We survived the 2020 United States election, and similarly to 2016, it did not follow a pre-conceived path. It is almost common knowledge by now how voters and media alike got duped by polling data in 2016, but that election cycle had its issues separate from 2020. It would seem that polling perhaps gave another wave of false expectations in 2020 with issues yet to be examined. What is known for sure today is that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States, the Democrats will have a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate majority hinges on both Georgia races. What is still up in the air are full explanations as to why this election was so close despite a clear lack of leadership from Republicans in Congress and the Oval Office. The clearest result of this election is that there was no “Blue Wave”.
The day before the election, FiveThirtyEight projected Joe Biden would likely win around 400 electoral votes, that did not pan out. Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes and his popular vote sits at 81.2 million, a record-breaking number, but Donald Trump’s results are not ignorable. Trump has won 232 electoral votes and also surpassed his 2016 popular vote total by winning 74.2 million votes. Where I am going here is that this race was not a landslide like some suggested. The three key swing states of Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia were all won by Joe Biden by less than one percent, a margin that is too close for comfort. Had these three states swung in favor of The President, we would have had a 269 to 269 electoral college tie. Trump’s performance was honestly quite impressive given the circumstances, examining this early on why he did this well is difficult though. One New York Times opinion article argues it was the pandemic assistance money President Trump gave to Americans, which could very well be true, but there is more to it than money. The Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket campaigned heavily across key states, but could not be everywhere, North Carolina’s result is evidence of this. A state where Democrats were not as organized, resulted in Biden losing the state by 1.3 points. If you ask me, a comparison can be drawn to 2016 and who was responding to the polls. The “shy Trumper” theory may not be as far-fetched as I once thought, and Donald Trump still is popular in many regions across the country.
The 74.2 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump may have also been a factor in the Democrat's meager results in down-ballot races. The House of Representatives was by far the race that seemed the most secure for Democrats before November 3rd. That security has evaporated, and Nancy Pelosi is left with a slim five-seat majority, a worrying sign for the next two years. These results can be interpreted in two ways, it is obvious that Donald Trump as stated earlier is still very popular throughout America. That was reflected in the success of Republicans in both the House and their ability to likely retain the Senate. Alternatively, it can be argued that cross ballot voting was underestimated, where Republicans voted for Joe Biden but still voted for Republican House and Senate candidates. Cross ballot voting is that “Anyone but Trump” mentality, but still not abandoning their right-leaning values. The Senate map in 2020 already swung an advantage into the Republican's corner, so a poor Democratic performance should have been anticipated, but a 52 to 48 Republican majority is very possible.
The grievances of Democratic performance cannot solely be pinned on Republicans, the Democrats are not free of guilt. The Democratic Party over the past year has been in a constant messaging conflict. This is due in part to the increasing pressure from progressive members of the party pushing their agenda against the moderate wing. After a year of racial protests and tension, Democrats could not agree on how they would approach the Black Lives Matter movement, more specifically “Defund the Police”. Representative Abigail Spanberger, a moderate, lashed out on Twitter after the election and attacked progressive Democrats which seemingly handed Republicans material to campaign with. How Democrats presented themselves across the country may have been the most unstable position heading into the election, and it showed. Democrats have a long way to go in 2022 to make up their lost ground and can no longer rely on the ill decisions of Republicans to get elected. Americans need to see what Democrats have to offer on their own if they want a wave.
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