Pamela Hall grabbed for her necklace, tossing the diamond pendant between her thumb and forefinger. Tears welling in her eyes, she looked around Meridian Mall Macy’s to check for customers.
“This is my depression necklace,” said the bridal registry consultant. “I bought it for myself two days after Election Day. Whenever I’m feeling sad about the election outcome, I just grab for my necklace and remind myself that God is in control.”
Hall’s reaction was not an uncommon one – 94 percent of Clinton supporters said they would feel scared if Donald Trump won the election, according to CNN exit poll data. After Trump was declared president-elect, many Lansing-area women have said they’re experiencing feelings of disbelief, apprehension and a sense of gratitude for Hillary Clinton.
“I spent a lot of time grieving afterwards, not only because she lost, but because I was terrified of what this man (Trump) was going to bring out in people,” said Palak Sabbineni, Michigan State University communications post-graduate alumna. “But I’m very thankful because Clinton and the policies she stood for were the silver lining to Trump’s dark cloud.”
Clinton’s racial justice policies and advocacy for women were just two of the many reasons Sabbineni felt invested in Clinton’s campaign. She made donations and attended rallies, knowing she wouldn’t be able to vote in the election because she is not a U.S. citizen.
“She kept fighting the good fight, despite the bullying, the sexism, the hate and everything else,” Sabbineni said.
Kelly Schweda, another avid Clinton supporter living in Jackson, said Clinton’s positions on health care, abortion rights and protections against discrimination fostered her commitment to the Clinton campaign. Schweda not only voted, but displayed a yard sign, spoke out on social media and donned a Clinton shirt. She is a member of the national and state Pantsuit Nation.
Such ardent support for the Democratic party candidate was not limited to Michigan women alone.
Nationally, Clinton won the popular vote among women at 54 percent, though she was largely favored by women of color – 94 percent of black women and 68 percent of Latina women voted for her. Over half of white women voted for Trump, according to CNN exit polls.
Schweda said she couldn’t imagine women of any race voting for Trump after his comments about women. But she says some white women she knows who supported Trump did not believe those statements were true. CNN reported that 87 percent of Trump voters said his treatment of women does not bother them at all.
“It really speaks to how racist America really is,” Hall said. “We can pretend that we all are trying to get along and we’ve come a long way, but we have some really racist and sexist views.”
These national averages hit close to home – with many Michigan demographic averages falling within 1 percentage point of all national data. Black, post-graduate or non-religious Michigan residents were most likely to vote Clinton, while most white, Protestant or Catholic voters supported Trump.
Joan Horvath, deputy clerk of Meridian Township, was specifically surprised by Meridian’s voting turnout, stating that white women in particular generally fall more demographically Democratic. She said Michigan turnout mirrored country-wide voting because percentages of demographics are likely similar.
Despite lingering fear among Lansing-area women, “the presidential outcome won’t change how the township operates at all,” she said.
Though Horvath predicts a lack of change to local governments, there remains some debate among women on how to move forward nationally – after what some are calling a crippling election outcome. Echoing Clinton’s sentiments in her concession speech, many are inspired to keep fighting for Clinton’s policies.
“We will band together as people who care and are aware,” Sabbineni said. “We have even more work to do now than before.”
Then there are women like Pamela Hall – those who remain unable to face Clinton’s loss.
“I’m sure this is a dream, but I can’t wake up,” she said, grabbing for her necklace once more.
“A customer tried to tell me that this should be my happy necklace instead. But it will always be my depression necklace. I wouldn’t need it if this had never happened.”