This year has seen some of the most unprecedented events in recent history, both globally and nationally. It’s fitting, then, that the results of the election are still uncertain, despite months of polling to the contrary. This week, we decided to ask several Gavelers to document their feelings on the night of the election, to help give context to its historical significance. We also included a response from Professor Kathleen Bailey, who teaches in the Political Science department.
Tune back in every few weeks for another Ask the Gav’, where we ask several Gavel members a pertinent question and compile their answers for your reading pleasure!
What was Election Day (and night) like for you?
Patrick Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief
Early on in the day, I tried my best to stay away from Twitter and get some work done in an attempt to distract myself. It didn’t work for long. I fully gave in at 7:00, when I sat myself in front of the TV and watched John King and his “Magic Wall” on CNN for the next eight hours. I did my best to mentally prepare for a nerve-wracking night that didn’t yield any definitive results, and that’s exactly what happened. The night started with very cautious excitement about states like Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, but quickly morphed into a battle that would clearly be won or lost up North in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. It’s an incredible experience to sit on the edge of your seat knowing that every American is doing the exact same thing. The night was exactly what I expected: stressful, maddening, and exciting, all at the same time.
Devyn Casey, Features Staff Writer
I was not mentally prepared for this election night, and don't think any amount of time could have prepared me. Bouncing back between various stations hearing "it's too early to call" increased my anxious feelings. I feel frustrated with the delay of election results, but I am grateful for the increase in my state's voter turnout. In a time where the country's divisions are more apparent, I find comfort in the unity of Boston College students through their use of "safe election corners" and the discussions I hear in Stuart and Mac regarding ways to cope with the uncertainty. It has been difficult to remain optimistic about this election, but I am encouraged by students' involvement across campus.
Neha Suneja, Culture Staff Writer
The experience of the anxiety surrounding this day and night has been quite surreal. It feels quite strange to be so invested in an election for a country that I am not even from, especially given that I don’t think I have ever cared this much about an election ever. While I truly appreciate professors moving tests and assignments to accommodate for the stress surrounding this day, it has only enhanced the salience of it, which does not do much to curb my nerves. Neither do calls from my parents to ensure I do not leave campus for fear of violence help in this regard, as well-intentioned as I know they are.
However, I feel that I am not alone in this sense of deep uncertainty about the future of this country, which is comforting. Invitations from friends to cry together (from joy or happiness) have made me feel supported and hopeful that there are individuals around me who are as invested and worried as I am.
I had a conversation with a professor today regarding the election which helped me to gain some perspective. We spoke about how we will have to find some learning from the past four years and hope that they have taught us enough that the country changes its ways. He described how Trump is not merely a person and a President, but an emblem of what the United States of America has been building to for a long time. It is up to its people to stare into the mirror that Trump functions as and call for change. Such a view made me hopeful about the idea that, as horrifying as I found Trump's reign, it might act as the catalyst for changing the country in a way that has been needed for decades.
At this point, I know I can’t really do anything, which is both a source of worry and solace. I am trying to emphasize the latter and to hope for the best.
Kelli Rodrigues, Associate Opinions Editor
Election night was filled with anxiety for me. I had an exam Wednesday morning so I was trying to study for that while simultaneously watching the results roll in, which was a lot to handle. All anyone was talking about in the days leading up to Tuesday was the election and what we thought would happen, and I found myself having to force myself to stay off of social media to avoid the rumors and anxious predictions. Besides the anxiety, though, I think I will also remember this night as one of togetherness. That night, my roommates and I sat in our living room, eating mozzarella sticks, compulsively refreshing the NYT results page, and watching coverage on our TV. We were all nervous and stressed, but we were there for one another and united by this common fear and hope for the future.
Sophie Muggia, Features Staff Writer
As if 2020 could handle any more anxiety, enter Election Day! Election Day and night were incredibly anxiety-inducing. I was watching ABC News all night and flipping between different channels while simultaneously checking the New York Times on my laptop. My roommates and I decided to destress by making a nice dinner and trying to help one another through this time. Earlier that day I did some phone banking for Joe Biden through the Pennsylvania Democratic Party as a way to ease my anxiety and make myself feel like I was doing my part beyond just voting. It’s an eerie and scary feeling thinking of all that is at stake in this electionーthe climate, human rights, healthcare, and so much more. I just hope that Americans will be on the right side of history this year.
Kaitlin McCarthy, Features Staff Writer
Election Day has left me with this oddly familiar sense of foreboding. As much as I’ve wanted to trust the news, I’m frustrated by the horse-race journalism and the constant reminder that things are too early to call. Some states will be counting ballots for the next few days, how can anyone expect an answer tonight? Waiting is the worst part. It’s frightening watching networks compare data from 2016 to today; things seemed so much more certain then, yet obviously weren’t. I’m hoping for the best and expecting… uncertainty?
Professor Kathleen Bailey, Political Science Department
I expected Biden to win pretty easily and planned for the election to be called by 10:00, which is my bedtime when I have an early class the next day. Instead, the race tightened uncomfortably and I still [hadn’t] gotten any sleep (it is now 6 a.m.). By 11:00 p.m., I was doom-scrolling and texting with a friend, eating brownies with red wine (bad combination), and becoming more depressed as Florida was called for Trump and his enablers were winning their Senate races. I vowed to get to sleep by 2 a.m. but then heard Trump’s comments about halting the vote counting, contending that he already won. On the bright side, I now have a lot more material for my 9:00 class [on Nov. 4] on dictatorship.
As you read this, I'm probably eating popcorn, napping, or playing Mario Kart. Or some combination of the three.