Election Night 2020: Minute-by-minute on the tri-campus
Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, November 4, 2020
7 p.m. — President Donald Trump wins Kentucky, and Democrat Joe Biden wins Vermont, the Associated Press reports.
7:10 p.m. — Flaherty Hall: As the first polls begin to close, the energy in Flaherty Hall is almost like any other night. Watch parties have not yet begun, and students shuffle out the doors to get dinner in a steady stream.
7:15 p.m. — Duncan Student Center: CNN announces first race call with Trump winning Indiana with 64.5% of votes against Biden’s 32.8%. Some 30 students observe election coverage in the Duncan Student Center main level, with around 15 students watching from the tables in Midfield Commons.
Students characterized this year’s election as “stressful” due to the uncertainty regarding the time in which results will be announced due to a uncharacteristically large number of mail-in ballots.
“I think it’s going to be a really long and interesting night,” junior Megan Lulley said.
Junior Ella Sanger said she expects the country will find out the results in a couple of days, making for a tense election.
“It’s definitely an emotional election for us,” Sanger said.
7:30 p.m. — Trump takes five electoral votes in West Virginia.
7:36 p.m. — Biden wins Virginia and gains 13 electoral votes.
8 p.m — Trump takes Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and Biden wins Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
8:05 p.m. — Le Mans Hall: Saint Mary’s sophomore Sam Swanson was not surprised when Biden took her home state Illinois: “I didn’t expect the results to be any different. I knew my vote would go for the Democrats because we’re such a blue state.”
8:09 p.m. — LaFortune Student Center: LaFortune is uncharacteristically empty as results start to roll in. Students quietly work away on their computers in the main lounge, looking up toward the TVs occasionally and whispering with one another.
Senior Courtney Sauder walks into the building to get food from the Huddle and looks at the results while she takes a break from homework. A group of first-years approach the TV by Smashburger, hands full of snacks, to watch and comment on CNN’s coverage of the election.
8:30 p.m. — Trump wins Arkansas, gaining six electoral votes.
8:30 p.m. — Duncan Student Center: Students remain entrenched in homework, mostly unfazed by the election updates. Some students can be seen regularly switching between detailed essays and election updates. Democrats of Notre Dame speak optimistically on NDTV, anticipating to see more blue on the election day map as the night progresses.
8:54 p.m. — Trump wins Indiana, gaining 11 electoral votes.
9:00 p.m. — Debartolo Hall Room 102: Around 40 people are gather for the ND College Republicans election watch, as three big screens are tuned into Fox News.
“I’m happy,” sophomore Jason Maxwell said of the results in his home state of Oklahoma. But he’s not surprised, he adds — “it’s always red.”
As people trickle in, sophomore Adam Morys, president of the College Republicans, walks around to make sure people are social distancing and to ask attendees to sign a thank-you card for the custodian who is staying in the building.
First-year Joseph Kiely enters the room wearing a blue blazer with white stars, red pants and a “Make America Great Again” hat. He says he bought the outfit for the first presidential debate, which was canceled on campus. But he got to wear it for Halloween and tonight. A handful of others wear red MAGA hats or masks with the U.S. flag printed on them.
9:01 p.m. — Trump wins Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska, and Biden takes New Mexico and New York.
9:04 p.m. — Duncan Student Center: The atmosphere grows a little louder in the Midfield Commons as some more students begin to trickle in. Students multitask between doing homework and checking election updates, switching between the essays on their computer and NDTV’s updates on the big screen.
9:25 p.m. — LaFortune Student Center: Sophomore Oscar Noem, watching results come in on NBC, admits some nervousness about the election.
“I’m kind of anxious, to be honest. It’s a lot closer than I thought it would be,” he says. “It feels almost like watching a thriller.”
Noem, who grew up in South Bend, says he voted in person a few days ago.
“I doubt that they’re going to reach a full decision tonight,” he says, but he’s nonetheless keeping an eye on the news as results trickle in.
9:28 p.m. — Biden wins the District of Columbia, gaining three electoral votes.
9:28 p.m. — Duncan Student Center: The College Democrats’ watch party in the Dahnke Ballroom is crowded, with many students gathering to show support for their party. Their excitement could be heard down the hall. Sophomore Riya Shah said she has enjoyed the night so far and there is a “good energy” in the ballroom.
“Definitely tense, stressed,” Shah said about the important election. “But it’s just nice to share that with other people and not keep it bubbled up.”
“Being together is really important in fostering that sense of connection during these difficult times,” sophomore Grace Franco added.
“I’m going to stay optimistic,” Shah said when asked about how she thinks the election will shake out. “I think we’re looking okay, especially if the Mock Election is any indication.”
Franco voiced similar sentiments. “I think I’m definitely cautiously hopeful,” she said.
9:33 p.m. — LaFortune Student Center: Passing through LaFortune, J.C. Wackowski pauses to check the status of the election on the television in the main lounge.
“No matter what happens when we get out of this, it’s going to be an interesting road ahead,” he comments.
For Wackowski, a sophomore from California, “uncertainty” sums up his feelings about this year’s election. He says that in general, he has found open minds on Notre Dame’s campus.
“I’m just thankful I’m an American,” he says as he adjusts an American flag face mask.
9:37 p.m. — Biden wins Colorado, gaining nine electoral votes.
9:42 p.m. — Debartolo Hall Room 102: At the College Republicans election watch, first-year Abraham Figueroa asks for a picture with Joseph Kiely, who is still sporting his U.S. flag ensemble.
Figueroa says he believes Biden will win the popular vote. But Trump “is still gonna win the electoral college, by a small margin.” Perhaps a smaller margin than in 2016, he adds. Kiely is feeling “a little bit apprehensive,” he says. “I cannot call [the election results] either way.”
9:45 p.m. — Duncan Student Center: NDTV ends their broadcast. Election coverage has yet to be shown on the big screen in the Midfield Commons following their show.
9:56 p.m. — Pasquerilla West Hall: The vator lounges are empty, and instead, some Purple Weasels have turned to decorating their doors for Christmas, trying to ease the rising tensions with holiday cheer instead. The first floor has become an election-free zone, and a couple of students turn to Louie, the resident mini golden doodle, for comfort.
10 p.m. — Trump wins Kansas, gaining six electoral votes.
10 p.m. — Holy Cross Hall: Saint Mary’s sophomore Sarah Staniforth watched the results from her room. After seeing results stall in her home state of Michigan, she said, “I’m hopeful that there will be more mail-in ballots brought in over the next several hours. I was disappointed that Trump won Michigan in 2016 and I am hopeful for Biden’s chances this election.”
10:07 p.m. — LaFortune Student Center: Most of the seats are vacant, and there are only a handful of students seated around the screens. They are illuminated by the glow of their computers as they type away at their assignments and simultaneously glance at the news. A student paces back and forth before the television for several minutes and then proceeds to sit down.
10:13 p.m. — Johnson Family Hall: First-year students gather in a common room to watch as the numbers come in while they do homework and chat.
“I’m frustrated with the results of Florida,” freshman Erin Pfeifer says. “I remember in 2016, my dad and I were really analyzing Florida because we wanted it to go blue. We were just trying to do the math of how Clinton could win Florida, but as more results came in we realized it wasn’t possible.”
10:33 p.m. — Trump wins Missouri, gaining 10 electoral votes.
10:55 p.m. — LaFortune Student Center: Connor Patrick, a sophomore in Dillon Hall, watches the election updates.
“It’s a lot closer right now than I thought it would be,” he says. “I understand it’s still early, especially because so many votes have not been counted yet with the unique nature of this election during a global pandemic. But, nevertheless, it was much closer than I thought it would be.”
10:57 p.m. — Biden wins New Hampshire, gaining four electoral votes.
11 p.m. Coleman Morse — In Coleman Morse’s main lounge, PrismND and the Diversity Council held a space free of any election news and talk until 11 p.m., as the building closed. Essential oils, canvas painting, and hot cocoa were the main distractions, alongside friendly chatter and a large screen showing a video of fish and turtles swimming underwater. Around 60 to 70 people showed up throughout the night, according to junior Matthew Bisner, vice president of PrismND.
11:01 p.m. — Biden wins California, Oregon and Washington State, and Trump wins Idaho.
11:10 p.m. — LaFortune Student Center: NBC plays on both ends of LaFortune Student center main lounge, with very few students in between. Roughly 30 seats are vacant, while six students work on their laptops.
12 a.m. — Le Mans Hall: Sophomore Sam Swanson turns off the election coverage in her room, hopeful that she will find out more later in the day once more votes have been counted.
“I think it’s just important to remember that not all the votes have come in and that it could take longer than expected to hear complete results.”
12:08 a.m. — Biden wins Hawaii and Trump wins Ohio, Montana and Iowa.
12:17 a.m. — Debartolo Hall Room 102: Cheering erupted from the College Republicans’ election watch in Debartolo Hall as Trump secured Iowa.
12:35 a.m. — Trump wins Florida.
12:40 a.m. — Biden makes a statement to a crowd in Delaware. “It ain’t over until every ballot is counted, but we feel good about where we are,” he says, as his wife, Jill Biden, stands by his side clapping.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election,” Biden said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”
1:02 a.m. — Biden wins Minnesota, gaining 10 electoral votes.
1:03 a.m. — Duncan Student Center: Only a few small groups lingered around TV screens to wait for results.
1:05 a.m. — Trump wins Texas, gaining 38 electoral votes.
1:17 a.m. — Debartolo Hall Room 102: A moderate crowd remained for the College Republicans’ election watch. Junior Alesis Juntunen said she thinks a candidate will claim victory at some point Wednesday.
“I think [the election] is pretty well mirroring the election of 2016, but honestly I’m not super surprised by anything that’s happened so far,” Junteunen said.
In contrast, junior David Fleming said, “I’m surprised by how well Trump is doing.”
1:40 a.m. — Annunciata Hall: Saint Mary’s junior Abigail Pinnow contemplates the results of the election, citing her anxiety.
“It’s a pretty stressful situation,” she said. “I’ve been checking election results at least once every hour even though I know that there won’t be final counts tonight.”
Pinnow is grateful to have participated in the election this year, but wishes that the process represented a more diverse ranges of voices.
“I’ve voted in every election since I turned 18 and this is my first presidential election,” Pinnow said. “I’m very thankful I was able to vote this year. I voted absentee by mail early last month. I was fully prepared to drive 12 hours home if I didn’t receive my absentee ballot in time. I do wish, however, that the electoral system was better set up to represent all voices, not just the voices of the already powerful and privileged.”
2:20 a.m. — Trump delivers a statement from the East Room of the White House, prematurely declaring victory. Several states have not yet been called, and Trump says he will go to the Supreme Court to stop counting ballots.
“We want all voting to stop,” Trump says to a cheering crowd. “We don’t want them to find any ballots at four o’clock in the morning, and add them to the list. This is a very sad moment, to me this is a very sad moment, and we will win this. As far as I’m concerned, we already have.”
2:53 a.m. — Biden wins Arizona, gaining 11 electoral votes.
3:07 a.m. — Biden wins Maine, gaining three electoral votes.
News Editor Serena Zacharias and news writers, Adriana Perez, Maria Paul, Maggie Eastland, Maggie Klaers, Gabrielle Penna, Grace Doerfler, Elizabeth Prater, Emily DeFazio and Meghan Fahrney contributed to this report.