How the SIU community reacted leading up to Trump’s unforeseen victory
Hundreds of students lined up at SIU’s three polling places Tuesday, and many of them faced a wait so long the presidential picture turned from blue to red while they stood in line.
Roughly 85 people were still in line to vote at the Student Center at 8 p.m. Tuesday, with about a two-hour wait ahead of them. Nearly 450 others voted earlier in the day at that precinct when the race still seemed very close between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Either way America is f—–,” said Briana Sams, a freshman from Chicago studying education, as she stood in line to vote at Lentz Hall. “It’s honestly a matter of voting for the better worse of the two.”
But, she said, many people seemed to take the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to the name they bubbled in on their ballot.
Results start leaning right
“I’m surprised at Trump’s strength,” David Yepsen, former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said about 9 p.m. as Trump took the lead over Clinton in electoral votes. “Trump is running better than a lot of polls predicted he would.”
As the night progressed, the failure of polls to reflect Trump’s strength became clear, even as Clinton won Illinois.
“I’m very disappointed in this election. We have been waiting in line for three hours and they have already declared Hillary as the projected winner for Illinois,” said Keely Robinson, a sophomore studying linguistics and German. “This election is very controversial. It’s like sticking a fork into either socket, but we are doing our duty as American citizens, which is the best we can do.”
By 10 p.m., Trump appeared to be about 100 electoral votes from winning, with Clinton 59 votes behind him. Then on early Wednesday morning, The Associated Press called the race for Trump, and Clinton reportedly called him to concede.
“Trump’s strength is a measure of the dissatisfaction that exists in the country,” Yepsen said before the race was called.
He said many of Trump’s votes came from blue-collar Democrats who previously voted for Obama. Yepsen said the polls predicting a Clinton win might have been inaccurate because it generally hasn’t been “cool” to be with Trump, with some voters backing Trump only once they stepped into the booths.
Genesis Ewell, a freshman from Memphis, Tenn., studying criminology and criminal justice, said the election had made him anxious.
“I’m hoping our country doesn’t fall apart,” he said.
Navreet Kang, a member of Carbondale’s City Council, said Trump will be good for the country.
“America has been the laughingstock of the world for years,” Kang said Tuesday afternoon during a victory party for Terri Bryant, who was re-elected to the Illinois House, and Mike Bost, who was re-elected to the U.S. House, at the Elks Lodge in Murphysboro. “We aren’t taken seriously. Trump’s policies will bring back jobs, help our economy and give us our credibility back. … I’m optimistic.”
Gloria Campos, a 59-year-old native of Nicaragua who moved to Murphysboro in 1978 with her husband and four kids, also attended the Murphysboro event.
“I have always had hope,” Campos, who serves as the chairman for the Jackson County Republicans, said. “Trump’s biggest weapon was the anti-politics movement he created. He said ‘Let’s make America great again’ and I think we all want that.”
Bryant said she wasn’t surprised by Trump’s lead.
“I’ve been telling people this is going to be a landslide,” she said. “Talking about strengthening the military, repealing Obamacare — that resonates with the American people. I wish we could’ve pulled through for him in Illinois.”
Anna Spoerre, Marnie Leonard, Diamond Jones, Tyra Wooten, Hannah Cooper, Shyanne Jasper and Shannon Allen contributed to this report.