Going into Election Day, the presidential race was former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s to lose. At the beginning of the day, it was predicted that Clinton had an 80 percent chance of winning the presidency, according to the New York Times. Pollsters and the media solidly had her winning the day, sending Donald Trump and his campaign of hate away with its tail between its legs. However, by 9 p.m., her likelihood of winning plummeted to 20 percent.
Tuesday will forever be remembered as a historical event when Trump pulled off one of the most stunning political upsets in American history. As I sat glued to the television, watching the incoming election results, I was squarely in denial when Trump’s electoral college count continued to stack up, getting closer to the winning 270.
How could this happen? How was everyone so wrong?
The difference between the campaigns of Clinton and Trump is stark. While Trump’s supporters were vocal and inspired by their candidate’s message, many Clinton supporters did not have this same passion for their own nominee.
Trump’s promise to return America to its former glory put a fire in the belly of conservatives across the nation. While his message was often one of xenophobia and hate, it resonated with many who are tired of today’s status quo of political correctness. This groundswell of support and desire for change felt among Trump supporters is similar to that felt by Barack Obama’s supporters in 2008, when he became the first African-American president.
While Trump was able to harness an intense passion within his supporters, Clinton was only really able to advertise herself as the sane Trump alternative. She was not able to successfully establish a connection with voters, even for those within her own party. Her journey to the general election was one of tireless obstacles; her email scandal, her hard-fought win over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primaries and her muddy final battle against Trump. While she is indisputably the more qualified and experienced nominee, she does not have the same charisma that Trump does. Unfortunately, practicality did not win in the 2016 election.
For those of us who are still in a state of shock over last night’s results, the next four years will be a trying time. It is scary to think of the step back we as a nation could take with a president who is openly against many forms of social progression. It is scary to think that we live in a country where a message of blatant misogyny, racism and more could win. What we all thought was a sick joke two years ago is now becoming a reality.
But we must not let our sadness and fear get the better of us. It is easy to fall into the trap of hate, especially when the road our country is looking toward is one so starkly against what we believe is right. Now is the time to put our noses to the grindstone, working across the aisle to find a middle ground.
Samantha is a junior majoring in journalism and communication arts. What do you think of Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.