November 8, 2016, was a historic day as President Donald Trump pulled off one of the biggest political upsets in political history. But many of the details were lost in the crazy development of the late-night and early morning hours.
We asked our Breitbart News staff, inspired by Esquire‘s behind the scenes look into the campaigns and some of the newsrooms, to share some of their election night memories with our readers. We hope you enjoy it and encourage everyone to post their own memories on social media or in the comments below.
Happy MAGA Day!
Rebecca Mansour, Senior West Coast Editor-at-Large: During a morning editorial call a few weeks before Steve left us to run the campaign, I made a comment prefaced with the words, “if Trump wins.” Steve interrupted me, “Wait. Stop. Don’t say, ‘if!’” He then launched into an impromptu St. Crispin’s Day speech, mixing in arcane history, pop culture trash talk, and a few Bannonesque poetic flourishes. At one point, I think he even referenced that ultimate symbol of a doomed endeavor: Pickett’s Charge.
That last week of the election, I was uncharacteristically optimistic. Friends and family in my home state of Michigan told me that Trump was flooding the airwaves with a brilliant two-minute ad that explained his populist and economic nationalist message. And Michigan LOVED it. It was a love letter to the Rust Belt.
Joel Pollak, Senior Editor-at-Large: The first time I really thought — fleetingly — that Trump would win was at the “Midnight Special” speech in Virginia. It was Nov. 6, the Sunday before Election Day, and the speech was supposed to start at 9:30 pm. But Trump was running late, uncharacteristically. He had already been to five other states and held four rallies that day. I was traveling with the press pool and we arrived, finally, at 12:30 am, reaching the barn in Loudon County where the crowd was waiting. And wow! They were still waiting — thousands in the barn and perhaps thousands outside. Parents were in the crowd holding their sleepy kids on their shoulders, on a school night. When I asked them why they had come, they said: “To be part of history.” That’s when I texted my wife and told her that I thought Trump might actually do this. I was skeptical again by Election Day itself. But that was one of the little glimmering moments of hope for the Trump campaign.
Michelle Moons, Reporter: After spending a month on the Trump-Pence campaign trail, witnessing firsthand an enthusiasm among Americans that defied every poll or conventional wisdom pundit, I knew something special was coming that night.
Adelle Nazarian, Reporter: Shortly before I moved to D.C., several of our colleagues were sitting at our headquarters in Los Angeles watching TV — the news blazing with Fox, CNN, and MSNBC on three screens — when one of my colleagues asked me, “There’s a gun to your head. Does Trump win, yes or no?” It took about 5 seconds for me to answer, but I said, “Yes!”
I remember traveling with Mike Pence on November 7th from Traverse City, Michigan, to Erie, Pennsylvania, where he held his final solo rally — the day before Election Day — that sealed the deal. As I, and the rest of the media, passed him on our way out of the aircraft, Pence looked at me and said, “one more.” But I knew that, in those words, his work had just begun. At the Trump-Pence joint rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, later that evening, there was an unprecedented energy in the atmosphere.
Robert Marlow, Senior Homepage Editor: My daughter Molly called me from New York on the day before the 2016 election and told me she was very worried that Donald Trump was not going to win the presidency. I “promised” her that Trump would win. At stake was, first, a near perfect track record of keeping my promises to my children … and, second, the fate of Western Civilization.
Michael Patrick Leahy, Polling Editor: I had no doubt Trump would win. I predicted 300 electoral votes publicly late September at a speech to Williamson County Republican women. I knew he would win Michigan due to the refugee issue. The only state that would later surprise me was Wisconsin. I thought he had a chance in Minnesota due to the refugee issue as well but thought he would come up a little short due to the overwhelming liberal bias of the local media there. We later found out, Trump ended up losing the state by barely 40,000 votes.
Jeff Poor, TV Editor: After well over a decade of being in the business of monitoring radio and cable news, tolerating smug punditry was just part of the job. Earlier in the week, The Atlantic’s David Frum predicted “a scorched earth period of recrimination” for Trump supporters coming after Trump’s inevitable loss. A day before the election, MSNBC’s Steve Schmidt was advising Donald Trump on air to prepare a concession speech.
Charlie Spiering, White House Correspondent: I went shooting at a gun range with a couple of friends the weekend before the election and only one predicted that Trump was going to win in a landslide. I said it was a “High Energy” prediction but said something lame like, “anything can happen.”
I took the train to New York City on Monday after I was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton’s election night at her campaign headquarters and met up with our editorial staff at the hotel bar. I specifically remember telling Breitbart COO Jon Kahn that Trump would win Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, but he couldn’t win the presidency without winning Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, or Michigan. I was the wet blanket at the bar that night. I had credentials to both campaign headquarters, but I was expected to cover Hillary Clinton first. My only consolation was that maybe I would personally witness history if she won.
James Delingpole: In late summer of ’16, I got a frantic call from a journalist on Britain’s glossiest magazine, Tatler. He was trying to find someone, anyone, even halfway well-known in Britain who would admit to being a supporter of Donald Trump. Clearly, he must have been desperate because, apart from Canadian media mogul Conrad Black and Viscount Monckton, about the only one he could find to quote was me. I said: “I think he gets modern culture in a way a lot of people don’t. Trump and the age have coalesced. We have reached peak liberal-left stupid. Trump stamps all over that. If you believe the defining characteristic of our age is to virtue-signal, then Trump is the anti-virtue signaller.”
Aaron Klein, Jerusalem Editor: I watched as the fake news media repeatedly smeared Donald Trump with baseless accusations regarding women while not only ignoring but actively minimizing Bill and Hillary Clinton’s actual war against women. The establishment media were going to let Hillary get away with running on a platform of empowering women even though she enabled her husband’s predatory behavior and allegedly engaged in a campaign to silence Bill’s traumatized sexual assault victims. I knew that I had to do something. And so I did.
Alex Marlow, Editor-in-Chief: Mrs. Dr. Marlow and I voted early at our Northwest Washington, D.C. polling place a couple weeks before the election. I remember waiting to cast our ballots in a seating area in the middle of a community center auditorium thinking that virtually everyone in the crowded room hated Trump, hated Breitbart, and was there to vote for the most corrupt person ever nominated for President by a major American political party, Hillary Clinton. I still couldn’t help smiling.
Alex Marlow: Election day got off to a fast start for me. I woke up in Manhattan and started the day hosting talk radio from SiriusXM’s Rockefeller Center studios. It was an exciting election to be in New York as both campaign HQs were there. I got to interview then-candidate Trump on Breitbart News Daily, and it was a cautiously upbeat conversation, focusing mostly on his efforts to build a “yuge tent” for the Republican Party.
The consensus among the show’s guests and callers that day was that Trump would be victorious. I’m not one who frequently makes predictions, but I did state that Trump would win. I had gone through the math, and starting with a baseline of Romney’s 2012 electoral map, I thought Trump was going to hold onto North Carolina by a narrow margin and pick up Iowa, Ohio, and Florida fairly easily. That brought him to around 259 electoral votes, but, more importantly, I thought Hillary’s cap was about 279. All Trump had to do was surprise in one or two states — and there is always a surprise in one to two states — and he would become the next president. He had a lot of “outs,” while she had to hang on for dear life.
Rebecca Mansour: In our morning senior editorial call on Election Day, our editor-in-chief Alex Marlow asked us for our final assessments of the race. I surprised myself by saying, “I feel really good about Trump’s chances. I think he can do it.” That was a big turn-around for a gal who had been playing Debbie Downer for months.
Katherine Rodriguez, Pre-viral Reporter: I cast my vote around 11 am at a polling place in Randolph, New Jersey, and noticed a lot more Republicans showing up to cast their votes than Democrats based on the number of ballots being handed out. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, given that my precinct tends to lean Republican and that New Jersey as a whole is a pretty Democratic state.
James Delingpole: I had two £50 bets placed at the bookmakers on Trump to win. The odds — 3 to 1 — were pretty poor, it seemed to me, given that EVERYONE was saying Trump was going to lose. And now, here were the polls saying he didn’t have a hope of winning. At this point, a thought crossed my mind: it was just like this in the last stages of the Brexit vote. All the experts were saying, right to the last minute, that the Remainers were going to win, yet they lost. My gut was telling me this might be a re-run. I thought of how Trump had toured the country hard in the way that Nigel Farage had toured the country hard. I thought of the rapturous reception both had received at rallies, reaching the kind of people who didn’t normally vote and who might confound the pollsters. Sadly, I didn’t trust my gut enough to place another bet — which was annoying. On the last day, I could have got odds of 8 to 1.
Charlie Spiering: I went to Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, prayed for our country, and ate a massive breakfast. The campaign was over. Later I went back to my hotel room and tried to get some sleep, but that was impossible.
Frances Martel, National Security Editor: Election Day was an unnaturally sunny, silent day in New Jersey. I remember being the only person at the polling station when I voted, and almost certainly the only Republican. It was eerily quiet outside and, save for a flurry of “OMG OMG” texts from friends, quiet online too. After two years of campaigns, I think everyone had just run out of things to say.
Ben Kew, Reporter: Although I remained convinced that Trump would lose, I remember seeing a memo from Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow claiming that Trump was performing better than expected in some early voting counties. This was cause for some cautious optimism.
Wynton Hall, Social Media Consultant: I’m sitting there staring at all my social media analytics dashboards, and I realize that by midday Breitbart already had the equivalent of an NFL stadium-size audience just sitting on the Facebook page. The polls were far from closing, but folks weren’t going anywhere. Breitbart Nation was in position and manning their battle stations. They machine-gunned so many shares, comments, and reactions that Breitbart beat CNN, Fox News, and the New York Times in Election Day Facebook engagement. It was incredible to watch it unfold.
(Screenshot, News Whip)
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Rebecca Mansour: On the evening senior editorial call, Alex was careful not to give us a false sense of optimism or pessimism. None of us knew what the outcome would be. As he had throughout the campaign, Alex kept us positive and focused. We knew that whether Trump won or lost, Breitbart would be a target.
Throughout the day, I had been texting and speaking with Jon Kahn, who was at the Trump campaign headquarters in New York City. As the polls began to close, Jon said the exit polls weren’t looking good. The Trump team was worried about Florida.
Alex Swoyer, former Political Reporter: I was surprised at the initial exit polls favorable to Hillary Clinton because they just didn’t reflect the energy I had seen from voters out on the campaign trail when I️ spent time covering Iowa, Florida, and Ohio.
Raheem Kassam, London Editor: I arrived at the Hilton in Midtown Manhattan pretty downbeat, if I’m honest. But it was the same feeling I had on the morning of June 23rd when we confounded the British and European political, corporate, and media establishments to lead the UK to an“Out” [Brexit] vote. A small gaggle of us huddled around a cash bar (yes, a cash bar!) in the Hilton, grabbing campaign paraphernalia for posterity, exchanging pleasantries about work, and wondering what our lives would look like under President Clinton.
Amanda House, Deputy Political Editor: I was our newest editor then, so figured I’d take one for the team and cover Hillary with Charlie, our White House correspondent, while I expected the rest of the Breitbart crew in NY would be celebrating a hard-fought, but ultimately lost, battle.
Getting into the Javits Center was a complete logistical nightmare. Once inside, they stuck us in the basement. The only “view” we had was whatever they piped in for us on the TV screens. As the evening progressed, the feed operator became increasingly anxious, obnoxiously changing the channel every minute or so between CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC. Whenever the commentators started to say anything that wasn’t pro-Hillary it seemed — *Click* — It was time for yet another one-minute promo of Hillary tracked to either Katy Perry’s “Roar” or Sarah Bareilles’s “Brave.” I was in “I’m-With-Her”-feminism hell.
Charlie Spiering: I met up with my colleague Amanda House to cover Hillary Clinton’s election night party. Amid the chaos of security and credentialing into the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, we realized that most digital/print media was stuck in the basement with no line of sight to the stage or any of her supporters. What a joke! TV media and campaign trail press were allowed space in the arena but had to have special passes.
I chatted with a few reporters I knew, waiting for the election results to come in. Many reporters already had their stories written, I idly jotted down some notes as we waited. Florida came in hot, looking blue for Hillary, and the crowd of her supporters was going wild — we could hear them from the basement.
Ben Kew: I was sitting on the pool deck of a hotel in Caracas, Venezuela, speaking to some Americans. They told me they would rather live in Venezuela, a country ruined by socialism, than Trump’s America. This made me more nervous as I realized just how much was at stake. As I went back to my hotel room to follow the night’s events, I heard a Democratic strategist saying how he expected it to be a “strong night for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.” My worst fears were realized.
Joel Pollak, from How Trump Won:
At my friend’s apartment, I lie down for a nap for exactly 15 minutes. I wake to the news that pollster Frank Luntz, citing some new numbers, has projected Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States. People are still voting, but the election seems over. I dress for the evening and head uptown, in a state of resignation. I spend the subway ride pondering different options for drowning my sorrows. I conclude that none of them is any good, and I may as well just do my work. I find my way to the hotel, past a few Trump supporters. The street in front of the New York Midtown Hilton is still largely empty. Walking into the building feels like going to a funeral, as people prepare to console one another.
Dan Flynn, Editor: Fresh from casting a ballot for Trump in school’s mock election, and the ensuing grief that choice caused among their fellow Massachusetts youth (try being six and the only girl casting a sans-Australian-ballot vote for Trump in a Bay State classroom), the second- and fifth-graders in my home wanted to know what state victories meant a national victory for their preferred candidate. My children believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, so, as a seasoned writer on politics who knew better than to put much stock in a Trump victory, I played along and told them he needed to win North Carolina to retain a chance and that, if he won Wisconsin, Clinton held no chance.
Alex Marlow: I was working the front page at Breitbart.com and tracking three things at this time: 1) Smug media-types embarrassing themselves on various social platforms. 2) I had a keen eye on Florida, where the polls closed at 7 p.m. Early returns showed Trump well ahead, but then he seemed to plummet. I led our evening editorial call, showered, got dressed, and headed into SiriusXM’s studios for our nighttime simulcast for The Patriot Channel 125 and Breitbart.com. I checked my phone while walking and saw that Trump had retaken the lead in the Sunshine State. That’s when things got fun. 3) It was around this time I found — and subsequently became obsessed with — a Reuters exit poll that revealed unprecedented disdain for both the political and media establishments among the electorate (the post has over 77,000+ comments). I plastered the data all over our front page, and we were immediately heckled by blue checkmarks, who suggested we were living in an alternate reality. Their laughter soon turned to tears. The highlights from the poll:
– 75 percent agree that “America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.”
– 72 percent agree “the American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.”
– 68 percent agree that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.”
– 76 percent believe “the mainstream media is more interested in making money than telling the truth.”
8 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Alex Marlow: I broadcast live with David Webb, Andrew Wilcow, and guests from SiriusXM’s glass studio known as the “fishbowl” in front of a small live audience. I provided news updates, while they supplied the color commentary. I was frantically refreshing browsers on a couple monitors for up-to-the-second updates. When Ohio turned into a blowout, the atmosphere became electric. The most compelling data to chart was the New York Times’ election forecaster which provided real-time betting odds on who would win. At the start of the day, it had Clinton at 85 percent.
Wynn Marlow, Associate Political Editor: My daughter Molly and I took a cab to the Hilton Hotel, NYC, to attend the gathering optimistically called the Trump Victory Party. It was around 8:30 p.m. The street was closed to traffic and the security detail itself exuded excitement. We were escorted to an enormous ballroom where the press was allowed to congregate. Women for Trump posters were on the tables. MAGA hats were distributed to one and all. There were huge TV screens hanging, tuned to Fox News. Oddly, there were no chairs at all. Reporters stood at small pedestal tables with their laptops. There was a cash bar at one end of the room. No surprise, perhaps, that the Breitbart contingent ended up congregating on the floor, against a pillar, next to the bar. Milo was there with his entourage. CEO Larry Solov and COO Jon Kahn came over from Trump Tower where the campaign was waiting for the returns. Matt Boyle bounced around the room in his MAGA hat. Everyone wore big smiles amid the excitement of the moment, the supreme sense of historical significance.
Raheem Kassam: Just like Brexit, the atmospheres were similar as the nights wore on: sore feet, sore heads, and glances of disbelief at friends and acquaintances. Not a word had to be exchanged in those moments. As eyes locked, both parties quizzically but clearly conveyed the voiceless words: “Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Am I going crazy? Have we actually done this?”
Charlie Spiering: At 8:30 p.m., Debbie Wasserman Schultz was spotted at Clinton HQ, and reporters scrambled to ask her about Florida. “The jury’s still out,” she said, looking nervous. Maybe it wasn’t going to be a short night after all. By 9:00 p.m. everything had changed, reporters stopped talking, laughing, and waiting and started getting anxious watching election results come in. The cheering upstairs had dampened.
Shortly after 10:00 p.m., Hillary Clinton was called the winner of Virginia, prompting wild cheers from supporters although the tide was turning the opposite direction. Amanda and I agreed it was time to leave and make our way to the Trump headquarters. As we left, we could see everyone inside the glass box building, literally trapped in a glass cage of emotion.
Amanda House: When Team Hillary cut all news programming in the media room to run a four-minute “History of Hillary Clinton” video, I knew something was up. I checked twitter and, sure enough, the markets had turned. The globe was watching. The Democrats, the NeverTrumpers, the world had placed their bets on Hillary, and, as the reporter from one of our alphabetical news outlet neighbors, Black Enterprise, whispered to her colleague, “It [was] not looking good.”
Charlie and I were refreshing the NYT election tracker, trying to get a better sense of what was really happening outside. Hillary started out the day with an 85 percent chance of winning. By 9:30 p.m., Trump was at 51 percent, Clinton 49. Hillary had tweeted something ominous a few minutes earlier about “ whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything.” By 10 p.m., the DOW was plunging. A few minutes later, I saw reports online that Hillary’s campaign was on “lockdown. As they were throwing Katy Perry on the stage, I remember telling Charlie, “As soon as Florida or Virgina go, we’re leaving.”
They were both nail bitters, but Virginia was called soon thereafter for Hillary. The NYT tracker had jumped to something like 90 percent for Trump though. At that point, I thought, “It’s done. No one wants to call it yet, but he’s won Florida.” It was done. And from our labeled “BREITBART” desk, I could feel everyone’s eyes on us. I could no longer see our friends from the Daily Caller. Hillary’s HQ was in full meltdown. I knew it was time to get out of there.
Joel Pollak, from How Trump Won:
This is Game 7, all right. Now, somehow, I find myself calming down. I am in Cubs mode. Instead of watching the television—which I could do anywhere—I decide to work, to write about the mood swings and the tension in the air. And as I do so, I feel just a little glimmer of that familiar feeling, that sense I had in the Armory Ballroom in New Hampshire, the feeling that Trump is going to win. I quickly suppress the thought. He is still likely to lose. It would be nice, looking back, to have believed in a win, this late in the game. But it seems impossible.
Frances Martel: I had been going on about Trump having what it takes to win since easily 2012, but now, it was impossible to imagine the reality of a President Donald Trump. Somehow, “President Hillary Clinton” sounded even less likely.
Dan Flynn: A strange thing happened: events vindicated naivety and mocked expertise. Brett Baier calling North Carolina for Trump elicited a reaction similar to that which greeted Al Michaels calling Malcolm Butler’s interception. Thousands of pounds of house shook as only hundreds of pounds of kid could make it (surely the funeral-home-quiet abodes that surrounded heard, nay, felt the ruckus). This would repeat later in the evening with Wisconsin (and, truth be told, other states that I did not think of as barometers), and Rachel Maddow’s unintentionally-amusing sulfur-face acted as the substitute for Richard Sherman’s horrified, televised frown from two years earlier.
Alex Swoyer: I remember being certain Donald Trump would come out on top when Florida was tied with only the panhandle left to be counted. Trump had massive support in that area and throughout the gulf coast states.
Alex Marlow: Watching the NYT tracker go from 85 percent Clinton to >95 percent Trump was one of the great pleasures of my life.
11 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Alex Marlow: After our live coverage ended, I left SiriusXM and walked uptown through Manhattan toward my Central Park South hotel and it was, as others have said, much like the zombie apocalypse (I’m a zombie movie superfan). The quiet was surreal. A Trump victory was inevitable at this point, but I was mostly in “work mode,” so I was not yet in a celebratory mindset. It was a privilege to be the caretaker of Breitbart.com at such a historic moment, and I was savoring it.
Jeff Poor: Throughout the night, The New York Times had a dial prognosticating which way the election would go — for Hillary or Trump. Once that dial passed the “tossup” category and moved to “leaning” toward Trump early in the evening, I knew Frum, Schmidt, and all the others forecasting a Hillary Clinton landslide were going regret their earlier prognostications. And that turned out to be the case.
Neil Munro, Editor: I got to the White House around 12:00 a.m. and the plaza at Lafayette Square was jammed with a mass of young people, some cheering, some shouting, most just watching. An allied mob of Islamic advocates, Black Lives Matter, and left-wingers snaked its way into and around the crowd, endlessly and pointlessly shouting “F*** Donald Trump, F*** Donald Trump.” One Trump supporter pushed himself into the middle of the Trump-haters and grinned from ear to ear as they yelled in his face. Bernie Sanders’ supporters stood around mournfully. The most bizarre behavior came from a few handfuls of wealthy female students who loudly wailed and wept, so manipulating their male friends to serve as resentful bodyguards for a public display of female anger and power.
Katherine Rodriguez: I had checked the electoral college map on Politico one last time before heading to bed, seeing Hillary ahead but not by much as Trump gained momentum. I was cautiously optimistic that I would not wake up to a “President Hillary Clinton” the next morning, but I expected the worst.
Charlie Spiering: When we finally got through security and into Trump Election HQ, Wisconsin was called for Trump. That’s when I knew it was real. The party atmosphere turned into a roar. People wearing red MAGA hats bought beers from the cash bar and began shouting, high-fiving, and chanting, “TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!” I snapped pictures with my Breitbart colleagues and slipped into the crowd directly in front of the stage. Fox News was being broadcast live and people were cheering and jeering the media as the election night rolled on. I spotted several campaign aides and even Sen. Jeff Sessions wading through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting supporters who were by the stage. I was witnessing history.
A friend spotted me in this AP photo of election night. It perfectly captures what I was feeling:
Another friend texted me to say, “I am so drunk, I want this done!”
Amanda House: The evening dragged on forever. Some of us were sitting on the ground near the bar — tired, anxious, and double checking our math. At some point, I remember seeing Canada’s immigration site had crashed. This was really happening. At this point, it seemed like it was Hillary who needed the miracle.
Joel Pollak, from How Trump Won:
Underneath my dress shirt, I am wearing a t-shirt bearing the face of Andrew Breitbart. I am not going to reveal it unless Trump is winning decisively. I begin to think about when: Wisconsin, or Michigan. I send some encouraging text messages to my wife. I watch the monitors, which are tuned to Fox News. The conservative network is showing the tense, bewildered scene at the Clinton party at the Jacob K. Javits Center. I keep ignoring those who say Trump is going to win—including the Times, which is now putting the probability of a Trump victory above 90 percent. Then, suddenly, Wisconsin is called. “It’s over,” I tell the people near me, as I remove my tie, and bare my Breitbart t-shirt to the world.
Rebecca Mansour: One by one, Trump was winning his “must have” states. But there was still that so-called “blue wall” of states that served as Hillary’s Maginot Line. Trump would have to flip at least one of them to win. And then it happened. Wisconsin was called for Trump!
I immediately jumped in our internal Slack channel and typed: “BLUE WALL DOWN!! BLUE WALL DOWN!!” That was the moment Trump won. As goes Wisconsin, so goes Pennsylvania. And Michigan.
Michigan would officially be called for Trump a few weeks after the election. But we knew that night Trump had won there.
Wynn Marlow: As November 8 began to bleed into November 9 and the election still unresolved, the mood in the ballroom took on a slightly surreal quality. At least for me, it felt kind of out-of-body, the finish line like a shimmering mirage in the distance. I remember letting out a victory yelp when Fox announced that Wisconsin had gone for Trump. That was unexpected. That was YUGE.
Some of the Breitbart crew on election night at Trump’s Victory Party in New York City, NY. From left to right: Molly Marlow, Amanda House, Alex Swoyer, Adelle Nazarian, Wynn Marlow. (Photo courtesy: Wynn Marlow, Breitbart News)
1 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Michael Patrick Leahy: Around one in the morning, I started getting calls from friends who were deliriously happy. “I can’t believe you were right that Trump would win!” was the consistent message from about half a dozen friends who called me during those early morning hours.
Frances Martel: I fell asleep sometime around 2 a.m. when it seemed like it was really going to end up being Trump’s win but not quite certain yet and had what I thought was a weird dream where Trump had given a victory speech and everything!
Wynn Marlow: The networks seemed to be taking an interminable time to call state results — as though they were dragging it out on purpose. The collected body in our ballroom began to groan loudly and yell at the TVs: “Call it!”
Charlie Spiering: At 2:30 a.m., the crowd was getting impatient while watching the Fox News reports live from Trump campaign party. Everyone in the room turned around and started shouting at the anchor, “Call it! Call it! Call it!” Some saw on their phones that the Associated Press had called Pennsylvania for Trump, and they demanded that the cable networks deliver the verdict.
At 2:40 a.m., Fox News made it official.
The exhausted crowd roared when Trump went onstage with all of his campaign team. It was over.
Wynn Marlow: Joyous famous faces like Jeff Sessions and Diamond and Silk began streaming out of the VIP room in a virtual conga line toward the stage that was being prepared for the newly elected President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. We all pressed into that part of the ballroom in exhausted anticipation. And then they arrived: Trump and his family and his campaign team, including our own Stephen K. Bannon. I don’t remember a word he said. All I knew was that we won!!!
Adelle Nazarian: Watching Trump and his family enter the room after he won was unlike anything I’d ever witnessed in my life. I fell in love with my country again that night.
Michelle Moons: As I watched the results roll in and the blue wall fall, I knew the grassroots movement I had seen in more states than I could keep track of would prevail that night. And as I watched enthusiasm rise in the Trump victory party and deflate among the Clinton election night event, I thought back to the faces and words of each rally-goer I interviewed along the way, from the teens to the seniors and those who said they were voting for the first time, for Trump, for the America First president who pledged to fight for those hurt by a failing economy, rising health insurance costs, illegal immigration, and politicians who fought more for their special interests than the American people.
Amanda House: When we got reports that Hillary was not going to the Javits Center and Podesta was going instead, all I could think was, “Wow … How embarrassing.”
Ben Kew: I sat there in my hotel room in Caracas, Venezuela, watching the BBC Coverage in disbelief as the results continued to roll in.
Alex Marlow: I set the front page one last time at around 3:30 a.m. and handed it off to Robert Marlow, our night editor (and my dad). I hit the airwaves again for SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily at 6:00 a.m. Reality finally set in for me as I opened the show. I got chills announcing to our audience that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States. I let a “Wow…” hang in the air for a few moments as our intro music played. I had never felt like I did at that moment.
If I had one regret about an otherwise perfect election day, it was that I didn’t get to spend enough time watching the contemptible media elite come to grips with the news live on air. It would have been hard to pick between Benedict ✨ Megyn ✨, Fake News CNN, far-left MSNBC, or myriad online streams from assorted NeverTrumpers and Obama Bros. It pains me to think about how much joy I missed while I was focused on work. Maybe someone will email me YouTube highlights.
Rebecca Mansour: On November 8, 2016, the Hobbits and Deplorables won. For those of us who had been fighting in the conservative trenches for years, it was a vindication.
That night, I scrolled through the comment section on our homepage and Facebook page to celebrate the moment with Breitbart readers. I was overwhelmed with gratitude toward them and astonished at what we accomplished together. It reminded me of how G.K. Chesterton described the reaction of the English victory over the Spanish Armanda or the Scots victory at Bannockburn: It was “a victory that astonished the victors.”
Jeff Poor: At 3 a.m. ET, around when most media outlets called the election for Trump, for a brief moment, there was a pause and contrition on CNN and MSNBC. That relief after years of know-it-all punditry lasted for a few hours. Then it was on to excuse-making and the next chapter of American politics.
Charlie Spiering: After waiting for a long time while Trump left the building, security finally let us out. It was past 3:00 a.m., and the bars in the area were all closed, so there was no time for additional celebrations. I walked to Trump Tower and watched as Trump fans continued to celebrate the historic night.
Ezra Dulis, Deputy Managing Editor: I don’t have very strong memories from election night, as I was just watching TV and working on a dozen tasks for the site. Looking back over the Breitbart Twitter account, it seems I had bookmarked a bunch of weird gifs from The_Donald and elsewhere to react as states were called. The final one — taken from the old Transformers cartoon — I remember was very cathartic as the race was called. “Meme magic” had won; a bunch of weirdos goofing off on social media really did have more pull than an unprecedented tidal wave of corporate propaganda.
Alex Marlow: We tend to keep it classy at Breitbart News. People were thrilled on our radio show and morning editorial calls, but we all knew we had a lot of work to do. The left and the media were going to double down, and we were already gearing up for that. We never let up. Ever. That’s our edge. That’s why we do so much winning.
Our last big front page election spread:
Aaron Klein: After three months on the campaign trail, I departed on a flight back to Tel Aviv, awed that I was able to play a role in getting out the truth and helping to shape the conversation of the race that changed the course of American history.
James Delingpole: It was like Brexit all over. Trump had won, I had won, and all the worst people really were as upset as I hoped. This was no time for magnanimity in victory. This was a time to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, hear the lamentations of their women. Soon YouTube would be filled with compilation films of tearful liberals on political comment shows and suchlike reacting to Trump’s election like it was the end of the world. Mwahahah. A beautiful new dawn had begun — and at last I felt like I was on the right side of history.
Wynton Hall: The Breitbart Facebook page was a full-blown party. No one wanted to leave; everyone wanted to comment and share.
Charlie Spiering: That morning was a blur. I hardly slept at all and finally gave up and went to Dominique Ansel to buy my wife a cronut for her birthday. When I got back, I ran into Jon Kahn at the hotel breakfast and we sat there drinking coffee while marveling at what had happened. Several members of Steve Bannon’s family arrived unexpectedly and I met them for the first time. They were very proud and excited for what was possible.
I still had to cover Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, which was pushed back for hours and my zombie mind was taking in all the reaction from cable news. After she finally spoke, I filed my last article on the historic 2016 election and ran to catch my train home.
Katherine Rodriguez: I noticed nearly half of the voters in my county went for Trump as I checked the election results the next morning. I scrolled through my Facebook feed and saw friends on both sides of the aisle either rejoicing or angry at the election results. As I checked Breitbart’s Facebook page/website, I came to the realization after seeing the insane amount of traffic on both the website and the Facebook page over the past 24 hours that I and many other writers at Breitbart played an incredible role in shaping the national conversation leading up to the election through the stories we wrote.
Robert Marlow: I praised the Lord my stellar track record of kept promises remained in tack, and there is still hope for Western Civilization.
Dan Flynn: My children always remember two particularly joyous events in my living room: Malcolm Butler intercepting a Russell Wilson pass on the goal line and Donald Trump’s similar goal-line stand against Hillary Clinton.
Adelle Nazarian: I fought hard to stay up to watch Hillary Clinton’s concession speech from my hotel room in Manhattan. When I saw her enter the screen around 10:30 a.m., my mind told me I should get some rest because she wasn’t going away anytime soon. It’s one year in and my prediction was spot on.
Chris Burgard, Filmmaker: When they announced that Trump was going to be the next president, my wife and I were not only elated, we weren’t surprised. However, our Hollywood producer friend who was with us was apoplectic and suddenly grey skinned. At first, she thought it was a joke. She went from disbelief to shock to horror to tears as it slowly sunk in that Hillary Rodham Clinton was not going back to the White House.
She tried to hide her anger, but the emotional storm of disdain that was brewing inside of her was palpable to everyone. The kind of uncomfortable that even really nice red wine can’t cover up. In the past year, we haven’t gotten together as much, and when we do, it is strained. But at least we still talk, which is more than I can say of some of our other Hollywood friends. People we’ve known for decades no longer speak to us because of 45. It’s so sad and yet such a great lesson in tolerance. Bless their hearts.
Raheem Kassam: When I saw the president-elect two days after the election in his Manhattan penthouse, he seemed to express the same sentiment. He actually couldn’t believe he had won. “What does this mean?” He asked a group of five of us, perched on his extra-long couch in his gaudy living room.
“So much,” I thought. “So, so much.”
Amanda House: I can’t wait to tell my grandkids.
Some New Members of the Breitbart Newsroom Share Their Experiences from November 8, 2016:
Ian Mason, DOJ and Legal Reporter: When it started to look like Trump had almost certainly won — when the lead in OH and FL looked insurmountable and WI and PA looking very good — my most distinct memory was my host saying something like, “Ian Ian, I’m excited too, but you have to stop I have neighbors below.” I hadn’t realized I’d been jumping up and down for almost a minute. It just hadn’t even occurred to me.
We knew this was really long before the announcement. I was teary-eyed for Trump’s speech, but it was Podesta coming out for Hillary that really made it sink in. A world turned upside down. They had no idea what to do. They hadn’t planned for “what happened.” That was when I knew for certain things would never be the same.
Penny Starr, Political Reporter: I may be one of the few Donald Trump supporters who didn’t stay glued to the television all night. In fact, after watching the liberal media drone on and on about how Hillary was going to win, I decided I’d rather get a good night’s sleep than listen to the talking heads. And against all odds and polls, I believed Trump would win. When I awoke, I was literally afraid to boot up my computer to find Hillary Clinton was the 45th president of the United States. But when Trump’s photo popped up, I knew the Obama administration was finally over and America might just be great again.
Kristina Wong, Pentagon Correspondent: From the minute that Florida went red, I knew I was watching something historic. Since I was not covering the election, I was at a bar in D.C., and around me was mostly gloom. I went to bed with the results inconclusive and woke up to Donald Trump being our next president! He had defied D.C. and the political class. All of the city seemed silent that day, but I remember feeling relieved and excited. The little guy — outside of D.C. — had spoken.