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UW-River Falls campus reacts to Election Day results

November 9, 2016

After one of the most interesting election seasons in history, the United States has its next president in Donald Trump, and the UW-River Falls campus is divided.

In addition, members of the Republican party have been named to many other seats in the state of Wisconsin. Republican Shannon Zimmerman took State Assembly District 30, Sean Duffy kept the 7th District of Congress and Sheila Harsdorf retained her position as the state senator for District 10.

Some students, along with the rest of the country, are confused as to how Trump’s win even happened. UWRF student Bailey Pierskalla said that she shares this confusion.

“In the beginning, he started running, and it was almost like a joke,” Pierskalla said. “And then he got the nomination, and it was like, ‘Oh he’s not going to win, it’s OK,’ and then he actually won so it’s a very big shock.”

Political Science Chair Neil Kraus said that voter turnout may be one part of it. According to the Associated Press Wednesday morning, the turnout of the voting age population in Wisconsin in particular reached its lowest point since 1996, with just 66 percent.

“That clearly hurt the Democrats, there’s no question about that, because Hillary Clinton got a couple hundred thousand fewer votes than Obama did in 2012, and Trump only got a few thousand more than Romney did,” Kraus said. “Even if she could have gotten 150,000 less [than Obama did in 2012], then she could have won.”

As far as what the results will mean, it is still hard to tell. UWRF student Lucas Schmidt said that a lack of specifics during the campaigning season has left it hard to predict what a Trump presidency will mean.

“During the debates and stuff, they didn’t really talk about any of the issues, so it’s really hard to get what Trump is going to do, because they were only insulting each other. No policies were ever said, not really, and they didn’t answer any questions.”

Kraus said that the impact on the political landscape will depend on what Trump decides to push after he is inaugurated in January.

“His appeal was not based on specifics,” Kraus said. “It was based on kind of a general sentiment.”

Regardless of what Trump decides to focus on, emotions are running high. Some students are not taking Trump’s win as a positive development.

“I feel very heavy today, and a little fearful, I guess. I’ve talked to a few people and everyone’s kind of feeling on edge,” Pierskalla said. “Either way, there was going to be a lot of emotion.”

Other UWRF students are not upset about the outcome. Sierra Huser is one of them.

“I’m kind of happy, honestly. I’m feeling ready for some change,” Huser said. “I mean, obviously, there’s good and bad. I wasn’t too fond of either of them, but for me, it kind of came down to the lesser of two evils.”

That sentiment of the lesser of two evils is one that has been echoed across campus and elsewhere. Kayla Donahue, another UWRF student, said that she saw no good outcome for this Election Day.

“At the same time, do you want a racist, fascist, sexist monster, or do you want an antifeminist, almost-criminal? There is no winning in this situation.”

Ultimately, the tone of the next four years will not be seen until January, when Trump officially takes office.

“It’s too early to tell. I’m curious to find out what he does first,” Donahue said.