Amid the most protracted, tumultuous presidential election in living memory, tensions in the U.S. have run hot and emotions even hotter. As informed student journalists with an affinity for politics, the Wheel’s Opinion staff provided our thoughts on the election and the nation’s ordeal. Read our takes below.

Yun Zhu (24C): Chill Out and See the Votes Counted

It is unsettling to see that Trump’s still in the lead in several key states, including Pennsylvania and Georgia, but the final result is far from clear. More Democrats choose to vote by mail than Republicans, possibly due to Democrats’ more cautious response to the pandemic, and it means many Democrat ballots have not been counted yet. In Georgia, where Trump is still barely leading, votes from Atlanta and neighboring areas have not been fully processed. It is way too early for Trump to claim victory. 

Aayush Gupta (22B): The Great American Divide

There was a nursery rhyme I was fond of as a kid:

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

America is the new Humpty Dumpty. This election has shown how deeply divided the nation is, and it is difficult to imagine that this division will be healed no matter who wins the presidency.

Martin Shane Li (22Ox, 24C): Democrats to Blame for Trump’s Success

This election should’ve been an easy win. The economy is in shambles, and over 200,000 Americans have died from a hopelessly mishandled pandemic. Instead of running on improving material conditions and promising stimulus checks, Democrats instead repeated their 2016 campaign. Trump and Obama won states like Ohio with charisma and hope, while Biden represents the status quo more than anything else. Even if Democrats win, it will be a victory both narrow and insufficient to discredit Trump’s ideology to Republican leaders. Trumpism isn’t going away, and the Democrats deserve a lot of the blame. 

Sara Khan (23C): Is Incompetence Not Enough? 

I think we can all agree that President Donald Trump has done a horrible job of containing COVID-19 in the U.S. As coronavirus cases continue to rise nationwide, I had faith that Americans would make the right decision this election. And yet, the polling numbers thus far show former Vice President Biden and Trump are neck-in-neck, with many key states such as Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada still hanging in the balance. In recent New York Times exit polls, it’s remarkably clear that Trump voters prioritize economic growth over the well-being of the American people. Even after a pandemic, Americans continue to vote for Trump, blatantly disregarding his faults. Americans, minor tax cuts are not enough to overshadow the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic and islamophobic policies of President Trump. If he wins this election, it’s on you all.

Brammhi Balarajan (23C): This Should’ve Been a Blowout 

Four years ago,  shockwaves were sent through our country. We all believed the polls pointing toward a Trump loss, and we trusted the American people to deliver one. This time, I hoped things would be different. With the mass destruction COVID-19 has wrought on our country, I thought Biden would blow Trump out of the water. I had faith that Americans would see Trump for the corrupt official he is, and deliver a Biden win on Election Day. Instead, we’re stuck playing the waiting game. 

Demetrios Mammas (23C): What Went Wrong for Biden?

By the indications of every reputable news source, Joe Biden should’ve had a landslide victory last night from coast to coast — but that didn’t happen. Not only did Biden lag behind his poll numbers, but Democrats also lost House seats and their chances of retaking the Senate. When this turbulent election cycle ends, Democrats will need to do some soul-searching and figure out how this became a near-sequel to 2016. Perhaps it’s because Biden adopted more liberal positions, maybe it was Trump’s strength with the economy or, possibly, Biden’s past came back to haunt him. When they finish their convalescence and remind themselves of their past success, Democrats need to realize they should’ve carried this election. They could still lose against an opponent who botched the U.S. pandemic response, weakened us abroad and sowed division at home. The saddest part? They’ll probably make the same mistakes again. 

Sophia Ling (24C): Pure Disappointment.

I thought Biden would win. But as the night wore on, my predictions for this election changed at least twenty different times. Trump’s lack of leadership over the last four years (especially in handling COVID-19) and his distaste for media and science should be enough to know who would make a better president. Yet there is still no clear winner. This is disappointing. But perhaps the results from the Senate election are more valuable; after all, even if Biden pulls it off, without the control of the Senate, he would face strong opposition to his agenda. 

Ben Thomas (23C): Death to Election Forecasts

In the 90s, then-President Bill Clinton’s reliance on polling data to direct his campaign strategy was revolutionary. Today, it’s become banal. One has to wonder: what did The Economist, FiveThirtyEight and The Upshot’s predictions give the American people besides more unnecessary, politics-related stress? No matter how often we checked their sites, we couldn’t change the numbers. At most, they reassured Biden’s supporters during a stressful election, only to quickly yield to election returns proving that sense of security false. And in turn, that misguided hope may well have become as much of a self-defeating prophecy last night as it did in 2016 — why wait in line for six hours on Election Day when your candidate seems sure to win? Election forecasts have stressed us out, distracted us from the issues and, very possibly, doomed us to four more years of Trump. It’s time for the prediction madness to end.

Jake Busch (22C): All Eyes on Georgia

No matter the outcome of this bizarre election, one thing is clear: Georgia is prime battleground territory. The president cruised by in Ohio and beat Biden in Florida by more than 3% on Election Day. But the Peach State, which Trump won by five percentage points in 2016, had yet to be called as of Wednesday night. And it’s looking like the Atlanta suburbs continue to get bluer with each election cycle. In Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux is poised to win a suburban Atlanta seat that has been controlled by Republicans since 1994. And in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, one that Trump narrowly won in 2016 but that broke for Stacey Abrams in the 2018 gubernatorial contest, voters reelected incumbent Democrat Lucy McBath by a significant margin. The electoral tides are turning, and right now, Georgia’s on everyone’s mind.

Sara Perez (24C): Really, America? 

With weeks of confident polls predicting a Biden win, it’s clear something went wrong. This should’ve been a landslide. Like 2016, Americans were misled by inaccurate polls. Yet the election is close — especially in battleground states. The close calls, rather than furthering my hate for Trump, have rattled my perception of the American people. We are impatiently waiting, holding on to the hope that Americans made the right call. 

The above views are exclusively those of the Wheel’s Opinion staff.