PORTLAND, Maine — In Maine’s stronghold of progressive politics, Donald Trump’s surprise victory sent liberal Portlanders reeling.
In the West End, as more states turned in favor of the Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday evening, nervous-looking women gathered under the televisions at Ruski’s Tavern and ordered a round of drinks.
“I’ve always been a feminist, this makes me want to be one even more,” said Emma Doud, a Portland scientist. “To have a 70-year-old, lying misogynist at the helm is incomprehensible.”
Likewise, late Tuesday night Mayor Ethan Strimling said, “It’s devastating. I never imagined that America could elect somebody like Donald Trump.”
It’s a sentiment that runs deep in the typically progressive city of Portland, which had the highest percentage of Hillary Clinton voters of any Maine municipality — 76 percent, compared with Trump’s 18 percent, according to the latest tallies compiled by the Bangor Daily News. Clinton would ultimately win the popular vote across the state, though Trump took one electoral vote.
Clinton’s shocking defeat came the same night that voters elected the city’s first Muslim immigrant, Pious Ali, to the city council. And the election of a presidential candidate who at various points has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country, and a wall along the Mexican border, struck many across Maine’s most diverse city like a body blow.
“This is a turning point in America, where we have become afraid of our fellow neighbors,” said Michael Sylvester, who was elected into the State House in District 39 Tuesday night. “This is horrific.”
Some female Portlanders were equally horrified that the country had elected a candidate who bragged into a hot microphone in 2005 about how he used if fame and wealth to kiss women without their consent and “grab them by the pussy.”
Trump claimed he’d never acted on these words during a presidential debate and apologized for the comment that he dismissed as mere “locker room talk.” But following the debate numerous woman stepped forward to say that Trump had sexually assaulted them. The soon to be President-elect has denied those claims and threatened to sue the women.
On a break from pulling espressos at Congress Street coffee shop Speckled Ax, Megan Michaels said Wednesday that Trump’s election has her concerned about the safety of American women.
“It’s like half of the country doesn’t care about the impact a misogynist president will have on women,” Michaels, 25, said.
Michaels was relieved that Portland went solidly blue, but worried that Trump winning the 2nd Congressional District shows Maine to be split much like America, with a disconnect between the more monied, liberal coast and poorer, more conservative interior. She remained undaunted and plans to stand up for progressive values that she feels define Portland.
“It’s terrifying, but LePage is quite similar and he didn’t ruin Maine for me,” she said. Trump “won’t ruin America for me either.”