Bellingham community reacts to presidential election
Community members throughout Whatcom County gathered to watch election results Tuesday, Nov. 8. Here are reactions from viewing parties in Bellingham as they watched the process of President-elect Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election:
By Jessie Mulrine
Just hours before 8 p.m., students appeared at voting boxes and turned in ballots.
The ASWWU Representation and Engagement Programs Office hosted a voting party inside the Viking Union to livestream the election and be a resource to students.
Sophomore Henry Pollet is involved with Washington Votes and was one of the non-partisan poll watchers at the event.
“They have already emptied the permanent drop box we have in front of the bookstore at least two or three times, and it has been full every time."
Sophomore Henry Pollet
Pollet hoped to get 75 percent turnout of Western students. Four years ago, Western had 80 percent voter registration of students with only 65 percent voter turnout at Western, Pollet said.
Western broke its record in voter registrations this year by almost 500 registrants, Pollet said.
“They have already emptied the permanent drop box we have in front of the bookstore at least two or three times, and it has been full every time,” Pollet said.
Junior Eduardo Carrillo volunteers with Western Votes and helped people by printing out ballots and refreshing the CNN election tracker every few minutes, he said.
“Personally, I hope Hillary Clinton wins the election and hopefully the Senate goes to the Democrats as well, but some of the Senate races haven’t been going as tight as they should have been, such as Indiana,” Carrillo said.
At 8 p.m., there were cheers from the few audience members watching as the CNN livestream announces Clinton’s win of California with 55 electoral votes.
The election remained tight around 10 p.m. as a couple of late-night stragglers trickled into the room to catch the stream of projected wins before the event ended.
THE WILD BUFFALO
By Moira Landvatter
President Donald Trump.
Three words that astounded the audience who anxiously gathered at the Wild Buffalo.
Trump took 279 electoral votes, while Clinton took 228.
In lieu of the historical election, the Wild Buffalo hosted an election party featuring pizza and cheap election-themed drinks with names such as The Bad Hombre and The Nasty Woman.
A majority of the audience expressed a preference for Clinton.
Graduate student Joel Dugan was no exception.
“I voted for [Clinton],” Dugan said. “I think Trump is insane. Essentially, that’s what it boils down to.”
The 2016 presidential election is one that has sparked interest internationally as well. Canadians Ashley Floris and Heather McKerchar attended the event so they could watch the election.
“We were just down here for the day in Bellingham,” McKerchar said. “We figured we may as well stick around for a drink. When you’re in America for the election, you might as well.”
Both McKerchar and Floris expressed a preference for Clinton.
“I feel really indifferent for America right now, because it’s the lesser of two evils. If I had to choose, it would be [Clinton], from a feminist point of view, because she’s advocating for women’s rights,” McKerchar said. “If Trump was [the Canadian prime minister] it would be terrifying. We get to go home at the end of the day.”
“The results are shocking me because I feel like we were in this bubble. We’re super liberal here in Bellingham."
Senior Haley Duran
Floris said she supported Clinton because she isn’t Trump.
At the end of the night, many Clinton supporters were stone-faced and some were even crying.
Senior Haley Duran was a Clinton supporter surprised by Trump’s win.
“The results are shocking me because I feel like we were in this bubble,” Duran said. “We’re super liberal here in Bellingham... but the whole eastern side of the U.S. is for Trump, and I had no idea.”
Western alumnus Joe Shepard also expressed his surprise.
“Goodbye to the 32-plus million Americans that got healthcare through Obamacare. Goodbye to environment protection. Goodbye to women's equality. Goodbye to our international ties with Europe and NATO. It’s just depressing,” Shepard said.
WHATCOM COUNTY REPUBLICANS
By Jack Carballo
As the sun set, about 20 Whatcom County Republicans filled the American Legion for a live broadcast of the 2016 presidential election.
Red, white and blue dressed the room vibrantly, while patrons enjoyed beverages and small talk as poll results unraveled.
Local real estate agent Brad Howard attended the event.
“I’m very optimistic,” Howard said. “I think we’re going to have a landslide and take states that nobody expected us to take. I think Washington and California are in play.”
Howard works in media relations for the Whatcom County Trump campaign and runs the Washington For Trump Twitter account.
At CNN race alert checkpoints, cheers and applause erupted as Trump’s vote percentage consistently exceeded Clinton's.
Mark Nelson, chairman of the Whatcom For Trump campaign, made incremental updates when noteworthy poll statistics were made available.
One of those was when the New York Times predicted Trump’s victory by approximately 200 electoral votes. This happened around 6:00 p.m., at which point about 20 more supporters had arrived, filling the air with echoing shouts and exclamations.
“[We need] your passion, brains, brawn, thoughts and ideas, we need all of that for the next election and the one after that. We need all of what you bring to the table.”
Light scoffs were present each time CNN presented Clinton exceeding Trump in the polls. This happened especifically with Florida, whose poll count fluctuated for hours.
Boos ensued when CNN announced Clinton had taken Colorado, balancing out the passion in their triumphant victory cries for Trump.
As night fell, the venue and campaign promoters began taking down decorations, while leaving CNN’s poll count on in the background.
Most attendees left around 8 p.m. due to the anticipation of an early victory, mixed with feelings of pride and relief.
Sonje Hawes-Renkert, a pharmacy assistant, says that the U.S. needs younger generations of voters to take initiative in coming elections.
“[We need] your passion, brains, brawn, thoughts and ideas, we need all of that for the next election and the one after that,” Hawes-Renkert said. “We need all of what you bring to the table.”
Tying the subject to institutional education, one attendant commented on the relationship between political views and academia.
Jon-Michael Emery, supervisor at the Whatcom Republican Office, encourages the community to vote, regardless of their education level.
“You shouldn’t be afraid to vote just because you aren’t as educated as somebody else,” Emery said. “Your experiences and education should equally determine how you involve yourself, but any education level should be involved in politics.”
Doors to the American Legion closed around 9:30 p.m.
WHATCOM COUNTY DEMOCRATS
By Jonathan Pendleton
A range of emotions poured over the crowd at Boundary Bay Brewery as the Bellingham community watched the live feed of election results.
Whatcom County Democrats coordinated with EMS Saves Lives to hold an election viewing event.
The beginning of the night was hopeful but anxious for the party, with Clinton trailing slightly. Yet, it was too soon to jump to any conclusions. The race was slow and steady for both parties.
Eyes were glued to the screen all night.
Western alumnus Lindsay Shepard attended the event.
“I’m nervous but cautiously optimistic,” Shepard said. “I really believe [Clinton] has some amazing things to bring to the table. She has worked her entire life and career for this moment.”
Shepard said if Clinton is victorious, women growing up in the U.S. would have a different idea of what politics look like.
States won by Democrats were followed by audience cheers and applause, while updates of Republican state wins were met with silence and scoffs.
“I don’t really know what a Trump presidency would look like and I don’t want to find out.”
Western alumnus Lindsay Shepard
West Coast results came in after 8 p.m. Washington flashed between red and blue multiple times. States such as Nevada, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Washington came out for the Democratic Party’s favor.
It still was not enough to bridge the gap between the two candidates.
“I’m trying not to think about the alternative,” Shepard said. “I don’t really know what a Trump presidency would look like and I don’t want to find out.”
As the results neared their end, the event coordinator decided to call it early as the electoral vote count read Clinton - 211, Trump - 240 with Trump in the lead for most of the remaining swing states.
Catherine Chambers, chair of the Whatcom County Democrats, said that the presidential election results had been “pretty sad from the very beginning.”
Chambers said that she knew much of the midwest and eastern states wouldn’t be good, but didn’t think the Democrats would end up in this position. She said this is “way worse” than Bush’s presidency.
Attendee Michael Dennis stayed hopeful.
“I just don’t want people to steer away from being involved politics or feel like their work didn’t matter because it did matter,” Dennis said. “This is not just one election, this is several elections. Two years from now, those elections will be important. Four years from now, those elections will be important.”
The projector was turned off around 9:45 p.m. A lot of the crowd left angry, confused, unsure and unsafe.
“Our social programs now are all in jeopardy,” Chambers said. “We have to continue to work. A lot of us have been working on these issues for 45 years, and it’s tiresome after a while.”
PICKFORD FILM CENTER
By Bryn Yasui
The atmosphere was stiff with tension as Bellingham citizens gathered at Pickford Theatre to watch the election results. For some students, the election struck a deeper, more personal chord.
Senior Julia Bryson arrived at the Pickford Theatre with her friends, smiling and purchasing food. Yet, Bryson was nervous about the outcome of the election.
Election results steadily flowed in through multiple news outlets, with Trump winning states in the Midwest by slim percentages.
Bryson strongly wanted Clinton to win the election, despite her flaws.
“Trump is the worst possible option, and honestly, I think Hillary Clinton is qualified to do the job and she will do it well, Bryson said. “She’s not an ideal person, but she’s the best option we have right now.”
Senior Katy Sharp, a Pickford Theatre intern, held high hopes for a Hillary victory at the start of the night.
“It’s a close race, and people are saying it’s the lesser of two evils, but she does have a lot of good things to her name,” Sharp said. “With Hillary, It will be another four years of probably gridlock, but at least there’s a chance of positive change.”
Sharp was in shock at the number of electoral votes coming in for Trump.
“[I’m] taking a voice for the kids I’m going to be working with who don’t have a voice to vote with yet.”
Senior Morgan Burr
“If Trump wins, the Affordable Care Act will be gone, reproductive rights will really be up in the air, which is a big dea,” Sharp said. “One of Pence’s platforms is stripping LGBT rights which will be horrifying if that happens. A lot of the social change and growth that we’ve made over the last eight years will be gone.”
For senior Morgan Burr, the election had a significant effect on her.
“We’re pretty upset right now. Especially from a teacher’s perspective, knowing that we are part of this federal thing that has a lot of control over what we do as educators, and knowing the effects it’s going to have on me going into the field,” Burr said.
Burr, who is a special education major, voted for reasons beyond her own self interest.
“[I’m] taking a voice for the kids I’m going to be working with who don’t have a voice to vote with yet,” Burr said.
Burr and her friends came in with much higher hopes that they came out with.
“I thought it was a sure thing tonight coming into this. For the Democratic party, I definitely didn’t think this was going to be something I was going to have to sit here and be upset while I was watching,” Burr said. “We came out to watch it tonight because we were so sure about how it was going to go. The longer we sat here and watched it, the more upset we got.”