Amy Cheng

NEW YORK CITY — They came expecting to see her make history. They left in disbelief.

The hundreds of supporters gathered at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s LAW ’73 election night rally in New York City were stunned as Republican Party candidate Donald Trump sealed one of the biggest upsets in presidential history.

Trump — whose improbable campaign has polarized the American public and introduced puerile language into national political debate — claimed victory on a dramatic night in which the Republicans also retained control of both houses of Congress.

Over the course of the night, as Trump picked up momentum across the map, global financial markets plunged into turmoil, raising concerns that a Republican victory could have devastating economic implications.

At 2:40 a.m., Clinton phoned Trump to concede the election. Shortly thereafter, Trump walked on stage at the Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan, after an introduction by Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

Meanwhile, on the floor of the Javits Convention Center — where Clinton was widely expected to give a historic victory speech on Tuesday night — supporters of the Democratic nominee expressed fears about the future of the country and even their own safety.

Kayla Bengston, a 24-year-old Clinton supporter, said she came to the convention center with “such confidence that Clinton would pull through.”

But with Trump as president-elect, Bengston said she expects to see “discriminatory policies,” such as the defunding of Planned Parenthood, take hold nationwide.

Scenes from Clinton HQ
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Photos by Robbie Short

In an interview with the News, 25-year-old African-American Ciera Chandler said the prospect of a Trump presidency has left her profoundly frightened.

“As a woman of color, the idea of him being president is scary,” Chandler said. “It’s hard to believe that there are people out there who believe what he believes.”

Midge Maroni — a New York resident and Clinton supporter who arrived at the rally hopeful that the Democrats would seal a victory — said she felt “demoralized and depressed” by the election outcome.

Maroni added that journalists covering the election are partly to blame for Trump’s victory, and described the national media as “a circus” incapable of reporting facts.

“I’m saddened by the enormous ignorance and rage of the public,” she said. “People are angry, and they have a right to be angry, but they’re angry at the wrong source. Donald Trump will do nothing for unemployment or poverty. They don’t get it.”

One Clinton supporter — a Muslim living in Toronto who flew into New York City for Election Day — said the Trump victory could endanger the safety of Muslims across the United States.

“For Muslim-Americans who were born here, raised here, this is more than just an election,” he said. “There are people who are afraid for their lives today, people who are afraid for their businesses today.”

At one point in his campaign, Trump suggested banning Muslims from entering the U.S., although he later backtracked from that proposal.

In the weeks before the election, forecasts by respected prognosticators like Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times’ analytics blog The Upshot predicted that Clinton would win many of the key swing states needed to secure the presidency. But on Tuesday night, one after another, those states — Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania — fell to Trump, leaving the Clinton campaign and her supporters nationwide in a state of shock.

The Democratic nominee did not escape unscathed from a grueling year-and-a-half-long campaign. Critics in both parties have assailed Clinton for her use of a private email server, her paid speeches to Wall Street bankers and her handling of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

And two weeks ago, with the election entering its final phase, FBI Director James Comey ordered investigators to review a new trove of Clinton emails discovered on a computer belonging to former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, the husband of high-profile Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Many Clinton supporters argued that Comey’s announcement about the new emails — which he later informed Congress did not warrant any action against the candidate — disrupted the campaign’s momentum going into Election Day.

On Tuesday afternoon at the convention center, John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign, told the News he was confident Clinton would win. Asked if she had prepared a concession speech, Podesta said, “I’m not even thinking about that right now.”

At the convention center, with media outlets reporting a Trump victory in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania at around 1:30 a.m., hundreds of demoralized Clinton supporters mustered a final gesture of defiance, filling the room with chants of “love trumps hate.”