As the Associated Press and various American cable news networks called the results of the presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday — after the country was left in limbo for four days — Evan Roberts ’23 said that streets in her Colorado town were filled with neighbors cheering, ringing bells and banging pots and pans for hours.
Similar celebratory scenes unfolded across the country as Yale students reacted — some with optimism, others with relief tempered with fatigue and doubt — to the results of a historic election year.
“I think the [Biden/Harris] ticket’s win indicates that we have been anxiously waiting to have serious, bold and prepared leaders govern our country over the past four years,” Ananya Kachru ’22 wrote to the News. “The ticket’s historic win, in terms of popular vote count and margin, is notable, too.”
That the announcement stretched late into the week after ballots took multiple days to be counted — and have yet to be certified in full — marked just one of the many ways this race registered differently with voters. Eight students interviewed by the News shared their reactions to the presidential election.
For many, last Tuesday’s race felt particularly personal.
“Saying the words ‘Madam Vice President Kamala Devi Harris’ still gives me chills,” Kachru wrote to the News. “After the 2016 Election, I didn’t anticipate watching a South Asian American and Black woman become Vice President of the United States within four years. This moment means a lot to me, and my family, and I think I’m yet to even fully process it.”
Kachru and her family moved to the United States from Dubai in 2005, and, after 15 years, they finally became U.S. citizens this past summer. This was the first election in which they could vote.
Up until the polls closed, Kachru recalled reaching out to South Asian American voters in Pennsylvania and Nevada together with her parents in their dining room. It was inspiring, she said, to listen to her parents tell voters why this election mattered to them as citizens and first-time voters themselves.
Kachru described feeling grateful to have observed “democracy in action during an immensely critical time,” and danced with her family in celebration the moment the election was called.
Nicholas Kidd ’24, the Communications Director of Yale for Biden, said that members of the student group anxiously refreshed their screens as the mail-in ballots were being counted across several battleground states.
“We have a lot of faith in a Biden-Harris administration and what they can accomplish,” Kidd said. “They will get our country back on the right path and help us move forward, creating long-lasting, effective change through healthcare, education and combating climate change.”
Despite the victory for the presidency, Kidd expressed disappointment that Democrats lost seats in the House and did not flip more seats in the Senate. But Kidd noted that the Senate races are not over yet. Yale for Biden will spend the next few months supporting the campaigns of both Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Democrats running in Georgia’s two Senate run-off races that will take place in January.
“What a time to be in Georgia,” Jyot Batra ’21, who lives in Atlanta, said. “You could feel the change coming. It’s a historic moment here.”
Although electoral vote counts currently show Biden’s lead to be decisive, Robby Hill ’24 said that high voter turnout was “driven by antagonism toward the Trump administration but not fueled by any deep passion in the future of the Democratic party.”
In many voting districts, Hill added, ballots were “blue at the top, red on the bottom” — like when Maine voters reelected incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins over Democratic challenger Sara Gideon while also supporting Biden.
For Kennedy Bennett ’22, the fact that several projected Democratic victories for the Senate and congressional races ended in defeat signaled a need for the party to rethink its political strategy.
“The Democratic Party continues to depend on marginalized communities for turnout, but does not center progressive policies that would benefit their voter base,” she said.
Kate Kushner ’21, who served as a North Carolina state captain for Yale Votes, said that while she doesn’t necessarily envision a career in grassroots organizing for herself, the election has led her to think more about “how to make [her] work and personal life, going forward, invested in progressive and anti-racist change.” Many of the students interviewed by the News expressed similar sentiments regarding the work that still needs to be done.
Elections Coordinator for the Yale College Democrats Armin Thomas ’21 expressed hope and relief at the ultimate election results, commenting that he was finally “able to breathe again.”
However, Thomas also noted how the Biden win would not have been possible without the hard work of all of the organizers and election workers.
“This victory would not have been possible without all of the organizers and campaign staffers who put their lives on hold to fight for the soul of this nation,” Thomas wrote to the News. “Special gratitude is also owed to our election officials and poll workers who turned the wheels of democracy and are still making sure that every vote is counted.”
While Election Day was Nov. 3, Biden was officially projected to be President-elect by several major news outlets on Nov. 7.
Julia Bialek | firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Tian | email@example.com