PHILADELPHIA—They weren’t expecting this. Volunteers for the Philadelphia Republican Party turned out to monitor the polls and serve as election judges; they cast their ballots for Trump-Pence in their city full of Democrats.
They may have hoped Trump would win. But they didn’t start believing it until Florida. Then, things went insane.
Every time a state was called, the entire room would cheer. Volunteers hunched over phones and stared intently at their computers; with each new tweet and Republican victory someone would shout the update to the room. People danced. They sang. They poured themselves increasingly large cups of wine.
This is what unexpected triumph feels like: Nervousness. Excitement. Outbursts. Ecstasy. It’s not just that Trump was behind in the polls going into Election Day. Here in Philadelphia, the Republican Party is used to being the minority party in a Democratic-leaning swing state. Their game was never victory, but margin: Clinton was always going to take the city, but the question was by how much.
The story of Trump’s win could be told in many ways. But the version volunteers, staffers, and their family members excitedly told themselves on Tuesday night started in Philadelphia. In a city of 1.5 million, roughly 682,000 people, or 42 percent, voted. While Clinton won handily with more than 560,000 votes, Trump got his share—105,000 votes, or 15 percent of the total ballots. Long-time Republican volunteers said that’s more than usual for this city—it’s roughly 15,000 more Republican votes than Romney got here in 2012.