Student voters weigh in after Election Day

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After a historic Election Day that resulted in a Donald Trump presidential victory, The Daily Texan followed up with the 12 students profiled for a voter series that ran between Oct. 24 and Nov. 8. 

While most students who responded for comment said they were surprised by Tuesday’s results, Eric Davis ­— the only student profiled who voted for Trump ­— predicted earlier in October that the New York billionaire was going to be the next president of the United States. 

Once Davis’ prediction became a reality, he said he believed a President Trump would only unify the nation.

“He will reach with every side of the political sphere to unify our country,” Davis said. “Day in and day out, I know he will lead in a bipartisan manner.”

On the other hand, students who backed Hillary Clinton, the Democrat favored to win the White House, said they were surprised it was Trump who had secured the highest office in the land.

“Last night was a gut shot,” said Jacob Peña, a second-generation Mexican-American who voted for Clinton. “It was frustrating, but it doesn’t mean I am going to quit fighting for what I believe in.”

Those who voted Trump into office weren’t representative of his peers and the advancements they were working toward, Peña said.

Joshua Ellis cast his ballot for Clinton and said he didn’t see Tuesday night as a victory or defeat for either of the two major political parties.

“All I can do now is hope that [Trump’s] rhetoric from the election will soften as his presidency becomes a reality,” Ellis said. “God bless America in this trying time. All I can do now is hope.”

Marielisa Saggese, an international student from Venezuela, said Tuesday night’s results reminded her of the 1998 elections in her home country. 

“I’m still shocked and heartbroken,” Saggese said. “I ran away from the populism and divisive speech of Venezuelan socialism two years ago, and now to see this similar pattern here scares me as an immigrant.”

While he voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson, Brian Bensimon said he originally anticipated a Clinton victory, but added he knew a “Brexit-style” victory for Trump was also possible.  

“Part of what makes the United States great is that the president is not a king,” Bensimon said. “In the event that President-elect Trump oversteps his bounds, it’s likely that you will see a coalition of progressives and constitutional conservatives eager to check his power.”

Mannan Ali, a Muslim-American student, voted for Clinton because he said he feared the anti-Muslim sentiment he felt Trump’s campaign was inspiring. Ali said he wasn’t happy about Trump’s victory.

“There’s not much anyone can do,” Ali said. “I have to believe in the check and balances of this country that nothing bad will take place.”

Having just become a U.S. citizen in late August, Mathew Piotrowicz early voted for Clinton and said he could understand some people’s frustration with the results the election yielded. 

“I think we need to have faith in the American people to not let this divide us,” Piotrowicz said. “Additionally, I don’t think this election is as disastrous as some people are making it out to be.”

Two students profiled by the Texan, Zachary Long and Shannon Doyle, declined to comment for this story. Allison Peregory, Cristian Cortes and Daniel Hamilton didn’t respond to a request for comment at the time this story went to press.

Sunny Kim, Autumn Sanders and Carlynn Hickenbotham contributed to this report.