Democrat and Republican student supporters were not surprised by the landside victory that President-elect Barack Obama won over Sen. John McCain Tuesday night.
Middle Tennessee State University seniors Lani Lester and Matt Hurtt participated in the 2008 Student Debate last week. Lester, a mass communication and political science major, debated the Democratic position, while Hurtt, a history and political science major, debated the Republican position.
"Part of me was expecting it, but another part of me was afraid to expect it," Lester said. "Obama is not just the first African-American to be elected to president, but he is someone that I really believe in, whose policies I really believe in."
As the first black president-elect, Obama will be sworn in Jan. 20, 2009. The year will also mark the centennial anniversary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"I think it means a lot of different things to different people," Lester said. "As a county we have reached a milestone. Although we have not yet experienced complete racial equality, we are that much closer to realizing that dream that Martin Luther King articulated so many years ago."
According to Hurtt, the unpopularity of President George W. Bush and Obama's excellent campaigning contributed to McCain's loss.
"The victory was not a big surprise to me," Hurtt said. "I have thought for a while that John McCain was the sacrificial lamb of the Republican Party for the 2008 election."
Both Lester and Hurtt were surprised by some of the swing states that Obama won.
"I knew that Obama was going to win, but I wasn't sure of the margin," Hurtt said. "I was surprised he won Indiana and Ohio. He pulled more electoral votes than [he] actually needed."
To win the election, either candidate needed a total of 270 electoral votes. Obama received 349 to McCain's 163.
Lester said she was surprised that votes were still coming in even after Obama was announced as the winner.
"I am not sure how many swing states I was expecting Obama to win," Lester said. "I was overjoyed that he won Ohio, because I don't think that a Republican president has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio."
During McCain's concession speech to his supporters, he seemed genuine, Hurtt said.
"McCain has always said that we are Americans first, so whatever happens, we have to come together and reach a consensus," Hurtt said. "What's good for Republicans isn't always good for Democrats and vice versa, but when we work together, we can figure out what's good for America."
While it is clear that Obama's win is a victory for the Democrats, Lester said it is not the time to focus on partisan issues.
"Obviously a lot of Democrats are overjoyed that Obama won, but given our current economic crisis and the two wars that we are engaging in, we don't need to focus on partisan issues," Lester said. "We need to work together to restore our economy and make sure that our country achieves real change."
Although Obama won the national election, McCain carried Tennessee's 11 electoral votes. The following counties voted for Obama: Davidson, Hardeman, Haywood, Houston, Jackson and Shelby.