Millions of Florida voters celebrated Donald Trump’s presidential victory into the wee hours on Wednesday, rejoicing over the monumental gift of delivering the nation’s most critical battleground state to the populist Republican.
But for those who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton, the election results were a throbbing hangover of shock, bewilderment and pain — especially for Democrats and GOP-crossover voters in South Florida.
Many were unwilling to accept the reality of president-elect Trump soon sitting in the White House — not after he had spewed threats about building a wall on the Southwest border to keep out Mexican criminals, destroying the president’s signature healthcare program and locking up Clinton for mishandling classified emails as secretary of state.
Even many stalwart Republicans in South Florida, which as a region overwhelmingly voted for Clinton, could not fathom Trump’s stunning ascendance to the Oval Office.
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“A ‘stealth vote’ driven by racism, xenophobia, fear, and anger defeated a flawed candidate who had the experience to govern but didn't sufficiently connect with people,” said Marcos Jimenez, a former George W. Bush-appointed U.S. attorney in Miami, who changed his party affiliation from Republican to independent during the campaign.
Jimenez said Clinton “allowed her opponent [Trump] to convince workers that he has their back despite a long history of stiffing them.”
“As the father of three daughters, I'm so glad I'm no longer a Republican and voted against a man who has constantly demeaned women and boasted about grabbing their genitals,” he added. “As a Cuban-American whose family fled a dictator, I'm so glad I voted against a man who denigrates Hispanics.”
Ana Navarro, a South Florida Republican pundit and CNN commentator who voted for Clinton, posted tweets that dripped with regret as well as sarcasm.
“Folks, if you went to sleep last night before the race was called, and are just waking up now, [you] may want to consider going back to sleep,” Navarro posted on her Twitter account.
“Good news is, I have offers to hide in Australia, Argentina, Israel, Panama,” she later posted. “Bad news is, I kind of like my life here.”
At the grassroots end of the political spectrum, leaders of the Miami Workers Center, Haitian Women of Miami and other nonprofit groups gathered at the Torch of Freedom on Biscayne Boulevard Wednesday morning to declare their fight is far from over.
In the headline of a news release, they called on “women of color to unite and protect each other after a racist, misogynist candidate was elected President of the United States.”
As president-elect Trump’s detractors in South Florida lamented his triumph, others in the community celebrated in the afterglow — pointing out that he picked up hundreds of thousands of votes in Miami-Dade’s Hispanic community that made a difference in carrying the whole state.
“The Cuban American community in Miami won the State of Florida for Trump,” said Miami lawyer Tom Spencer, a Republican who worked for the Trump campaign during early voting and on Election Day.
“I saw on the ground the enthusiasm in the Cuban American community — it was awe-inspiring,” Spencer told the Miami Herald. “A lot of them were part of the silent majority who voted for Trump. They were afraid to put bumper stickers on their cars because of all the vicious attacks during the campaign.”
With the daunting job of governing on the horizon, the expectations game for Trump’s presidency began in earnest — starting with his victory speech early Wednesday morning in New York.
“It’s time for America to bind the wounds of division, to get together,” said Trump, who was flanked by his family and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. “To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time.
“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans — and this is so important to me,” Trump continued. “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past — of which there are a few people — I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
Near midday on Wednesday, Clinton gave a concession speech in New York that echoed the “Stronger Together” theme of her campaign, as she set aside the harsh tenor of her bitter differences with Trump.
“Donald Trump is going to be our president,” Clinton said. “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
As Trump reiterated throughout the campaign, his presidency would be about giving a voice to the voiceless — a sentiment that has taken root across the world and most recently in Britain with its also-unexpected vote to exit the European Union.
That sentiment gave Trump a resounding victory.
Job creation for blue-collar workers was a central message of Trump's candidacy — one that resonated deeply enough to compel them to elect him in the hopes that a Trump presidency would relieve them of the effects of a more globalized world.
But as president, Trump will likely fall short of his promise to energize a frustrated working class, said Ali Bustamante, a professor at Florida International University with the Center of Labor Research and Studies in the Department of Economics.
“What is certainly striking is that we know that presidents don't have much power to dictate job creation. It's really market forces that dictate job creation,” Bustamante said. “This idea that Donald Trump can bring back manufacturing jobs or blue-collar jobs, it's something that has been significantly debunked by most economists.”
Trump does enter the presidency with one advantage: a Republican-controlled Congress that may be more willing to consider his infrastructure plans, which the president-elect says he will carry out with “American steel made by American workers.”
“Maybe the Republican Congress will be much more inclined to provide money for infrastructure,” Bustamante said. “That can be an effective way to stimulate the economy and job creation, concentrated in construction in particular.”
Mekael Teshome, economist and an assistant vice president with The PNC Financial Services Group in Florida, predicted Trump's presidency would include higher deficit spending for infrastructure projects. In turn, he said that could lead to higher-than expected inflation, generating consumer spending power and potentially more visitors to South Florida.
But on the real estate side, Trump's push for barriers on trade and immigration could stymie foreign investment in South Florida. Their influence has boosted the local real estate economy since the early 2000s.
“Beyond the real estate sector, even just retail and tourism, there are spillover effects,” Teshome said. “Right now everyone is trying to digest the information.”