The announcement that Barack Obama will serve a second term as U.S. president after beating challenger Mitt Romney warranted a mixed reaction from the University of Richmond community on Tuesday.
“Well, Romney is a garbage person, so I’d say I’m pretty happy,” senior Armon Modirian said. “I would rather nail my hand to a block of wood than be one of his supportive constituents.”
Senior Austin Santoro said: “I’m obviously disappointed now with the outcome. We are in a bad place financially, and in no way, shape or form do I think Obama knows how to handle the fiscal cliff.”
The projected result was announced by various national media outlets around 11:20 p.m. on Tuesday.
Many eyes had been on Virginia as a swing state, which Obama won with 50.57 percent of the vote, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections. Obama won by a wide margin in Richmond City, securing 77 percent of the vote.
The crowd of Richmond students who gathered in The Pier and the Alice Haynes Room for election night had a fairly positive reaction when Obama was declared the winner, said Adrienne Piazza, who organized the viewing party.
“There were cheers, tears and people jumping up and down in their seats,” Piazza said. “It was a rush of excitement for sure.”
There were around 150 people who attended, most of whom were Obama supporters, Piazza said.
“The first couple hours were fairly quiet,” she said. “But once the momentum started to shift and states were being called in clumps for Obama, the energy level started to raise.”
Santoro, a Romney supporter, was with friends at his house off- campus when Obama was declared the victor.
“We were all sitting around having beers and watching Fox News,” Santoro said. “We knew Obama would win, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the night the best we could.”
Senior Jack Allen, Santoro’s roommate, said he was disappointed because Obama had not been making the right economic decisions and that would not change now.
“I think he needs to increase the tax pool, rather than increase rates,” Allen said. “Also, we just can’t afford the entitlements he’s been promoting.”
Social issues should never have played a role in this election where the economic crisis was so important, Allen said.
“I think the Republicans totally shot themselves in the foot by even addressing social issues,” Allen said. “Rather, they should have been driving home economic policy throughout the election.”
For two students, junior Erik Lampmann and senior Alex Sacco, social issues played major roles in their decisions to vote for Obama.
“As a college student, as a queer American and as a member of the middle class, I know that the president understands my experiences,” Lampmann said. “President Obama supports my rights as an LGBTQ American and the rights of other traditionally marginalized groups – women, the undocumented and communities of color.”
Sacco said: “LGBTQ rights play a huge role, even if Romney let states decide on their own what to do, Obama fostered nation-wide efforts by repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”
Sacco voted for the first time this year in Virginia, and knew whom she would be voting for before she saw the debates and campaign ads, she said.
“I really felt my strongest about my decision after talking with my friends,” Sacco said. “My main concern is LGBTQ rights, and they reinforced that for me.”
Two other Richmond students, freshman Ben Acton and junior Kelsey Martin, registered in Virginia this year so that they could vote for the first time, they said.
“I’m from New York, which is always blue,” Acton said. “I realized I could register in Virginia as a student, and my vote would have more importance here as a swing state.”
This is the first year Acton could legally vote and said he had felt as though it was his job as an American to express his opinion.
The debates, political advertising and stump speeches had not had much of an affect on him, Acton said.
“I get a lot of my news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert anyways,” Acton said. “There was just certain coverage that influenced who I was going to vote for.”
Martin had been through a similar process with a registration group on campus, but her ability to vote had been denied, she said.
“The registration people sat me down and walked me through the forms,” Martin said. “We wanted to make sure everything was filled out correctly.”
A few days before Election Day, Martin had received a letter in the mail from the General Registrar and Election Board for Virginia informing her that she had not qualified because she had not identified that she was a citizen on a form, she said.
“We were all shocked that it could have happened,” Martin said. “We took it down to the voting booth, and they just said there was nothing they could do at that point.”
Martin said she still had not understood what had gone wrong and had been disappointed with what had happened.
“I wanted to have my say in this important state, regardless of outcome,” Martin said. “In two years, I’ll be in the so-called ‘real world’, and the president will have a direct effect in shaping the economy that I’ll be participating in. I just wanted to have my say.”
Contact reporter Scott Himelein at firstname.lastname@example.org