Presidential close call leaves U students confused, no closure

by Benjamin Sandell

Shannon Morrissey, a senior English major, stayed up until 1 a.m. Tuesday night anticipating that a president would be elected.
She was wrong — as were other Americans who stayed up glued to their television sets. The race was simply too close to call.
Pundits bantered back and forth on the networks until 5 a.m., finally conceding that the race wouldn’t be decided for some time.
“It’s aggravating not knowing,” Morrissey said.
Many other students described the presidential horse race as bewildering and exciting.
The television networks flip-flopped throughout the evening on the contest between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush in Florida, first declaring Gore the winner around 7 p.m.
Later, some networks recanted, calling the Florida race too close to make a solid prediction.
At about 1:25 a.m., the major television networks gave Florida to Bush.
But by 3 a.m. it became clear that Bush and Gore were neck-and-neck in the state. At one point, the television stations reported that Bush led Gore by a slim 200 votes.
The state then mandated a recount.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Abbey Wolfman, a speech communications senior. “Our votes are actually counting.”
John Thurston, a sophomore business major, said he hoped Gore would come out ahead in the final tally, arguing that Bush would be an incompetent leader.
Although most students questioned supporting Gore, some students said they stood behind a Bush presidency.
Crista Barrie, a third-year law student, said she would feel relief if Bush won. She added, however, that it was important for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader to get 5 percent of the vote.
Nader failed to achieve the 5 percent crucial for federal funding in the next election. Candidates who achieve at least that percentage of the popular vote are guaranteed $12 million in federal grants for a campaign.
Benny Moreno, a junior English major, said he was upset that Nader didn’t achieve 5 percent of the vote.
“It would have given me another option in the next election,” he said. Moreno added that he didn’t think Nader took any votes away from Gore.
Many students said that Nader didn’t affect Gore’s chances.
Amber Clausen, a Gore supporter and a pre-med freshman, had a different opinion. She said that Nader “definitely took away from Gore,” especially with the younger voters.
Most analysts are predicting that Bush will prevail in one of the closest presidential races in American history while students acknowledge that the election is bound to cause some to question the process.
“If Bush wins, there will be a lot of controversy,” said sophomore Erik Jordheim.
Many students said the two major candidates are similar, adding that they feel it doesn’t matter who gets the presidency.
“I don’t think that the American people think it makes much of a difference,” said freshman Matt Cady, who had planned to vote for Nader but decided on Gore.
Moreno said that the situation is confusing.
“I was expecting to open the paper and see who the president was — you expect to have closure,” he said.

Benjamin Sandell welcomes comments at [email protected]