Democrats were getting increasingly anxious on the North Shore Tuesday night as Republican Donald Trump won more and more states in the presidential race.
Watching CNN analyze vote counts in Pennsylvania around 9:20 p.m., hours before the crucial swing state was called for Trump, wasn’t helping Shanon Lacorte, whose eyes were trained on a TV at Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice’s election night party in Garden City.
“It’s like a basketball game,” said Lacorte, a Woodmere native. “I’d rather see the last two minutes, but I have to watch the whole thing.”
A handful of Democrats also huddled around TVs at Democrat Tom Suozzi’s party in Jericho as Trump’s numbers climbed, while others talked over drinks, avoiding the elephant in the room.
Suozzi’s supporters were excited to see him leading in the 3rd Congressional District race against Republican Jack Martins.
But seeing Hillary Clinton, their party’s standard-bearer, trail in the presidential race worried them.
“I’m going to have a heart attack,” said Rokeya Akhter of Greenvale, the Long Island political director for the Indian-American Voters Association.
The prospect of a Trump presidency made Akhter, a Muslim, feel more motivated than afraid, she said.
She and others at Suozzi’s party said they remained optimistic Clinton would pull out a victory, especially with returns from big states on the West Coast yet to come.
But those states came and went, and Trump inched closer to clinching the presidency, putting local Democrats into a state of shock and disbelief.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” one woman shouted at the Nassau County Democratic Committee’s election night celebration at Westbury Manor as Trump began taking a commanding lead.
The night started as one of both celebration and anxiety.
A crowd of about 35 local Democrats surrounded the screen projecting CNN as it updated with results throughout the night, while others socialized throughout the venue.
Each time Clinton won a state, the room would erupt in applause and cheering.
But as results continued to come through the screen, and Trump began taking the lead, the high spirits in the room began crashing down.
The presidential election largely overshadowed the local state races, but attention shifted to them as Clinton began falling.
Pockets of supporters surrounded Democratic victors, such as Anthony D’Urso, Todd Kaminsky, Charles Lavine and Arnold Drucker, as Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs announced their wins.
The remainder of the room, however, began emptying out.
Nassau County Republicans, meanwhile, were celebrating Trump’s victories at Mirelle’s Restaurant in Westbury.
“It’s just damn good to be a Republican,” Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello exclaimed after taking the stage.
As the vote tallies trickled in, a burst of excitement erupted from the center of the restaurant, activists celebrating as the Fox News headline read “Trump wins Florida.”
“I just can’t believe this,” said Kyle Ludewig, a 21-year-old Republican from Levittown. “I just really can’t believe this. I think all Republicans are just really happy and excited and it’s going to be a fun night.”
“This being my the first election I voted in, I’m just happy that Donald Trump was a candidate I could really relate to,” Ludewig said. “It all started out this night with getting Trump elected, but the local elections were important, too, so I did research to see who I agreed with and am happy with my candidates.
Mondello continued updating the crowd on local congressional and state Senate races, while a giant board was updated with results for all the races.
As Trump edged closer toward the presidency and secured more states, a group of Republican supporters cheered with excitement, jumping up and down and embracing one another.
“He’s going to be the president,” one supporter yelled. “The polls were dead wrong.”