’s cities and towns, schools and workplaces ranged from pure joy for Trump supporters who felt their voice had finally been heard, to soul-shattering disappointment for Clinton loyalists who felt Trump’s victory was fueled by hate. With disappointment came anger, sometimes unrestrained on social media.

On Facebook and Twitter, Trump supporters congratulated each other, restated campaign claims that Clinton is “a criminal” and proudly celebrated Trump as an agent of change. Some Clinton supporters expressed their frustration in profanity-laced posts, calling Trump voters “idiots” or worse. A lot of Mainers pressed the “unfriend” button.

Some Clinton supporters sought advice from each other on how to deal with despair and confrontations. Wednesday morning in South Portland, Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin and high school Principal Ryan Caron emailed their staffs about the election. Kunin mentioned helping students “seek common ground,” while Caron talked about his desire to “respect diverse opinions.”



Some people, like King, were just looking for a little compassion.

“I just felt like people needed to know we’re all here for each other. I really felt the need to put out something positive today,” King said. She began her hugging vigil at 9 a.m., and by 1:30 p.m. she estimated that about 60 people had taken her up on the offer.

“Being here, getting the hugs, has been incredibly healing and comforting to me,” she said.

Dan Broder, 44, of South Portland, echoed the sentiments of many Mainers when he posted Wednesday morning about not knowing exactly how to explain Trump’s victory to his 9-year-old daughter.

“When we went into her room this morning – we didn’t get into too many specifics. I said I thought it was bad. To put it into her language, I told her even Darth Vader had his supporters,” said Broder, who works in biotechnology. “I told her, not everyone agrees with Mom and Dad.”


For South Portland resident and Clinton supporter Greg Goodwill, frustration and anger boiled over Wednesday morning in a series of Facebook rants, some of which made veiled threats of violence. He later apologized on Facebook and vowed to himself to tone it down.

“I really don’t want to get arrested today,” he said in a phone interview after he calmed down. “I have to make sure that I don’t cross a line and have someone knock on my door to make sure I am not really going to hurt somebody.”

His day began with a conversation with his high school-age daughter, who was just as angry as he was about the election results. She didn’t want to go to school, but he convinced her to go.

As he dropped her off at school, father and daughter made a pact. “I told her not to get a detention or get kicked out. I made a deal with her: ‘I won’t get arrested if you don’t get in trouble.’ ”

Still, Goodwill couldn’t help himself. Leaving school, he scooped up a bunch of political signs for Trump, took them home and burned them in his backyard burner – and posted a photo of the deed on Facebook. It felt cathartic. Besides, he figured he was doing a neighborly deed by ridding the streets of outdated signs.



In Wells, farmer and Trump voter Rick Chase celebrated Trump’s victory quietly. He got up and went to work. He didn’t feel the need to gloat – or turn on the TV. He knew Trump won, and that was good enough for him. His vote had less to do with Trump and more to do with Clinton, he said.

“I feel glad that Hillary Clinton isn’t our president,” Chase said. “I don’t know that I am super glad at the rest of it.”

He predicted a Trump victory weeks ago, confident that the media had misread the mood of America – especially rural America. He blamed the national media for the anti-Clinton backlash across middle America, calling the news outlets “a little bit rigged.”

“I think they were trying to sway the votes by their polls and whatnot, so that people thought they might as well vote for Hillary,” he said. “But I didn’t listen to it a whole lot.”

Bob Burke, a Trump supporter from Sedgwick, described his mood Wednesday as one of “guarded optimism.”

“Trump is an outsider,” he said, “and he showed himself to be quite naïve in the political process against someone who is extremely knowledgeable about how politics works.”


Burke, 68, has engaged in many conversations with friends and family about Trump, and he’s urged all of them “to be careful of condemning someone with no proof” and to try to be open-minded about a Trump presidency. “A lot of horrible things were said about both people,” he said.

On Wednesday, Burke told his pro-Clinton friends to be patient. “Change is never easy,” he said.

For many women in Maine, Clinton’s defeat was the smashing of a lifelong dream.

Linda Nelson said she woke up with a broken heart Wednesday morning, aching with the knowledge that her best chance at seeing a woman president had probably gone by. In recent weeks, the 55-year-old assistant director of the Maine Arts Commission had posted on social media her belief in Clinton’s vision for America, and she had implored her friends and family to support Clinton.

“I am heartbroken, but I am not surprised either,” said Nelson, a longtime activist for progressive causes. “I think the forces of the status quo are very strong always, and while we all want to live in a place of hope, we can’t always live there. It’s not real yet.”



At Portland High School on Wednesday, many students were somber and quiet in morning classes. Some called Trump a “joke” and others said they liked his straight-talking style. It was pretty much a microcosm of the whole election, played out in the classrooms and hallways of one school.

“I like Trump because he doesn’t have a filter, in a good way,” said Richard Greenwood, 15. “He’s not embarrassed to say what he thinks.”

“He’s not going to be as sneaky as Hillary,” said Mikias Silva, 14. “He’s a crazy dude. People like him because he says funny things.”

But few people were laughing in Monument Square where King was giving away hugs. Some were crying. Others were grim-faced but smiled when they saw her sign.

Susan Higgins was walking through the square with her husband, Woody, when she saw King and two of her friends giving hugs. She walked right up to them and began hugging and thanking them. The couple, in their 70s, were Bernie Sanders supporters who “reluctantly” voted for Clinton and were still reeling from Trump’s victory.

“We have to work now to heal, all of us, so I was so happy to see her,” Higgins said of King and her hugging helpers.


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