The 2016 presidential election had the attention of Bradley students and Americans across the country Tuesday night as Republican candidate Donald Trump defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to become the president-elect of the United States.
Election night kicked off on the Hilltop in the Michel Student Center ballroom at a party put on by the Department of Political Science. Political science professor Megan Remmel organized the event and said she didn’t know what to expect in regard to student turnout.
“I genuinely had no idea what [the turnout] would look like,” Remmel said. “If people are happy and they’re here, [then] I’m happy.”
Junior management and leadership major Kamren Coutee attended the event and said she felt it was a good format to encourage open dialogue among students.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to engage a very controversial election with people who both agree and disagree with you in a casual and relaxed environment,” Coutee said.
While the election watch party ended at 11 p.m., the election itself changed as the night went on and more votes were counted.
Florida, a battleground state that carries 29 electoral votes, or more than 10 percent of the electoral vote required to win the election, was deemed a Trump victory. President Barack Obama won the state in 2012.
Junior political science and philosophy double major Gerry Regep said he was surprised by the result of Florida.
“To be honest, Trump campaigned hard in North Carolina, so it didn’t surprise me as much,” Regep said. “What really shocked me as a political science student was Trump taking Florida.”
Clinton continued to lose states previously won by President Obama throughout the night. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, states President Obama won in 2008 and 2012, were both declared Trump victories.
Some students who voted for Trump said they originally anticipated a Clinton victory, but as the night progressed, they became more confident. Junior marketing major Jeff Arseneau said once key swing states started being declared Trump victories, he began to believe Trump would win.
“When I started seeing states like North Carolina, Florida and Wisconsin go to Trump, that’s when I knew he was going to win, and [I] was in shock to be honest,” Arseneau said. “I think this election shows that Americans aren’t completely influenced by the media, and it also shows how fed up this country is with the ‘typical’ politician.”
Trump was named the winner of the 2016 presidential election early Wednesday morning. In his victory speech, Trump promised he would work to unify the country.
“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me,” Trump said. “For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people … I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
Some students were not convinced by the sentiments made by Trump in his victory speech. Freshman theatre arts major Abigail Ticho said Trump’s speech was a lie.
“I believe his speech was trying to come off as genuine, but I also believe it reflected how much of a liar he is, even more so than before,” Ticho said. “Everything he said in his speech contradicted all of the hatred he has thrusted on so many Americans. He has continually demeaned races and genders throughout his candidacy and asks that [now] we all get along?”
Later on Wednesday, Clinton delivered her concession speech, during which she made a statement to American women, both young and old.
“Now, I know, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now,” Clinton said. “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams.”
The final* electoral vote count of the election is 290 to 232 in Trump’s favor.
*As of the time of print, Michigan’s 16 electoral votes have not been assigned.