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Why presidential transitions have to begin so early
01:54 - Source: CNN

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Even for the winners, the night is not necessarily a celebration

Past transition leaders describe the mindset

Washington CNN  — 

Away from the balloon drops of victory and somber concessions of defeat on election night, a small club of political animals will be watching under very different circumstances.

For the few hundred people who have been working for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s transition efforts, the results of the election either mean the beginning of some of the most intense months of their life – or the end of a heap of prep work that heads to the shredder.

They have spent the past several weeks feverishly drafting options for what a Trump or Clinton administration would look like, assembling names for potential appointments, figuring out how to execute policy promises and drawing up an agenda for the first 100 days in office.

The winners have to keep in mind they’re working bright and early the next morning.

“I remember on election night I could not go to Chicago and watch the victory party because were we to win, I would have to open the transition office next morning,” recalled Christopher Lu, President Barack Obama’s transition executive director.

What is a presidential transition?

He said he watched the returns from DC.

“I recall being at a bar up on Capitol Hill and people asked me what I did, and I said I worked for Sen. Obama and I think they all