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Communication Faculty: Keep Counting and Focus on the Process

By David Ertischek ’01

The process must go on! That’s the thought that ran through the worried minds of Emerson faculty as they lay down to rest on Tuesday night.

Communications Studies Chair Greg Payne knew that counting ballots must continue. Payne said many people overestimated what election results would be, and that it’s important to remember that an incumbent hasn’t lost since 1992.

“Also … since 1988, Republicans had only won the popular vote in presidential elections once; 2004, we have had Bush and now Trump. Is this really a democracy?” asked Payne.

Roger House, associate professor in American Studies, was shocked at how quickly Florida turned for Trump, considering polls. He added he went to bed fearing that Biden’s “Blue Wall” of Midwest states would follow Florida.

Vincent Raynauld, associate professor of Communication Studies, said that the system is working, and the ballots must be counted despite President Donald Trump’s attacking of results and call for counting to cease.

Roger House
Roger House

The irony in Trump’s declaration is that if voting did stop at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, he would lose, said Raynauld. To his point, Raynauld said he went to sleep at 3:30 am, and by the time he woke up, both Wisconsin and Michigan were being won by former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Even if he’s attacking the legitimacy of results and making questionable claims of the electoral process, the counting keeps going,” said Raynauld. “And media organizations have been good at tamping down calls of it being a contested election. It’s not a contested election until votes are counted, and certified by states.”

By Wednesday afternoon Trump had already said he was calling for a recount in Wisconsin after Biden was announced as the narrow victor.

Predictions Are Hard to Make

Numerous states were still counting votes as of late Wednesday afternoon, and were expected to be counted into the night and past Wednesday. That makes it hard to predict who will win, said Raynauld.

Headshot of a man
Vincent Raynauld, associate professor of Communication Studies

“A lot of people are focused on the theatrics and theater, and people need to re-center on the process,” said Raynauld. “It’s a great moment for people to reeducate themselves about the process: the different ways states count ballots. Michigan is different than Wisconsin, Wisconsin is different than Pennsylvania.”

House believed Biden would win, but it won’t be easy to govern.

“His position is like that of a good samaritan trying to break up a fight between determined opponents. He will encounter massive resistance from Republicans and staunch resistance from progressives in his own party,” said House.

House added that the U.S. Senate campaign of Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia was being under-appreciated.

“With little money, and many doubters, this humble minister of Martin Luther King’s church in Atlanta earned a re-match against a very wealthy opponent in January,” said House. “His campaign is the most important movement for Black political power in the country today.”

Payne predicted that we’d end the week with President-Elect Biden and with Trump in court. Either way, Payne said as a country, we must find a bridge between what he deemed the “Divided States of America.”

“The real challenge for the next president is we have very little in common and live in our mediated realities,” said Payne. “Such storytelling is the essence of Emerson.”

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