PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND — Some of them didn't vote for her, but the half-dozen Bernie Sanders supporters who gathered in a colorful west-end apartment here in one of the most liberal cities in the US Tuesday night still wanted Hillary Clinton to win. Even the dog, by the looks of it.
Surrounded by potted plants, baked goods, and vibrant paintings, the young left-leaning Democrats grew increasingly anxious and glum as the election results poured in, showing an extremely tight race between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump; and eventually, the latter taking the lead.
"To me, it's the difference between feeling really shitty and feeling even shittier," said Sara Ali, 29. "I still don't support her but I kind of need her to win at this point. It's not much of a choice anymore seeing how real and how close it is."
Ali, who has lived in New York and New Jersey, said she also worries about what a Trump presidency would mean for discrimination against Muslims.
"I have friends who have had rocks thrown at their cars, like all the horror stories that you hear about. My friend's had some guy rip her scarf off. So it's real and it's really close to home for me," she said.
The night had begun with laughs as host Cathy Huang, 24, dressed up her scruffy rescue dog, Clancy, as Sanders. Clancy sat still as people took a picture of him in a tie, white wig, and glasses.
Huang, a schoolteacher, said she voted for Sanders for president through a write-in. Sean Monahan, a graduate student at Brown University and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, said he did the same. Both said they felt they could do so safely in Rhode Island, a traditionally very blue state, while executing an important protest of the two-party system.
Still, Huang said she was sad for her female students who saw Clinton as an inspiration. "Instead, we're getting a fluorescent Cheeto person," she said.
As they watched an NBC live-stream projected onto a screen in Huang's dining room, Chloe Hohmann — a 24-year-old high school art teacher — said she "should start stress eating more."
Hohmann, Huang, and Mackenzie Bonney, also an art teacher, all said they worried about how to talk to their students about the election on Wednesday morning.
"A lot of the things that Trump says and does affects or hits home to more of my students than maybe to me like as a white, middle-class woman," says Bonney, 24. She said many of her students are minorities, and some have family members who don't have legal status in the US.
"They make jokes about it, about, 'Oh my god, am I going to have to leave?'" Bonney said. "They're laughing about it, but I think that if this is a reality tomorrow, I'm just — the anticipation is just building in me."
Hohmann said she fears having to extend the conversation with kids beyond Election Day. "They're going to be seeing this for the next four years of their early development," she said, "and it's going to affect them in such a hateful way."
Huang says it's "heartbreaking" that the people she wants to help — working class families — "feel like they cant find safe options in voting for like the Democratic candidate, and that they have to turn to someone who's so misogynistic and violent in his language, but also in his actions."
"The intellectual side of me is like, 'Great, people are thinking about alternatives now,'" Huang said. "But most of me is completely devastated."