Barack Obama took center stage Tuesday night as the newly re-elected president of the United States, beating opponent Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 100 electoral votes, despite a four-year preface of a weak economy.
Along with the rest of the country, approximately 200 to 250 KC students gathered for their own election watch party planned by government instructor Rick Moser.
“Several government instructors and I were discussing the upcoming election and I asked who was holding the election watch party. When we realized there was not one planned, we decided that we should sponsor it,” Moser said. “We felt that it was important that we give our students the opportunity to witness the actual election and help them to understand the whole process, not just the voting aspect of the election.”
This was the second time Moser had been involved in planning an election party for college students. The first was while he was a student during the last presidential election.
“I was a student senator at Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2008. We wanted to hold an election watch party since that was the first time an african-american candidate was on the ballot,” Moser said. “Strangely, we had a higher turnout here in Kilgore this election than at the 2008 event at Texas A&M-Commerce. I was really impressed with the number of students that participated. Not only did we have Kilgore College students, but there were also a number of dual-credit high school students as well.”
Obama’s win over Romney came as a blow to some students, while a victory to others.
“I was angry and a little shocked. I wasn’t expecting it. It was a close one,” said Romney supporter, Sammie Jo Oller, Gilmer sophomore. “We wouldn’t be in as much debt because of how he (Romney) handles money. He would’ve created more jobs, not taken them away. Romney would’ve gotten the welfare people off their butts and actually got them to go find a job.”
As Obama prepares for a second term in the White House, students look to how this new presidency will affect their future for the next four years.
“I voted for him (Obama) more or less because it had to do with foreign policy for me and ending the war in Iraq. I thought that was huge deal. I went there four times and every time, I was like ‘For what? For what? For what?’ and it never made any sense to me,” said Erik Cunningham, Longview sophomore and nine-year Marine veteran. “When Obama would say things like he’d rather use diplomatic resources rather than our military, that’s a huge thing to me because one, I respect the fact that he’s trying to cut down on the military. We spend more than we ever need to. We’re so far in debt right now because all the money for the Iraq war was borrowed from China so it’s not like this is all brand new. There have been four years. There has been progress but it’s a slow progress.”
Others don’t feel that progress is in the works or will be anytime soon under Obama’s leadership.
“I feel like we’re going to get worse and we might become a Communist nation and lose most of our allies because of it. We’re going downhill. That’s where we’re headed. Honestly, it’s in God’s hands now,” Oller said. “He (Obama) wants to get rid of all the oil field jobs. We need those jobs, especially around here. My boyfriend works in the oil field and not many people can do that job. Who else is going to pump the oil? Not everyone is built for college. This is all he has. His brother and stepdad and my brother are in the oil field. What is he trying to do to us? We’re trying to make a living too.”
With rampant social media and constant updates from news networks, it may have been difficult for many students to look past the projections and predications of the media to assess how the candidates were actually doing.
“It’s weird because you’d think that with the 24 hour media and social media with Twitter and Facebook that our generation would be so much more informed but I think that’s half the problem,” Cunningham said. “There’s so much of an overflow of information it makes people care less. So many people have tuned it out because they’re so overwhelmed with it.”
With such a close presidential race, most of the country is now split in their reactions to the outcome. It was predicted to be one of the closest races in seven decades. At the beginning of election night, Romney seemed to have a slight but definite lead over Obama but was eventually overturned with the electoral vote of Ohio which put Obama over the needed 270 votes.
“He’s (Obama) been in office and learned what to do,” said Obama supporter Heather Falcon, Kilgore sophomore. “If someone came into office now they’d have to learn everything new. It’s like a cycle. He’s been there for four years. He knows what to do now.”