In one of the most volatile elections in recent memory, filled with divisive rhetoric and scandals, Republican Donald Trump emerged early Wednesday morning as the country’s next president-elect.
The Associated Press announced that Trump won the election just after 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
This came after John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, announced around 2 a.m. that the campaign would “wait a little longer” for votes to be tallied and results to be finalized. However, several news outlets reported after the AP announcement that Clinton had conceded the election on a phone call to Trump.
“This is a big day in American history,” said senior and Trump supporter Brady Jackson. “This is ‘yuuuge’ as Donald Trump might say. I mean, I just think it’s a testament to the silent majority coming out and taking back our country... I’m as giddy as a schoolboy right now.”
First-year Nikhil Sridhar, vice-president of Duke’s Young Americans for Liberty and a Trump supporter, said he was looking forward to four years of “peace and prosperity.”
Among Clinton supporters at the election watch party in the Sanford School of Public Policy, however, there was an atmosphere of fear.
“I’m feeling legitimate anxiety about what’s going to happen with this,” senior Sai Panguluri said Tuesday night. “[Brexit] allowed a lot of people to express their very racist attitudes. As a person of color, I’m absolutely terrified that the same kind of thing will happen here, because we’ve seen a lot of Trump supporters being openly racist towards people of color.”
Before the election, several polls projected a Clinton victory, failing to account for Trump’s unexpected surge on election day.
“If I had to guess, there was an unstated level of support with Trump,” said Fritz Mayer, professor of public policy and political science.
Mayer noted that there was a surprisingly high turnout in largely white, conservative states.
“We live in a bubble here in Duke, in Durham,” he said. “This is a visceral, anti-establishment reaction.”
First-year Aditya Paruchuri, who said he supports Trump largely due to his opposition to Clinton, said the election has demonstrated the importance of not letting the media decide elections.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
“I hope the results of this election have exposed the media’s extensive imperfections, and that [the election] teaches voters to vote for whom they feel is the best candidate and not who the media thinks will win,” he said. “I am glad that this election is finally over and that politics will no longer consume my life until the next election.”
Mayer attributed Trump’s shocking emergence to the “so-called centrist media’s” sensationalism of Clinton’s email scandal and the Clinton campaign’s failure to show her relevance to the presidency.
“Trump had a coherent narrative of America—its decline and the need for a strongman. That’s a very appealing thing to a fearful nation,” Mayer said. “Hillary never had that. It’s in her nature. She doesn’t have as clear a story of where America is and why she’s the person for that moment.”
Students also noted the effects that Trump’s win will have on future domestic policies and foreign relations. Laurel Pegorsch, a master’s student in the Sanford School of Public Policy, said his election would have severe implications for trade and Supreme Court justices.
The election result will also significantly impact immigrants and minorities, added first-year Axel Herrera.
“I came in 2005 undocumented and am under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which was given by executive order,” Herrera said Tuesday night before the result was announced. “Whichever president is elected is the one who’s going to decide whether DACA stays or goes.”
Mayer agreed that the ramifications of a Trump presidency are profound, noting that “there’s going to be a lot of soul searching about how we got this wrong.”
Disbelief was a common emotion among Duke students Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
“I’m surprised that [Trump]’s getting a lot of these votes. He’s winning these traditional Republican seats, which is right, but Florida or Virginia are surprises,” first-year Ibrahim Butt said early in the evening. “As an international student and a Muslim student, in the past few days I’ve become a bit more fearful with the realization that if he is elected, we will have a president of the free world who has these backwards, manipulative views.”