After months of partisan divisions, contentious debates and heavy emotions on both sides, Donald J. Trump is the 45th president. The Associated Press announced him the winner at 2:30 a.m. with 279 necessary electoral votes.
Hours before, live music filled the air as students joined at the Pro Humanitate Institute to watch the historic election unravel. Promoted as “One Crazy 2016 Election Night Watch Party,” the evening presented waves of emotions as votes gradually came in.
The event served as a place of gathering for hundreds of students searching for community on election night.
To ease the overwhelming atmosphere of stress, Wake the Vote invested in free food trucks, a live band, games and multiple televisions streaming different political channels.
“I wanted to come because this is a really important election,” said sophomore Maggie Powell. “I needed to be around my peers when the votes came out, so I wasn’t just upset and alone in my room.”
The high turnout at the Wake the Vote party reflected the significance of young voters in this election.
In 2012, President Obama captured 60 percent of the millennial vote, helping pave his way to ultimate victory. This election, Hillary Clinton received just over half of the millennial vote.
As votes came in, it became more apparent that Trump had a clearer path to victory than was expected. On Monday, Nov. 7, the day before the election, the most well-respected polls gave Clinton an undeniable lead going into election night. She had a 65.5 percent chance of beating Trump for the presidency.
At the beginning of the night, vote totals hinted at a Trump victory as he gradually began to win key battleground states, specifically, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. By midnight, Trump was clearly leading Clinton with over half of the necessary electoral votes.
“I feel very confused about what is going on right now,” said sophomore Mariam Syed. “At this point, I realize that I should not look at polls anymore, because they basically guaranteed Clinton was going to win.”
Her confusion reverberated around the country. A Clinton victory was relatively guaranteed by different polls predicting her success in crucial swing states.
At this point in the evening, when a Trump victory seemed to be a guarantee, students filed out of the Pro Humanitate house, whether in celebration or in remorse to watch him accept his new position. After the Associated Press announced Trump’s victory, Hillary Clinton did the same.
“Donald Trump is going to be our president,” Clinton said. “I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
The Wake Forest campus acts as microcosm for the nation as a whole. It is a strong community that, although separated along partisan lines, still joins together to celebrate the victories and mourn the losses of its members. President Nathan Hatch reminded students of this sentiment that reflects on campus the morning after the election.
“Today we have as much of a decision as we had yesterday,” Hatch wrote. “Whether you were greeted with joy or despair this morning, we have a choice in how we treat one another. We are a community that profoundly values intellectual discourse and diverse viewpoints. Even more important, we are people who profoundly value one another.”