CL's 2016 Election Night coverage

A night of political parties, dashed hopes, and major change

Well, this is it. After more than a year of vicious campaigning, exposes, and missteps, we have come to the end of the 2016 presidential campaign. Georgia polls close at 7 p.m. Other states will stop collecting ballots as the night progresses. The votes will be counted and eventually, the next president will be decided.

CL staffers and contributors will be covering what's happening in Atlanta and sending reports from the craziness. Sean Keenan will be hobnobbing with Democrats at the Hyatt Regency. I'll be at the Georgia Republican Party soiree in Buckhead because I enjoy awkward social situations. Joeff Davis will be roaming the city and sending photos from such spots as Manuel's Tavern, Mary's, and elsewhere.

Check in often, or just refresh every once in a while, for updates. Please note we're dealing with very spotty Wi-Fi. And really spotty cell service. The tech gods are not smiling on us tonight.


Nov. 9

Here's a quick rundown on who won and lost and what ballot measures passed or failed. 

- Obviously, you heard about the presidential race.

- Atlantans overwhelmingly approved a 0.5-percent sales tax to fund MARTA expansion inside the city limits. A slightly smaller percentage approved a 0.4-percent sales tax to build bridges, streetscapes, and the Atlanta Beltline.

- Voters approved a controversial Constitutional amendment to give state lawmakers a say in an agency that investigates judge's misbehavior and a fee on strip clubs to help sex-trafficking victims. They also shot down Gov. Nathan Deal's push to allow the state to take over failing schools. 

- Say hello to the City of South Fulton.

Nov. 8

2:09 a.m. 

The Democrats have exited the building. And roughly 250 Republicans are still in Buckhead, booing John Podesta as they watch the Clinton advisor urge the Democratic nominee's supporters to "go home and get some sleep." We will continue monitoring the craziness that's continuing to unfold.

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12:35 a.m.

There are still a few precincts left to be counted, but it's safe to say that the MARTA sales tax referendum has passed. Officials say the 0.5-percent sales tax will raise at least $2.5 billion over 40 years to fund the expansion of the agency's rail and bus network inside the City of Atlanta. Here's a breakdown of the votes in Fulton, where the majority of Atlanta is located:

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And here's TSPLOST for the same part of Atlanta:

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12:08 a.m.

Porter hopped atop the stage once more to say, although the Democrats didn’t claim a Clinton win for Georgia, they’re still picking up state Senate and House seats. “When this election began not everyone believed that Georgia would be a toss up, but we did; you did,” he said to the few dozen people remaining in the nearly silent ballroom. “Our party is stronger. Our party is better. Our party will elect a Democratic governor in 2018. We have put Republicans on notice: We’re better than divisive politics, than the dark days of our past.”

CNN’s feed shows Trump leading by nearly 30 electoral votes, as Americans await “cliff-hangers” such as Michigan. Custodial staff of the Hyatt Regency have begun cleaning up around the few people remaining. — SK

11:42 p.m.

The crowd went silent when Wolf Blitzer called the national competition “a real nail-biter” as he pointed out that Trump had taken the electoral lead by seven points. Then, as the energy in the room drained, CNN anchors announced that Trump had taken Georgia. Less-than-enthusiastic boos could be faintly heard throughout the ballroom. — SK

Fox News — that's what we're tuned to at the GOP party in Buckhead — called Georgia a Trump win and the crowd erupted with chants of "USA, USA, USA" and "Trump! Trump! Trump!" People posed with an oversized sign declaring "Georgia is Trump Country" and elected officials, including state Sen. Rene Unterman, R-Buford, the architect behind the Constitutional amendment to fine strip clubs to raise money for sex-trafficking victims, applauded and hugged. — TW

11:30 p.m.

Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman DuBose Porter took the stage for at least the second time of the evening — maybe third; it’s been a long night — to announce that a few Georgia Democrats, Tonya Anderson and Bill McGowan, had claimed some wins for the minority party. Anderson will take the District 43 state Senate seat from its incumbent, Janice Van Ness. McGowan will fill the state House of Representatives spot previously held by Mike Cheokas of District 183.

Porter also announced that Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District plan, which would have allowed the state to take over failing schools, had been shot down. “We’ve already got some wins on the board,” he said to the still-rowdy, yet dwindling ballroom population. “Let’s keep watchin’.”

11:20 p.m.

Outside of Manuel's Tavern:

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11:00 p.m.

CL's Joeff Davis stopped by Mary's in East Atlanta Village, where bartenders are serving red- or blue-colored shots depending on which way the vote appears to be heading.

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Meanwhile, back in Downtown's Hyatt Regency, Keenan writes:

The ballroom crowd raised a cheerful ruckus when CNN reported that Clinton had claimed the California vote, but they shuddered and booed when the screen showed Trump had taken Hawaii. Cheers erupted again seconds later when CNN flashed the electoral score showing the Democratic candidate ahead by 19 points.

10:45 p.m.

Standing in the hallway outside a private, upper-floor suite, MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe told CL he thinks all three referenda to boost transportation infrastructure — Atlanta's and Fulton's separate TSPLOST and the MARTA referendum — will be OK'ed by voters. Soon after the interview, polling results showed Atlanta’s MARTA and TSPLOST referenda each won more than 65 percent of the vote, with almost 90 percent of precincts tallied. Fulton’s TSPLOST vote had claimed support from about 53 percent of voters at that time.

“The results so far are a sign of Atlanta’s desire for more transit and more transportation options,” Ashe said. “In Atlanta, these referenda results mean that we now have the resources in place to be able to reshape Atlanta’s transportation future.” — SK

10:15 p.m.

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Mayor Kasim Reed says he was “receiving too many texts from folks who were nervous” about Hillary Clinton’s numbers in Georgia. “I think it’s gonna be tight all night,” he says. When asked, he told reporters he has no intention of joining Clinton’s cabinet if she ekes out a win. “I’m going to be in Atlanta. There’s too much going on in Atlanta; I just want to finish the work that I have,” Reed says.

“The closeness of this election is going to change Georgia’s position in national politics. We are making a constant argument that Georgia was winnable for Clinton, and people didn’t believe," he says. "The election results tonight show that, with the right set of circumstances, we can win.”

He also thanked voters for pushing the TSPLOST and MARTA referenda toward success. He added that Clinton “believes in cities and infrastructure building. Georgia has substantial infrastructure needs that are more likely to be fulfilled under a Clinton presidency.” He said the centerpiece of “Don Trump’s” campaign is a multi-trillion dollar tax cut. — SK

10 p.m.

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Jim Barksdale makes a quick sweep through the Hyatt Regency’s now-packed ballroom. He takes the stage to reiterate his congratulations of Johnny Isakson, the incumbent U.S. Senator who had claimed the win about a half hour prior.

Eaves told CL that he commends Barksdale for his bravery to run against Isakson. Barksdale said he found inspiration in the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “He found that it wasn’t so important that he realized his dreams,” he told the crowd. “What’s important is that he tried.”

Barksdale said he’s proud of all the Democrats who’ve been running for office and all his staff who’ve been hustling to “bring these dreams to fruition.” — SK

9:34 p.m.

The Associated Press have called the U.S. Senate race for Johnny Isakson, the Republican incumbent, against Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley. He's scheduled to speak with the press here in Buckhead at 9:45 p.m. — TW

9:17 p.m.

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9:06 p.m.

With roughly one-third of counties reporting, the Constitutional amendment to raise cash for sex-trafficking victims by taxing strip clubs has strong support. — TW

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8:47 p.m.

After changing into Buckhead-appropriate clothes, braving traffic, and finding a spot on the crowded WiFi network, I’m now at the Grand Hyatt. The crowd is... let’s just say the Republican Party’s minority outreach effort is not immediately seen in this ballroom. Room to grow!

Mixed among the crowd are U.S. Sen. David Perdue, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, all Republicans. We’ve yet to see Gov. Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston, or Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. Congressman Barry Loudermilk is also talking with supporters.

With each annonucement that Trump has gained even a little traction in contested states — especially Florida — you hear crowds from the crowd. And now Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, the first statewide GOP official to endorse Trump, is taking the stage. — TW

7:45 p.m

Around 7 p.m. left-leaning Georgians began filing into a ballroom at Downtown's Hyatt Regency Hotel to sip cocktails and chomp charcuterie while awaiting the results of arguably the most embattled presidential election in modern times.

Hillary Clinton supporters, some in black ties, some in white tees, roared their praise when ABC anchors announced projected wins for the Democratic hopeful — and when a state was still "too close to call" — and growled boos when Republican candidate Donald Trump was suspected of claiming a state’s vote.

Some of Georgia’s Democratic leaders also milled around the ballroom, spouting endorsements for Clinton as well as other measures on the 2016 ballots. Fulton County Chairman John Eaves could be seen chatting up reporters, supporters, and the self-proclaimed leader of Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, Sir Maejor Page, among others. He said the local measures on the ballot might be as impactful, if not more so, than the results of the commander in chief race.

U.S. Senate candidate Jim Barksdale’s people worked the crowd, and he’s rumored to be swinging through for some quick handshakes, although they said he won’t have much time for interviews.

Nearly two dozen floors above the ballroom, MARTA advocates hosted a “Citizens for Better Transportation” party, where the transit agency’s CEO Keith Parker talked with backers of transit infrastructure expansion.

Meanwhile, a flank of journalists tapped their feet awaiting Mayor Kasim Reed’s arrival. — SK

7:30 p.m.

The Opportunity School District, the Gov. Nathan Deal-backed Constitutional amendment that would allow the state to take over failing schools, is showing relatively little support at the moment.

Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, speaking by telephone, says the OSD ballot question and 0.5-percent sales tax to expand MARTA were the biggest issues on the ballot.

“There’s a lot of serious discontent about OSD,” says Hall, who says he voted against it. “Our children are always number one and there’s a need for a revolution in our education system... It’d be better to reinvent education system from the inside out than to have people come from the outside and bear down on groups, but there is a need for internal revolution, and it needs to happen now.

He says if he could have voted for the MARTA sales tax and the TSPLOST, a 0.4-percent tax to fund streetscapes, bridges, and Atlanta Beltline construction, a "thousand times yes, I would've." He's cautiously optimistic that both will pass. — SK

7:14 p.m.

If you were thinking about heading to Manuel's Tavern to watch, prepare to join a large crowd. CL's Chad Radford is there and sends along evidence that the Poncey-Highland bar is a packed house."I've never seen so many people at Manuel's!" he says via text. — TW

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7:00 p.m.

Save for a few locations that experienced difficulties during the day, polls in Georgia are now closed. — TW

6:42 p.m.

Congressman John Lewis, D-Atlanta, speaking by phone, says he thinks the contest between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump is the most important item on the ballot.

"This election will determine the future of America, maybe even the future of our planet," Lewis says. "My belief is that Hillary Clinton is better prepared to be president of the United States on day one than anyone I know in America today... I think the election of Hillary Clinton will move our country in the right direction, Trump would be a step backwards."

Lewis is facing Republican Douglas Bell in his own re-election effort. When asked about the race, Lewis says he feels "more than sure that the people of Georgia will reward me and send me back to congress." — SK

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