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After a seemingly long wait, students celebrate Biden victory

November 13, 2020

Kate Lusignan
honk 4 biden Ellery Harkness '21 and Brooke Vahos '21 celebrate a Biden victory on Maine Street on Saturday.

Among honks and cheers temporarily heard on Maine Street, Brooke Vahos ’21, who is living off campus, stood at the edge of the Brunswick Mall with a “Honk for Biden” sign in celebration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory on Saturday afternoon.

“It was nice [to hear] the sound of support for everybody in town and to feel like there’s something to rally behind again,” Vahos said in a phone interview with the Orient. “It felt really good.”

Vahos was not the only member of the Bowdoin community who celebrated Biden’s victory. According to a survey conducted by the Orient, 90 percent of Bowdoin students supported Joe Biden. And, after waiting as states tallied absentee ballots days after Election Day, many students were relieved to finally have a conclusive result.

Lester Jackson ’21 spent the days following the election refreshing news outlets for updated counts from Savannah, Georgia, his hometown. Georgia was one of the crucial and very close swing states that went blue late Friday evening after absentee ballots were counted.

“The anticipation was killing me,” Jackson said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.  “Every time the ballots came in, [President Donald J. Trump’s] lead started shrinking. I was getting excited, but I was nervous for three days.”

Although Georgia has not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton’s first presidential bid in 1992, Jackson was not surprised that the state swung blue.

“I knew that Georgia is more like a purple state,” Jackson said. “The difference is people actually getting out to vote. And it was the effort by people like Stacey Abrams, and a lot of leaders in Georgia, actually mobilizing the voters. It wasn’t that most of the people in Georgia are conservative, it was that not a lot of people went out and actually voted.”

Gerard Goucher ’21, who is from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, also awaited vote counts from his home state, another crucial swing state. Pennsylvania handed its 20 electoral votes to the Biden campaign on Saturday morning, securing his victory.

“Watching accounts from Philadelphia [and] Montgomery County was cool because my vote was [part] of the absentee ballots,” Goucher said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

When Goucher heard about Biden’s win on Saturday morning, he had just started a midterm, but he found it difficult to concentrate and instead spent the day celebrating in Portland.

“I probably did the worst job I’ve done on a test at Bowdoin,” Goucher said. “I wasn’t concerned about my health care rights going away, I wasn’t concerned about my marital rights going away anymore.”

Goucher was happy with a Biden win and excited that his running mate, Kamala Harris, was elected to be the first woman, Black and South Asian Vice President, but he hopes that the Biden administration will advocate for progressive policies.

“My primary concern now is that they’re going to try to go to the center, or even lean further to the right,” Goucher said. “They touched on addressing systemic racism in the speeches. But now I’m like, ‘how are you going to actually do that?’”

By Friday, Talia Mirel ’24, who is living on campus, had resigned herself to a lengthy wait for official results, as she knew it would take time for states to count all of the absentee and mail-in ballots. However, like Goucher and Jackson, she couldn’t stop herself from constantly refreshing news outlets. So when she heard of Biden’s win early Saturday morning, she, like many students on campus, celebrated on the Main Quad.

“The atmosphere was really positive. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood,” she said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Mirel hopes that Biden’s administration will prioritize the climate crisis and follow through on the ambitious ideas outlined in his campaign platform.

“[Biden] does have a really strong climate action plan, but at the same time, he and Harris were trying to distance themselves from the Green New Deal and said that they are not going to try to ban fracking,” Mirel said. “And I hope they will move in those directions.”

Kate Lusignan
party on Maine Street: A "Honk for Biden" sign hangs in front of Howell House on Saturday.

Ana Lozada-Smith ’21, a proctor for Howell House, which is currently a first-year residence hall, hung a “Honk for Biden” sign on a telephone pole in front of the house.

“We started jumping in the house, and then we just decided to come outside and enjoy the day. And then we made some signs,” Lozada-Smith said.

However, Lozada-Smith mentioned that, while most cars and pedestrians engaged positively, they did receive some negative responses.

“Most people have been honking, some people haven’t said anything or some people glared at us and people spit on the signs, and people flipped us off,” she said.

Security did respond to an incident where an individual, not believed to be associated with the College, spat on the Biden sign outside of Howell and engaged in a verbal altercation with a student.

According to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols, the College is working to identify the individual. Nichols also said that was the only reported incident related to the election.

In the days leading up to and following the election, the Office of Safety and Security increased surveillance and security presence at entry points to the College.

“We were just prepared for anybody that might come into campus, either to celebrate or espouse a political point of view, perhaps,” Nichols said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Although Trump has not yet conceded to Biden, all major news sources and many foreign leaders have acknowledged Biden’s win. Michael Franz, professor of government and a member of ABC’s election Decision Desk Team, believes Trump is foolish to continue holding onto hope.

“I think it’s only a matter of a couple of days or, you know, a week or so before essentially this whole thing is done,” Franz said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “Trump is holding on hope that he gets a sort of miracle victory in a court case, perhaps some momentum in some close states to maybe overturn the popular vote in the state legislature. None of that’s going to work.”

Julia Jennings contributed to this report. 


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