Trump’s night hinged on N.H.

  • Donald Trump supporters gathered at the Derryfield Restaurant in Manchester to watch as returns were tallied. NICK REID / Monitor staff

  • By 12:15 a.m., a woman wearing a Clinton mask and an orange prison jumpsuit was high-fiving Trump supporters and and taking selfies with the triumphant crowd at the Derryfield restaurant. —Nick Reid

Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 09, 2016

By 12:15 a.m., a woman wearing a Clinton mask and an orange prison jumpsuit was high-fiving Trump supporters and taking selfies with the triumphant crowd at the Derryfield restaurant in Manchester.

What a difference four hours can make.

When the earliest results flashed on the screen at Donald Trump’s New Hampshire headquarters about 8 p.m. Tuesday, his supporters couldn’t believe what they saw: Hillary Clinton with a 15-point lead in the Granite State.

And their instincts were right. By 10:30 p.m., they were bullish about the Republican candidate’s chances, lifted out of their seats by the news that Trump had won Ohio. He was neck-and-neck in New Hampshire, too.

The 60-person crowd roared and thrust banners in the air with the slogans: “End corruption,” “Her lies matter,” and “Drain the swamp.”

“We’re going to fight this all the way to the very end. Every vote counts, and we will together make America great again,” Trump’s state co-chairman Andrew Hemingway said at the Derryfield Restaurant in Manchester.

As each state was called for the outsider Republican, they left their chairs in elation: North Carolina, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Georgia.

A pundit on Fox News predicted that New Hampshire “could be one of the make-or-break states,” a fact that Hemingway said was part of the Trump strategy since the beginning.

“Where we are right now, at this point in the evening, is a very good sign,” Hemingway said in an interview. “We feel very good about New Hampshire, and we feel New Hampshire is key to winning the presidency.”

The state’s four electoral votes were still undecided at 12:45 a.m.

Hemingway said if Trump could add a couple of typically Democratic-leaning states – it could be enough to win the presidency.

“If one, even two of those break our way, it’s a complete game change,” he said.

Hemingway likened the movement behind Trump to the one President Obama enjoyed in 2008. The most important exit poll question he was monitoring, he said, asked which was the candidate “that would bring real change.”

“Over 80 percent of those respondents nationally said Trump is the candidate who’s going to bring change. It’s the same energy, the same emotion that swept Obama into office in 2008.”

He added: “He’s tapped into something really powerful . . . and he’s pulling people, I think, from all over the place.”

For many people in the state, Trump’s performance was a surprise, especially after he’d warned for weeks that the election might be stolen. He said it was “rigged” against him by biased news media and Democrats whom he believed would orchestrate fraudulent voting in areas with lax identification laws.

That was enough to make some people think there could be a violent reaction if the results were disappointing for Trump.

Ann Catania, an independent Concord voter who campaigned for Trump in Ward 6, dismissed the possibility Tuesday morning of an uproar if the candidate who built his persona on winning ends up defeated.

“I’ll be disappointed, but what can you do? This is America, you know? . . . Deal with it. I’m gonna. I’m not gonna riot about it,” Catania, 59, said.

Trump said in the final debate that he wouldn’t necessarily accept the results if they appear illegitimate. He reiterated in a news radio interview Tuesday on the Columbus, Ohio-based station WTVN: “I want to see what happens. . . . You hear so many horrible stories and you see so many things that are wrong. So we’ll take a look.”

Early in the night, when the election results looked less promising, someone at the Derryfield echoed Trump’s complaint: “It’s rigged.”

But by 11:30 p.m., the mood was flipped. Wisconsin was just called in Trump’s favor and the crowd was chanting: “USA! USA! USA!”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at