The 2020 Presidential Election results need no real introduction, but just in case you are one of the many still outstanding apolitical Americans who still bafflingly don’t see the value in your vote, here’s one anyway. On Saturday morning, after what seemed like the longest week of 2020 (and that’s saying something), major news outlets across the country declared their official prediction that Democrat Joe Biden, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at his side, will become the 46th President of the United States, unseating republican Donald Trump after one term in office. With over 75 million people in his court, Biden amassed the most votes for a presidential candidate in American history in an election of record-breaking voter turnout.
But as we all know, that vote count is not what decides the presidency. Unlike in 2016, the electoral college swung heavily in favor of Democrats this election. Saturday morning saw President-elect Biden win the state of Pennsylvania in a close race, tipping him over the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. Shortly afterwards, Nevada awarded its 6 votes to Biden as well, bringing his total to 290. Many states saw a nail-bitingly close race, with major news networks unable to call them in favor of either candidate for several days after Election Day. This included the battleground states of Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and the aforementioned Pennsylvania (all of which Biden was able to flip for Democrats after 2016 saw them vote red), as well as the historically red state of Georgia, which at time of writing has still not officially been called (though more than likely will see Biden awarded an additional 16 electoral votes, despite an automatic recount). The states of Alaska and North Carolina have also yet to be confirmed for either candidate, though even if they go red, which is the most likely outcome, Trump will still have decisively lost.
Setting aside the sentiment that our current electoral process is woefully outdated, and has more than once in the last generation elected a president without the popular vote, Trump is doing his feeble best to foster distrust in our voting system, alleging voter fraud and a multitude of other illegal practices throughout the country (but really only in the states he lost). Trump has attempted to raise legal hell in the states that went blue, particularly battleground states where the race was incredibly close.
The electoral College split in the 2020 election, with electoral votes in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alaska going to their currently leading candidates. Courtesy of 270towin.com.
In Pennsylvania alone Trump’s team has filed at least five lawsuits, one of which pleading outright to stop ballot counting, which was swiftly dismissed. The Trump campaign made big talk of an supposed victory when they won a case that allowed them closer viewing access to the ballot counting, but all this really accomplished was a slower count in the state. The other three lawsuits, having to do with voter IDs, mail-in ballots and whether to count ballots received after Election Day (which by the way is perfectly legal if they are postmarked by November 3rd), are all ongoing, though legal experts repeatedly fail to see any substantial evidence that would indicate they would bring Trump any progress.
The same goes in Nevada, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona, where all of Trump’s cases, most of which demanded to stop counting, alleged voter fraud or asked for closer examination of the counting process were dismissed. Even in states where Trump is within his legal right to demand a recount, like Wisconsin, such an action is incredibly unlikely to change the original outcome.
If the responses to these lawsuits, both judicial and public, tell us anything, it is that America, and the free world at large has already declared who they see as the winner and loser of this election, despite how those suits turn out. Leaders across the globe, including Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel, and Micheál Martin have extended congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, completely disregarding Trump’s frenetic attempts to sow distrust in the outcome and our democratic process. This is particularly gratifying to watch, as the only thing Trump hates more than being wrong is being ignored.
It has been largely concluded that Black and other people of color “saved” this election with their votes, and sure, they are certainly what finally turned the tide against Trump. Stacey Abrams in particular deserves special praise for her achievements in registering hundreds of thousands of new voters, many of which were people of color. But the people (predominately white Democrats) who use the particular rhetoric stating that the Black vote “saved us” need to remember they were not doing it for us, as if they owe us a damn thing. They were doing it to protect themselves from a man and administration who explicitly work against their interests, actively harm them, and publicly endorse their persecution and prosecution. The same goes for LGBTQ+ voters.
That said, the election proved marvelous strides in political diversity, electing for the first time two Black gay men, Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, to Congress, as well as the first Black Congresswoman in Missouri in Cori Bush and the first openly transgender Senator in Sarah McBride. And of course there is Kamala Harris, the first woman, first Asian-American and first Black woman elected to such high office in the US.
As good as this weekend turned out, Democrats did not get everything they campaigned for, at least not yet. In The House of Representatives, while overwhelmingly likely to maintain their majority, Democrats have currently lost four seats while Republicans gained five, with 24 races still to be declared. The Senate is more up in the air however. Standing at 48 seats each at present (with a +1 net gain for blue and -1 net loss for red), the fight for a majority remains uncalled until January, where two Georgia races will defer to a runoff election. One of those races, that between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Kelly Loeffler seems more likely to favor the former, while the other between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue sees the latter with a slight lead. Democrats need both, along with Harris’s seat come January, to secure that majority.
Despite the uphill battle for the Senate, Trump’s ultimate loss and painfully unsuccessful legal struggles have provided a wonderful sense of schadenfreude for Democrats. It has been more than satisfying to watch a man, who stood so bolstered by his own team willing to scratch his back in exchange for job security, pathetically flail around and shrink in his own hands as he attempts to grasp an audience that has made it clear they are finally done listening. The fact is: Biden won, and no amount of weak litigation will change that outcome.
But certain things will never be the same in American politics. The last two elections have shown serious weak spots in American polling predictions, even after a revamp following 2016. We may not be comfortable or confident going into an election for quite some time. We also need to reckon with the fact that America, as we have said for the last four years, is well and truly divided.
There is plenty of speculation about what the future may hold for a Biden presidency. The President-elect’s claim that he will unite our country is an easy one to wax cynicism about considering the roughly 71 million Americans that did vote for another four years for the orange one. But for now, the final 72 days and counting of Trump’s presidency, including the last 53 days of this exhausting year, are ones where we can finally start to be hopeful for our future as a nation, no matter how divided. The notion that Trump will try his damnedest to do as much lasting damage as possible before finally being shown the door on January 20th is certainly scary, but we at least know that come that date, there will be a man in the Oval Office who will try his damnedest in return to undo those wrongs, and a Vice President behind him who will always look out for all Americans, even the ones that look just like her.
Out of the White House, Trump will undoubtably become a martyr figure amongst his most diehard supporters, and will likely remain in a key face of the Republican Party even after his term. Trumpian politics will dominate the far and even moderate right for an entire generation, if not longer, and be a hallmark of our history textbooks in the coming years. That said, once 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is free of Trump, his various immunities and cabal of employees willing to look the other way will fade, and he will be attacked on all sides by pending subpoenas and lawsuits he was able to block for the last four years. His hands will certainly be full, even if some of what is filling them will be the same blind support he has seen all his life. But maybe, if we are lucky, Twitter might ban his account.