With election results spanning well into last week, former vice-president Joe Biden and California senator Kamala Harris became the 46th president and vice-president elect with 279 electoral votes.
“I feel like a big weight has been lifted off the shoulders of Americans across the country, like a big wave of darkness has lifted,” said Raiden Gonzales, freshman political science major and president of the Emporia State Young Democrats. “I said late (Saturday) night during the victory speech here in Salina that hope would be restored here.”
With a record increase in voter turnout, many states remained uncalled and their electoral votes up for grabs well past Tuesday night and into the weekend.
“A lot of us felt defeated on Tuesday night when the middle most section of our country went red, we felt defeated,” Gonzales said. “We had a loss but not a major loss. Doctor (Barbra) Boiler lost her race when she shouldn’t have, and we felt like we should have done more for her and other candidates…Pennsylvania and Georgia really flipped the script.”
With Harris becoming the first woman vice-president elect, Gonzales said many members were more hopeful than ever about the future.
“History has been made and I am proud to call Kamala Harris vice-president, madam vice-president in fact,” Gonzales said. “I’ve been seeing celebrations around the streets and around the world, even in Lawrence. I have not seen anything like this, and it is so heartwarming to see this again.”
A sitting president has not lost reelection since George H.W. Bush lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, making Trump the 11th incumbent to lose reelection.
“This was not surprising, it was COVID-19,” said Michael Smith, professor of political science and chair of the department of social sciences. “Trump was likely to be reelected. The economy was recovering after his first term until the COVID-19 pandemic came about and of course all the controversy on how he handled it probably cost him the election.”
According to Smith, it was not unusual to see the election process take so long.
“I am not surprised,” Smith said. “We had a record number of people voting absentee, early and by mail and we were warned repeatedly that it would take ample time to get all the votes counted.”
Despite the surprise of an incumbent losing reelection, Smith said the general results were a mix of wins and loses for the Democrats.
“Of course I have my personal opinions, but with my analyst hat on the results of the election was pretty mixed,” Smith said. “Not a lot of change in congress, but of course the race in Georgia can affect that balance of power. Overall there was less change than we were expecting.”
Members of the ESU Young Republicans were asked for comment, but did not respond or refused to comment.
“This is the first election during a pandemic in my lifetime and one of the only ones in U.S. history,” Smith said. “Several states now almost do the entirety of their elections by mail and I wonder how many more states will jump on that bandwagon…Utah being one of the most recent to join, and that was even before the pandemic, so that’s one of the things I would be looking for…you really have to wonder if notarizing absentee ballots is obsolete and replaced with digital verification tech.”
Students seeking counseling services can find resources for on-call support in the Election Support module on the Counseling Center Resources CANVAS page or call the Student Wellness Center at 620-341-5222.