Victoria election watchers out in force tonight

There are plenty of places for Victorians to gather and watch the U.S. election tonight — but the vibe might favour Hillary Clinton fans and those keen on political drama.

The Democrats Abroad Victoria chapter sold out their election watching party at the maple room of the Sticky Wicket Pub.

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“They have overflow seating that will fit 100 more,” said chair Giles Hogya, who moved to Victoria 45 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio.

The international organization has hosted similar events for previous elections and debates. They have one big goal: “To get out the vote,” said Hogya, a former theatre professor at University of Victoria.

“In Canada, we’ve helped 20,000 Americans vote in swing states.”

Hogya described the 2016 election as “a long and torturous affair ... like a reality show gone wild. That is where Donald Trump has taken it.” It’s unfortunate negativity has downplayed the fact that the U.S. is on the verge of its first female president, he said.

His group will closely watch key states, such as New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada and Florida. “If Trump loses New Hampshire, it may be all over for him. I have no doubt Hillary is going to win. What concerns me is what happens after. Will Trump concede? What is his game plan?”

Hogya said he’s never met a Trump supporter in Victoria and thinks the businessman’s rise is due to a backlash against the Republican party. “[It] has not delivered on its promises to members. They find themselves in a downward trajectory economically and are frustrated.”

A few blocks away at the Odd Fellows Hall on Douglas Street, a group has invited hundreds to watch and celebrate the election as a means to cope with either result.

“Either outcome is certain to spread renewed despair and deprivation to this unceded continent with prolonged environmental and militaristic destruction,” said the Social Coast’s Facebook invitation, which promises food, drink and dancing. Clinton and Trump impersonators will make an appearance, as well as a GOP elephant piñata.

“It’s watching from a Canadian perspective, just to see the spectacle of it all,” said organizer Marko Curuvija, who is using the event to raise funds for a homeless outreach project.

The Yates Street Taphouse and Grill has been packed for all three election debates and expects another big crowd tonight. “I was surprised to see there wasn’t a lot of division, but some great discussion,” said owner Grant Turner.

Janni Aragon, an American expat and political science professor at UVic, will watch the election at the campus pub. “I do think Hillary is going to win. Until it’s done I won’t be able to exhale,” said Aragon, who is from San Diego but has lived in Victoria for 12 years. The Student Union Building has an all-ages venue for election watchers in the former Vertigo nightclub. The over-19 crowd can go to Felicita’s Pub.

Aragon said she has never seen this level of vitriol and discord in a presidential campaign. She is worried about violent threats against Clinton by Trump supporters and that voters could be intimidated at the polls.

Suzanne Beaubien, a UVic graduate from Chemainus, will be watching in New York.

“I can’t vote because I’m not a citizen. But the election is important to me because I live here and have to live with the results,” said Beaubien. She made red “Hillary” pantsuits to wear with her daughter, Lucy, today when they visit a voting place with her husband.

“My daughter is eight years old, which means this is the first election campaign that she will actually remember, and it makes me so sad and anxious to think of how the threats by Trump of violence against his female opponent . . . have the power to chip away at a girl’s sense of self value,” Beaubien said.

“I wanted to make the pantsuits for Lucy and myself as a visual sign of our support for Hillary. Also, I wanted to diffuse some of the stress over the election by doing something positive that would make people smile. We plan on going to the poll in our pantsuits and then give high-fives for Hillary.”


> More coverage of the U.S. election, C4, C5

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