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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

‘One big question mark’

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History was made Tuesday night in America, though it didn’t come in the form many expected. 

Hanna Sefa, an Ethiopian immigrant and Democrat, joined fellow party members at the Indiana Convention Center’s 500 Ballroom to watch election results. Clad in an “I Voted” sticker and clutching a blue Hillary/Kaine sign, she stared at the huge screens, watching the election results post. At each Democratic victory, she let out an excited cheer. As the evening went on and the first statewide results were announced, her excitement, though still intact, began to waver. 

“All I want is for Hillary to win. From day one, that’s been my dream … to see a woman president in America,” Sefa said. “I never thought in my wildest dreams we would get here. That’s why. Hillary is going to be a hope for women in the whole world.”

After a long night of flip-flopped predictions and close calls, it became apparent that a Trump victory was on the horizon. After midnight, it was announced that Donald J. Trump would become our nation’s 45th president. He will be the nation’s first-ever president to be elected to office with no prior political experience.

Despite polling reports as late as Tuesday afternoon that reflected a clear win for Clinton, Trump took the race. At press time, results were not in for Michigan, New Hampshire and Minnesota, but Trump had garnered 289 electoral votes to Clinton’s 218. However, the popular vote remained in her favor by a slight margin of 47.7 percent versus Trump’s 47.5 percent. If the popular vote results persist in that direction, she will be the first presidential candidate since Al Gore in 2000 to lose the election despite winning the popular vote. 

Paul Helmke, a professor of practice in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington, said the shock felt across the country is to be expected.

“Yesterday surprised a lot of people. It surprised me. I didn’t think this would be a wave election nationally for Trump and the Republicans,” he said. “Those type of elections you see every now and then, like Reagan in the ’80s and Lyndon Johnson for the Dems in 1964, where the support of the candidate at the top is so strong it sweeps everything else in with that person.”

In addition to taking the presidency, Republicans will also retain their control of the House and Senate. Locally, John Gregg and Evan Bayh, both considered frontrunners in their races for governor and senator, respectively, experienced startling losses as well. 

“Indiana has lately been a ticket-splitting state. We tend to be more Republican, but four years ago, Glenda Ritz got elected to superintendent of public instruction. Eight years ago, Barack Obama carried the state, and during the ’80s, ’90s and aughts, Evan Bayh was able to win,” said Helmke. “A lot of folks figured that Trump would carry the state due to Pence being on the ballot, but the solidness of Bayh’s defeat and Gregg’s defeat and Glenda Ritz being voted out was unexpected. The Trump wave helped cover the Republican ticket in Indiana.”

Elijah Neal, a software engineer from Indianapolis, said the local and national election outcome was a shock to him. “I thought everything was going to be the complete opposite. The governor, senator and president. I thought this would be the year of the Democrat.”

Neal, an African-American Republican, said he doesn’t struggle to reconcile his race with his political affiliation and feels that much of what has been said about Trump in terms of race relations is exaggerated. 

“I worked for one of his organizations for a while, and I think what’s in the media is an exaggeration of who he really is. I saw him as a Type A sort of guy. He’s been surrounded by ‘yes-people’ for so long so some of these things have become part of his personality.”

Helmke said the culturally insensitive nature of Trump’s public statements indeed did very little to deter people looking for a different brand of leadership.

“A lot of people were unhappy about things and wanted a change and didn’t care about Trump’s taxes and comments about women and other issues,” he said. 

Many political pundits and commentators, like CNN’s Van Jones who described the Trump win as a “white-lash” against a Black president, took to the airwaves to voice their disdain for the outcome, a tone much different from the remarks made Wednesday afternoon by Obama and Clinton, who took the defeat as an opportunity to urge citizens to remain unified and hopeful. 

Helmke said despite the more superficial issues surrounding this election, a big concern of his is how Trump will lead, given there has been no clear plan or agenda in play from him throughout this process.

“People know what the Republican stance is, but no one knows where Trump stands. He’s been very ‘spin the dial’ on issues. At one point, he was pro-choice, then he was pro-life. That has been a very good negotiating tool of his in the past,” Helmke said. “He’s talked about making changes to NATO, so our allies will have to wonder, and our enemies don’t know what to expect. If you look at what’s going on with the stock market, Dow Jones futures plummeted precipitously … the business community doesn’t know what to expect, either.

“Where do we stand? It’s a big question mark.” 

Who voted for Donald Trump?

  • 53 percent of men 
  • 42 percent of women 
  • 58 percent of white voters  
  • 8 percent of Black voters 
  • 29 percent of Hispanic voters

Source: BBC

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