Women respond to Hillary Clinton's stunning loss

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Nov 9 (Reuters) - They wore pantsuits to their polling places, emulating the preferred dress of their White House candidate. Some wept with emotion and others remembered their female ancestors as they cast their vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But rather than witness the shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling, women across America watched an historic breakthrough slip away as Clinton failed to become the first woman elected president of the United States.


SEE MORE: In-depth coverage of the 2016 election

Republican Donald Trump, who had waged a heated campaign painting the former secretary of state as "crooked" and threatening to put her in jail, swept to surprise victory on an anti-establishment platform.

See the heartbreaking photos of Hillary Clinton supporters from last night:

29 PHOTOS
Clinton supporters are fleeing her election night party in tears
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Clinton supporters are fleeing her election night party in tears

A supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton watches and waits at her election night rally in New York, U.S., November 8, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

A Clinton supporter stands alone in the bleachers after Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's election night rally was canceled at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Supporters of U.S Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton react as a state is called in favour of her opponent, Republican candidate Donald Trump, during a watch party for the U.S. Presidential election, at the University of Sydney in Australia, November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

A supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton watches and waits at her election night rally in New York, U.S., November 8, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Musician Lagy Gaga sits in her car after staging a protest against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump outside Trump Tower in New York City after midnight on election day November 9, 2016. Donald Trump stunned America and the world, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States. The Republican mogul defeated his Democratic rival, plunging global markets into turmoil and casting the long-standing global political order, which hinges on Washington's leadership, into doubt.

(DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Guests react to election results as they appear on a large television monitor during Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's election night rally in the Jacob Javits Center glass enclosed lobby in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A supporter uses his smartphone as others leave Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's election night rally in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton react at the election night rally in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

A person talks on the phone at Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's election night event at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center November 9, 2016 in New York City. Clinton is running against Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States.

(Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Emily Benn stays in a seat at the end of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's election night rally at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

At attendee reacts while kneeling on the floor during an election night party for 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton at the Javits Center in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. 

(Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

An attendee reacts while sitting on the floor during an election night party for 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton at the Javits Center in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

(Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Matt Sanborn of Laconia, N.H., a Boston College student who volunteered for Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton and New Hampshire Democratic Senate candidate, Gov. Maggie Hassan, rests his hands on the top of his head while watching election returns during an election night rally in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A woman weeps as election results are reported during Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's election night rally in the Jacob Javits Center glass enclosed lobby in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Wellesley College students and supporters of Hillary Clinton Kumari Devarajan, of Washington, left, and Diana Castillo, of Elgin, Ill,, right, wipe away tears as they watch televised election returns during a watch party on the campus of Wellesley College, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Wellesley, Mass. Clinton graduated from Wellesley College in 1969.

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A supporter of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reacts at her election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A supporter of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reacts at her election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
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"I was looking forward to having a woman president. I really was. I can't believe people voted for that terrible man," said Mariana Mejia, 61, sitting at a subdued party at California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento.

Some women defied their own political tradition to vote for the first woman presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. Republican Cassandra Pye, a pioneering African-American political consultant who advised former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said she felt the pull of history as she cast her ballot for Clinton.

"I feel like even though I vote in the booth alone, there are always people in there with me," Pye said. "My ancestors, my mother, my aunties - there were a lot of people in the booth with me today."

A polarizing figure with a long history in the public eye, Clinton entered the White House as first lady in 1993, after her husband, Bill Clinton, defeated incumbent George H. W. Bush.

Her ambition immediately clashed with the public's image of a first lady, and Clinton won enemies as swiftly as she earned the adoration of many progressive women.

When she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton conceded that "although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it," referring to the number of votes she had won.

'A VERY HARD STRUGGLE'

Women who had pinned their hopes on Clinton gave a nod to their political history on Tuesday, forming a long line to leave "I Voted Today" stickers on the gravestone of women's suffrage activist Susan B. Anthony.

Others, dressed in white like the suffragettes who campaigned for a woman's right to vote and wearing pantsuits like those favored by Clinton, posed for photos at state Capitol buildings and other iconic locations.

Several bemoaned the fact that U.S. women won the right to vote in 1920 and nearly a century later the country has yet to elect a woman president.

"It's been such a hard struggle for women, a very hard struggle," said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who in 1992 made history along with Senator Dianne Feinstein as the first women elected from California to the U.S. Senate. "It's a very emotional moment."

Trump, a wealthy real estate developer and former reality TV star, defied political correctness with comments that angered women, minorities and the disabled. He denied allegations by several women that he groped them after the emergence of a video where he boasted about making unwanted sexual advances on women.

At the Sacramento Democratic party gathering, some women lamented his victory and the long, difficult trek for women to win positions of power.

"I thought by the time I hit 61 it would be different for women and minorities," said Chris Cage, 61, a former journalist and labor organizer. "I see a victory for Trump as a vote against both."

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