Junior political science major Ameerah Ahmed stayed up till 4 a.m. on Election Day to watch live coverage of the presidential election.
Ahmed knew the Associated Press couldn’t possibly call the race that night, but her nerves, she said, “wouldn’t allow her to sleep.”
Roughly 56.9 million people tuned in to Election Day coverage across 21 networks Tuesday to find out if Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden would unseat President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office. Swing states are working overtime to process a pandemic-driven surge of mail-in ballots while Americans wait for the AP to call one of the closest and most competitive elections in United States history. Election officials have warned that results may come days, or even weeks, after Election Day. As of Friday morning, Biden held 264 electoral votes while Trump held 214, according to the AP. The fate of the presidency now lies in the hands of Nevada, Pennsylvania, Alaska, North Carolina and Georgia. Due to state-specific mail-in ballot deadlines and historic voter turnouts, election results have been significantly delayed. While people are anxiously waiting to know which candidate will take the White House, stores and small business owners are boarding up their shops in preparation for possible riots.
UB Distinguished Political Science Professor James Campbell, who also stayed up till 4 a.m., said he wouldn’t be “surprised” if there were riots in the days to come.
“Local Democratic political leaders have tolerated them and the left wing press describes them as “peaceful protests,” Campbell wrote in an email to The Spectrum. “If we don’t elect candidates committed to law and order, we should not expect law and order.”
Campbell believes President Trump should be re-elected because he has a “superb record” of foreign policy achievements and international trade deals that have “improved” the economy and adhered to “common sense conservative principles,” which Campbell believes will help “all” Americans lead “more productive and safe lives.”
“Although [Trump] too often blurts out thoughts he might have better left unsaid and relentlessly engages in silly bragging and egotistical self-congratulations, he does not suffer fools gladly,” Campbell said. “He is a fighter and won’t be bullied or intimidated by an arrogantly biased press. So, though his leadership style is often derided, I think assessments [of his style] are superficial.”
Resident Hall Association Vice President and sophomore civil, structural and environmental engineering major Brennan Gorman said he is “absolutely” worried about the potential for riots to break out when election results are announced. He said it was “sad” to see people normalize looting and rioting that occurred after the death of George Floyd because many businesses will “suffer the most.”
“I think radicals on both sides can and will cause destruction,” Gorman said. “I think their voices outweigh the voices of the peaceful protesters which we have seen in [past] protests. The riots have destroyed everyone else’s thoughts and feelings, which is kind of sad that those who should be heard aren’t being heard.”
Ahmed said nervous would be an “understatement” to describe how she felt watching the live election coverage. She attributes the “huge” amount of uncertainty about who will win the presidential election to the “surprising” outcome of the 2016 election.
“Many people have expressed their dislike and distrust for both candidates due to their questionable political track [records],” Ahmed said. “However, over the past four years, we’ve experienced a president who perpetuates racism, homophobia, misogyny, islamophobia, bigotry... and we simply cannot allow for that to happen again.”
Ahmed, who is the president of the Black Student Union, said she is “rooting” for the Biden-Harris campaign because America “deserves better leadership.”
“I am rooting for Biden-Harris because this country deserves better leadership than it has received these past four years and because I strongly condemn all forms of hate that Trump regularly perpetuates,” Ahmed said.
Jacob Neihiesel, an assistant political science professor, on the other hand, said he wasn’t really nervous when waiting for the election results. The only thing that upset him that night was the idea of waking up at 5 a.m. to visit WKBW’s morning show studio.
His feelings towards the election, he says, are difficult to describe.
“I love politics, but my job requires me to act as a dispassionate observer of political phenomena as viewed through a scholarly and analytic lens,” Neihiesel said. “I don’t think that I would be very good at my job if I were to approach things like elections not as a social scientist, but as an emotional ideologue.”
Gorman said once election night began, he would refresh his phone every 10 minutes and described feeling as though he were on the edge of his seat.
“On one screen I had the news with the live coverage, and [on] the other screen was the map from Associated Press,” Gorman said. “You saw the state of Texas was blue at one time and then it went red and then it was changing back and forth and you’re just on the edge of your seat.”
Gorman said he hasn’t been “worked up” about the election lately, but is “of course” still anxious.
“I’m very grateful that whatever candidate is decided [is] not going to affect me that much, but I’m [still] out here fighting for those who [the results] are going to affect the most,” Gorman said.
Alexandra Moyen is the editor-in-chief and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AlexandraMoyen
Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.