Our own Catherine Lankes is in California this election day. Keep this page open for Metropole’s coverage from the Golden State.

 

Michael Bernstein 8. November 201611:12

Right now in California, Catherine Lankes is getting ready (i.e., getting some shut-eye) to bring you live coverage of Election Day. With the nine-hour time difference, that means you should start seeing her live posts sometime early this evening. Hold on tight: it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

In the meantime, check out some of Metropole’s articles about the U.S. election and expat voting.

Editorial: The Ugly Truth (Nov 1)
Election History Quiz (Oct 14)
5 Things You Need to Know to Vote in the U.S. Elections (Sep 28)
U.S. Presidential Election: Considering the Unmentionable (Mar 7)

Catherine Lankes 8. November 201615:35

Good morning from sunny California! As the sun is rising and I’m having my first coffee of the day, MSNBC is announcing: “It’s election day, the greatest day of the year!”. We’ll see about that later tonight. For now, everyone is getting ready for the first polls to close in 9 hours and 24 minutes – including the Clinton Campaign CA Headquarter in Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco where I’ll be headed later this morning.

Catherine Lankes 8. November 201617:20

“We have to reassure young people: This is not a normal election cycle. Sometimes we just have to go all the way down before we can go up again.” – CBS’ Bob Schieffer

Catherine Lankes 8. November 201618:21

Eleanor (11 months) and Evrett (3.5 yo) have already voted with their mom. She tells me: “I cast an absentee ballot but I was looking for an excuse to come here and do my civic duties – so we are here distributing thanks-for-voting-cookies. I wanted to take the kids to be part of this major election.”

Best thing: They don’t discriminate – even I get a cookie, being able to vote or no.

Catherine Lankes 8. November 201618:29

Good mood, early morning cookies and vote casting in the kitchen of a local community building: “It’s been a busy morning, we had quite a line at 7am when we opened. Now it’s more of a steady flow. But we’re positive that we’ll have a lot of people coming until late tonight”, one election volunteer at Stanford West’s Community Building says. There are four of them overlooking the polling station, three of them as first-time-volunteers. The talk about the election being rigged annoys them – otherwise all of them are as cheerful as the weather here in Palo Alto. They have another 10 hours before the station closes at 8pm PT.

Catherine Lankes 8. November 201618:37

… whilst at least one Austrian is rigging the system. Talk about Russian hacking.

Catherine Lankes 8. November 201621:43

The get-out-the-vote-campaining on both sides shows its effect, at least according to a very subjective and non-representative study on the way to San Francisco: I counted 27 “I Voted”-stickers on the hour-and-a-half-long journey from my flat in Palo Alto to SF’s South of Market-district where the GOP will be having their “Victory Party” later tonight. The Clinton Campaign HQ is a few blocks away.

Catherine Lankes 8. November 201623:49

Overheard #1 – Some security personnel standing in the shade, taking a break, smoking.

– “You know what, my uncle won’t go out vote. I’m gonna drag him to the voting booth, I swear, if he’s not gonna go vote, I’m gonna drag him to this voting booth.”
– “The other day a friend calls me and says ‘Don’t vote for the woman, she ain’t no good.’ I was laughing and he said ‘Why you laughing man?!’. You know what I think, I think he ain’t no good, he’s a racist.”
– “Would have been nice to have Bernie Sanders, or I don’t know some sort of third-party-candidate. She ain’t no good but you really can’t vote for him.”
– “I can’t believe that they let Trump run. That just let you know how bad they wanted her to win.”
Catherine Lankes 8. November 201623:54

Overheard #2, same crew from below:

“I don’t even care. Whenever a politician comes on, I change the channel. To me they all suck.” – “They do. But for me there are some who just write the books better than some other.”
According to a study recently taken up by The Atlantic, this guy will be the happiest: If you don’t care about the outcome, you are more likely to have a steady level of happiness after the event. Still, you should care. And vote.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:11

Campaigning is still in full swing here in San Francisco: Inside an old TV station, the Clinton Campaign has opened their hipsteresque and rather makeshift California HQ. I joined for a little while to do some text-banking, sending hundreds of text messages to possible Clinton voters. After a very informal sign-in, essentially what you do is pull up your phone’s browser, punch in the Clinton campaign’s web host and hit the same button over and over and over again. Everyone on text-banking will be working on the same state and county. Approximately 8.000 people contacted in an hour. Food and drinks are complementary, served in the HRCafé.

The vibe is good, pleasant. And yet, bear in mind that most of the volunteers who showed up today came because they aren’t quite so sure about the outcome: “I’m scared. This is the only reason why I’m here”, tells me my text-banking-collegue Rob (73 yo) whilst he’s hitting two phones at the same time without even looking at the screen.


Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:16

Not quite of legal voting age – but ever more passionate about their cause. They don’t really count as official campaigning which would be unlawful in such close proximity to the SF city hall (in the background) – one of the main polling stations in the Golden Gate City.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:29

Overheard #3:

“Text banking is just so much easier. You might have one or two slightly interesting conversations in two hours. Most of what you get is voice message or people hanging up. I had one friend who travelled to Florida because he wanted to do something impactful but he couldn’t stand phone-banking. That’s when he did door-to-door.” – “But, tell you what, about a month ago I had a very interesting conversation. I was on the phone with an old lady, like 93 or 95 years I think, and she told me how much she gets harassed for her Hillary-stickers on her car and her house. And this was in California.”

Meanwhile, a preppy twenty-something who looks more conservative than anything else in his polo and bottle-green gilet tells volunteers to switch back to messaging Florida – using the trick our very own editor-in-chief Maggie Childs loves when speaking in public: “Everyone who hears my voice, clap!” Behind him, the politico.com live-blog is being pulled up on a big screen.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:36

Overheard #2, same crew from below:

“I don’t even care. Whenever a politician comes on, I change the channel. To me they all suck.” – “They do. But for me there are some who just write the books better than some other.”
According to a study recently taken up by The Atlantic, this guy will be the happiest: If you don’t care about the outcome, you are more likely to have a steady level of happiness after the event. Still, you should care. And vote.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:36

Overheard #2, same crew from below:

“I don’t even care. Whenever a politician comes on, I change the channel. To me they all suck.” – “They do. But for me there are some who just write the books better than some other.”

According to a study recently taken up by The Atlantic, this guy will be the happiest: If you don’t care about the outcome, you are more likely to have a steady level of happiness after the event. Still, you should care. And vote.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:42

“This is a logo. This is Hillary’s sign, her symbol, you know, so people recognise her!” – An elderly lady shows her grand-daugther around at the Clinton HQ in Van Ness Ave. “I want her to be part of this. This is such an important moment for all women in this country. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:45

Different to Austrian ballots which have huge circles for crosses to mark the candidate, US ballots feature little arrows which are to be finished by the voter with a “clear, thin line”. Is there a pun intended by the Clinton campaign?

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:55

“Hey, you didn’t use my name or anything in your coverage, did you? I’m not supposed to be here. I’d be getting trouble at work.” – P., one of the managing staff the Clinton HQ, asks me. He remembered me from Sunday, when I first visited the HQ to ask if I could help out without being American.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20160:52

Different to Austrian ballots which have huge circles for crosses to mark the candidate, US ballots feature little arrows which are to be finished by the voter with a “clear, thin line”. Is there an arrow-pun that’s intended by the Clinton campaign?

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20161:28

At Stanford University, some classes have been cancelled today – some because professors wanted to give students more opportunity to vote, others because the professors themselves will be working on the election. Leading up to the election, post-docs and Stanford staff have been receiving emails advising them to take their passports in case they are not American, and look out for suspicious incidents. Still, hardly anybody seems really concerned about security issues.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20164:30

San Francisco is getting uneasy about the Trump-lead in Florida. Rushing past commuters, nearly everyone seems to be talking about the first results being released. A slightly distorted man shouts as he is holding his phone an arm-stretch away: “He ain’t gonna win. He ain’t gonna win. If he wins, I’m outta this country, so outta this country! He ain’t gonna win!”

Whether or not he would really go, ideas about dating apps geared towards Americans wanting to move to Canada are already out there – true to the Valley-spirit. Gist of the idea: Match Canadians who would be willing to wed Trump-refugees to facilitate visa-/citizenship-issues.
In general, Canadians have been very sympathetic with the cause of their neighbours during the past weeks. One of the highlights was a viral video: “Please, Americans, don’t vote for Trump. We love you, and you already are great!” Meanwhile, in the U.S., there was talk about writing in Justin Trudeau on the voting slips.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20164:36


As goes Ohio, so goes the nation. Francis Fukuyama has exchanged today’s class Democracy, Development and Rule of Law at Stanford University with election watching. As the news about Ohio’s results come in, the class is even more perplexed. No-one wants to believe in a final victory of Trump – but “Ohio never had it wrong since 1964” as was said this morning on CNBC.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20164:39


As goes Ohio, so goes the nation. Francis Fukuyama has exchanged today’s class Democracy, Development and Rule of Law at Stanford University with election watching. As the news about Ohio’s results come in, the class is even more perplexed. No-one wants to believe in a final victory of Trump – but “Ohio never had it wrong since 1964” as was reiterated this morning on CNBC.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20164:56

Asking Francis Fukuyama if he believes that Trump will win the elections: “Looks like it. Looks as though he’s gonna win Michigan and Wisconsin, she should have won those easily.”

Francis Fukuyama is one of America’s leading and most renown political scientists. He is predicting that one of the main challenges for a new potential government under a president Donald Trump will be who would actually be willing to work with his administration. Fukuyama also expects him to build at least part of the wall: “He has to do something about this, he can’t just let the subject go. He won’t build an entire wall but enough to say that he has done SOMETHING about it.”
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20166:00

Stanford students discussing the possible failures and drawbacks of the Clinton campaign. Nidhi from India believes Clinton should have played the woman-card more. “In India, when women run for office, they are stressing their role in society over and over again. She hasn’t been talking about it at all. This was a difficult move in my opinion. She should have jumped on the bandwagon fuelled by Michelle Obama.”

The group agrees that Hillary just “massively lacks charisma”. “Her husband has gone through so much, and has survived it. He’s just better with the crowds”. Sayed from Afghanistan shares an anecdote: A high-ranking Clinton staff member has told him that within the team Hillary herself is thought to be “terribly awkward” at times.
The Florida and Georgia results come in, the room just seems to get more depressed by the minute. Murmur is going through the crowd, before they become silent again. Only one conservative supporter looks fairly confident. A big bottle of Vodka gets passed along, they drink shots from large water cups sticking to the warning “whatever happens tonight, we will drink”.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20166:04

I was waiting until the last moment to decide where to go to see the final results. I’ll be headed back from Stanford, Palo Alto, to San Francisco.

Adress: Twitter HQ, 1355 Market Street, “San Francisco GOP Watch (‘Victory’) Party.

The Clinton Campaign is camping out at the Holiday Inn a few blocks from there. Not sure about the current mood there. Trump is 26 electoral college votes away from a victory.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20166:08

I was waiting until the last moment to decide where to go to see the final results. I’ll be headed back from Stanford, Palo Alto, to San Francisco.

Adress: Twitter HQ, 1355 Market Street, “San Francisco GOP Watch (‘Victory’) Party.

The Clinton Campaign is camping out at the Holiday Inn a few blocks from there. Not sure about the current mood there. Trump is 26 electoral college votes away from a victory.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20166:17
A friend from Mexico studying International Policy Studies at Stanford University sends me this meme. The Mexican peso has crashed.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20166:54
A friend from Mexico studying International Policy Studies at Stanford University sends me this meme. The Mexican peso has been soaring.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20167:00

People waiting for the Caltrain back into town are staring at phone screens and logging into the café’s WIFI that’s still on even though the place has closed an hour ago. Blue-blue-blue California is in a state of shock and denial.

“Do states ever split? No? It’s such a stupid system. I might just turn off my phone and wake up tomorrow to the news. Watching it doesn’t change anything anyway”, says one girl with a “I Voted”-sticker. “He’s just been giving them what they want”, I hear waiting for my train. “He’s gonna get Michigan, he’s gonna get Michigan…”
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20167:02

“And life goes on”, he tells me.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20169:36

Donald Trump is the next president of the United States. Right in time for his acceptance speech I reached the SFGOP Victory Party. No-one here really believed in his victory – they are as surprised as the rest of the world. Around 30 people are here, I definitely stand out as an outsider. The party’s host walkes up to me, basically asking whether I’ve just smuggled in. I show him my ticket, he smiles and welcomes me. Nothing could upset him tonight anyway.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20169:47

The 1355 Market Street building is surrounded by a small group of protesters balanced out by an equal number of police. I run into two guys wearing the signature red “Make America Great Again” caps: “All we know is that they are treating Trump supporters badly.”

I try walk in the building, had to lie and tell the security that I’ve already been in. He’s iffy, doesn’t believe a word, but lets me pass. The Trump-crew is drunk – not on alcohol but on victory.
Gregory Bondaruk 9. November 20169:48

Gregory Bondaruk 9. November 20169:50

Gregory Bondaruk 9. November 20169:52

Catherine Lankes 9. November 20169:52

Trump comes up, gives his acceptance speech. Melanie stuns, his humbleness is receiving a lot of positive commentary. I’m still disguised, not giving away that I’m a reporter. Fox News is on. I try to smile as much as I would have at a Hillary-victory-party.

I pull out my camera, people are giving me funny looks. My notepad and pen don’t help.
Matthew Don Carlo who is with the Young Republicans California is happy to talk to me: “Austria? Fantastic. This was such a great night. Even I wouldn’t have believed he was going to win. Listen, I am not a believer in conspiracy theories but, you know, the system… the polls … the media … everything was against him. But he won. This is just so incredible. I am so happy.”
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20169:57

“Why I voted for Trump? I’ve been supporting him for such a long time. He’s with the people and for the people. You know. This was the last breath of democracy. If not, we would have taken the wrong way on the freeway. I’m so glad we passed this one.” – Tom Rehwalt, 29, says.

This is not his real name, he didn’t tell me but it is obvious. He says he is afraid of Antifa in Europe as well as in the United States. A moment earlier his friend Adam Smythe (31) replied to a warning by the host of the party to be careful when going out: “It’s time we stand up, it’s time we become courageous. Now is the time for our believes!”.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 20169:59

I will now move over to the Hillary Party. Might still find some people there. It’s just turning 1am here in San Francisco, no-one who is still out feels like bed, for different reasons.

Catherine Lankes 9. November 201610:18

Not a single person left at the Hillary Watch Party.


Catherine Lankes 9. November 201610:31

“I don’t like him, I am sorry”, says my Uber driver when asked what he was thinking about the election outcome. I look at him, incredulous at his monosyllabic reply. How can he not be more engaged? Then I understand. “I’m a reporter. I’m not affiliated with the GOP. I don’t believe he is a good choice.” – “He is a stupid idiot.”

At the GOP party, I did not disclose my opinion about Trump for fear of shying his supporters back. Using the excuse of being a foreigner and a reporter, I wiggled my way out of giving an opinion. I have the experience that people talk more freely when not faced with an opposing opinion – and I wanted them to talk to me – in an honest and non-aggressive way. The Uber driver was of the opinion that I was supporting Trump. He wasn’t going to be open towards me.
If this is a glimpse of the future rhetorical and political culture in one of the most advanced democracies in the world, “the split of the country” is going to be more disastrous than we can possibly imagine at the moment.
The election of Donald Trump makes populism mainstream. It is a scary outlook – and during the past hours I have not been hiding my support for Hillary Clinton whilst writing this blog. However, the most perilous outlook is not Trump as a president itself but a democratic society where opinions stop being exchanged for fear of aggression. It is ignorant and arrogant to ignore half of America’s voice, in the same way it is be wrong not to listen to Brexiteers only because we don’t agree with their decision.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 201610:39

California is a blue state. Donald Trump as president is a shock, close to a complete catastrophe. But when disaster strikes – and for most Californians it did – I have experienced that the country and its people come closer together.

On the train-ride into San Francisco I was handed a beer by complete strangers who were watching CNN’s live coverage on their laptop, desperation in their eyes, shaking their heads. They invited me to watch with them. “This can’t be happening, this is not happening, this is not happening”, Matt and Alex said. Kate asked if she could join in: “The worst part is that so many good things will disappear. The country needs organisations like Planned Parenthood.”

This was when we understood that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States of America, a ridiculously unqualified candidate having defeated one of the most qualified candidates in US history. For a moment, we were united in desperation.
Catherine Lankes 9. November 201610:53

“You know sometimes I don’t understand what he says either. But then you really have to listen closely to him, he’s just … you know – he’s so smart. He just doesn’t know how to dumb it down. All the legal terms… people don’t understand that. He might have no experience in politics but that doesn’t matter. That’s so easy. He was running businesses, you know. Politics is so easy…” – Darryl Wortham, 50, pictured far right wearing his Trump/Make America Great Again-cap.
He tells me he has spent the last three days in Nevada volunteering for the campaign, has donated “loads of money”. When asked about Trump being called racist, I feel he is offended: “I’m from New York. I’m being called racist. We are all racist. This is dumb stuff we say, but we say it. Trump is smart.”

Catherine Lankes 9. November 201611:00

On this statement I now end this live blog. Thanks for tuning in – I hope I have given you a glimpse of how this historic day felt here in California.

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Catherine Lankes is an Austrian freelance journalist with a tilt towards the international sphere. After having studied Translation Studies in Vienna and in Paris, she is now taking a peek into the world of diplomacy with a Master’s Degree in International Studies from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. Her interests include classical ballet and riding her motorbike.