Election Day inspires excitement, energy

PAC, STObama, St. Olaf Votes No get out the vote

It’s official: Barack Obama will be a two-term president. At 10:18 p.m. Central Standard Time, the Pause exploded in cheers as CNN projected Barack Obama as the winner of the 2012 presidential election.

Oles’ commitment to political activism has perhaps never been as evident as it was this Tuesday when students from various political organizations inspired a voting frenzy among students from all corners of campus. Buntrock Commons, the social center of campus, was transformed into a official polling place, and students from St. Olaf Votes No cheered on voters as they exited the building. Members of STObama and St. Olaf Votes No door-knocked until 8 p.m., making sure every member of the St. Olaf community had come out to vote. The Political Awareness Committee PAC hosted a results viewing party in the Pause, lasting past 1 a.m., where Oles gathered to learn the election day results.

Many Oles intended to pull all-nighters waiting to find out who America’s next president would be, but it ended up being a much shorter night than most of them expected.

While the popular vote was quite close, with President Obama taking 50 percent of the vote to Romney’s 48, the electoral college was hardly a nail-biter. President Obama won nearly every swing state, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Iowa. The only notable exception was North Carolina, where Romney carried an extra 15 electoral votes, winning the state by less than 2 percentage points.

The race in Florida remained too close to call at press time, though Obama led Romney by a slight margin. Florida has the most electoral votes of any of the swing states, though this time unlike the infamous election of 2000 where Americans had to wait weeks for Florida to determine its winner, its result won’t affect the fate of the nation.

Of course, the results of the presidential race were not the only anxiously-awaited results this Tuesday. In two very close races, those who voted “no” prevailed on both the Minnesota marriage amendment and the voter ID amendment. Slightly more than 51 percent of Minnesotans voted against the marriage amendment, while 52 percent voted against the voter ID amendment. Blank ballots for both amendments were counted as noes, which helped to crush both amendments. Rice County voted against both amendments, perhaps due in part to the liberal presence on the St. Olaf and Carleton campuses.

In a landslide, United States Sen. Amy Klobuchar was re-elected for a second term, beating out conservative challenger Kurt Bills.

In Minnesota’s second congressional district, which includes Northfield, Republican incumbent John Kline defeated challenger Mike Obermueller, who paid a visit to campus on Tuesday afternoon along with David Bly, who won a seat in the State House this year after being unseated in the 2010 elections by a mere 37 votes. Kevin Dahle, a Northfield resident who ran for State Senate, narrowly defeated Republican challenger Mike Dudley by just 82 votes. A recount is underway, but it seems likely that Dahle will head back to St. Paul next year.

Oles turned out in overwhelming liberal support, with 80 percent of the campus voting for Obama. Similar numbers prevailed with both amendments, gaining nearly universal disapproval among students.

Minnesota was not the only state with constitutional amendments on the ballot. Maine, Washington and Maryland all voted to legalize same-sex marriage, and Colorado and Washington voted in favor of legalizing and taxing marijuana.

Democrats expanded their control of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, occupying 53 Senate seats 55 counting two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats, but failed to regain majority in the House, where Republicans control 233 of the 435 seats.

The excitement and anticipation of election day is now over, and regardless of whether or not students are pleased by the outcomes, they will all appreciate the absence of slanderous political TV spots and campaign videos every time they turn on a football game or try to listen to a song on YouTube. Members of St. Olaf political organizations can rest assured knowing that they helped raise political awareness and engage students in their civic duties during this groundbreaking election.

The results of election day 2012 will undoubtedly create some divides between excitement, disappointment and ambivalence around our campus and communities throughout the country.

Perhaps no one said it better than our president himself during his victory speech: Regardless of how you voted this time around, we should enter this new political era with optimism towards the dissolution of polarized bipartisanship.

“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests,” Obama said. “We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.”

Surely after a few days off, politically gung-ho Oles will be back at it, promoting their various causes, set to make this nation and this world a better place.


+ posts