The air buzzed with both excitement and nervousness as students gathered at the Rathskeller to watch the results from the 2018 midterm elections. The races were tight across the nation, but were especially close here in Florida, a swing state.
A mixture of cheers and sighs periodically erupted from the crowd as the voting results started to roll in. Many of the major candidates were neck-in-neck the whole time – Rick Scott beat incumbent senator Bill Nelson by only 0.4 percent and Ron DeSantis won the gubernatorial race over Andrew Gillum by just 0.6 percent.
The tension in the room was almost palpable, and caused several students to stress-eat as they watched the election unfold on the TV screens.
“Right now I am very on edge,” said senior Kelly Fitzgerald. “I am really happy with a lot of the results across the country so far, but I am still very anxious. It is nail biting.”
Some chose to watch the election results at the Rat to be surrounded by other passionate students, instead of just waiting to find out the next morning.
“I didn’t have much to do right now and I just really wanted to come and see how the people in Miami, besides myself, were feeling about this election,” said Griffin Alexander, a freshman double majoring in marine affairs and ecosystem science and policy. “It is just cool to come and watch it with a group of people.”
Even as some students became distressed over the progression of the results, there was an overall sense of optimism at the watch party, and a feeling of pride among students who had voted in the midterms.
For first-time voter David Oliver, a freshman majoring in biomedical engineering, this election was especially exciting.
“I am very interested in seeing the outcome of the first election that I have been able to participate in,” he said.
Oliver said he chose to focus on key issues rather than voting based on party lines.
“I paid really close attention to the candidates and their views on immigration and the environment for this election,” Oliver said. “I feel like those two topics are really the most urgent in our country at the moment.”
But this election is not just important to American voters. International student Suraya Buffong, originally from London, sat alongside her friends who had voted, watching with the same intensity.
“Since I am not allowed to vote, I really hope everyone else went out and made informed decisions because it actually counts in this country, where it doesn’t in a lot of other places,” Buffong said.
Although fewer people tend to vote in midterm elections than in presidential elections, freshman Jose Ricardo, a business major, said that both are important.
“Yes, the election of Trump in 2016 was a big day, but this election will tell us how the nation feels about Trump’s first two years and where we are headed as a nation,” he said.