While the 2020 polls were once again wildly off, it appears they were just right enough and thank the fucking Lord. Former Vice President Joe Biden has been declared to be the winner in the 2020 presidential election, defeating a man whose name I would like to never think of ever again but whose influence will most definitely remain in the party that he reshaped into his own hideous image.
After election night ended, as expected, in uncertainty, on Wednesday, the Associated Press called Wisconsin and Michigan for Biden, and on Saturday morning, Biden was declared the winner in Pennsylvania, giving Biden enough votes in the electoral college to win the presidency. Biden’s victory can be squarely attributed to a few factors. Democratic voters’ desire across the board to vote out Donald Trump after four years of chaos and misery, in particular Black voters in critical states like Pennsylvania and Michigan; long-term and sustained grassroots organizing in key battleground states; and Donald Trump’s incredibly inept mishandling of the covid-19 pandemic as well as his rhetoric around the Black Lives Matter movement, which helped drive turnout to historic levels.
While the wave of suburban white voters fleeing Trump never quite materialized in the numbers the Democrats needed, with Trump appearing to even grow his support among white women voters compared to 2016 according to an initial AP survey, it seems it was the Democratic Party’s core base—people of color and liberal white voters—that ensured a Biden victory, which should provide some important lessons to the DNC if they actually care about winning in the future. Arizona’s likely flipping has widely been credited to the work of grassroots Latinx organizers in the state who have been building movement infrastructure for years. And Biden’s wins in Midwestern states that Hillary Clinton narrowly lost in 2016 largely came on the strength of increased Black voter turnout.
And given that the results in Nevada and Georgia, where Biden has an extremely narrow lead, still remain unclear—but are erring on Biden’s side—there is a good chance that once the dust settles, Biden will have defeated Trump by a fairly wide margin in the Electoral College. Biden, as expected, has a large lead in the national popular vote. As in Arizona, the credit for Biden’s possible victory in Georgia should go to organizers on the ground who have been building infrastructure for years, and to the vision and work of Stacey Abrams in transforming the Democratic electorate in the state.
As for Trump, who has been signaling his intention to delegitimize the election results for months now, he is for once keeping a promise that he’s made to his base. Trump’s campaign has already threatened to demand a recount in Wisconsin and filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Michigan calling for a “temporary” stop to the states’ ballot counting; a lawsuit in Georgia over absentee ballots received after the deadline; and a lawsuit in Nevada claiming “improper votes” were cast. But these efforts are likely to make no difference in the final results, and already, judges have tossed out the Trump campaign’s lawsuits in Michigan and in Georgia. Trump and his campaign surrogates have been pushing the wildly false lie that the democratic process of counting ballots is a “fraud.” In another bald-faced lie, he and his campaign on Wednesday attempted to claim that he had won Pennsylvania, where hundreds of thousands of ballots widely expected to skew heavily Democratic had yet to be counted. But for all of Trump’s bluster about fraud and his campaign’s legal efforts, election experts are highly skeptical that any of Trump’s lawsuits will lead to a redux of Bush v. Gore. As Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor, pithily put it to ProPublica, “A lawsuit without provable facts showing a statutory or constitutional violation is just a tweet with a filing fee.”
Biden lagged behind other candidates early on in the Democratic primary, but after more moderate candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris dropped out the entire party coalesced around Biden, viewing him as the nominee most likely to build a coalition to defeat Trump. During a general election campaign marked by both a growing pandemic and a resurgent Black Lives Matter protest movement, Biden painted himself in stark contrast to his opponent as a man of character and competence, preaching a message of unity. While this nostalgic return to pre-Trump politics is rooted in a whitewashing of both recent and distant past, it resonated with enough voters. Biden, in nods to more leftist voters, also embraced watered-down elements of key progressive proposals, supporting a public option for health insurance, for instance.
Meanwhile, in Trump’s re-election playbook, his only response was sticking to the ideology of white resentment that propelled his rise. Pinning his hopes on attempts to appeal to his overwhelmingly white base, he repeatedly warned that a Biden administration would destroy our “beautiful suburbs” and attacked Biden as held captive by “Antifa” and the “far-left,” as well as painting Kamala Harris as a socialist. But survey after survey showed that this message largely fell flat with voters outside of Trump’s base—most voters felt strongly that under Trump, the country had moved in the wrong direction, and felt he had badly mishandled the covid-19 pandemic. A last-ditch effort by the Trump campaign to repeat the exact same October surprise of 2016, only this time with Hunter Biden’s emails, largely fizzled out.
Still, the fact that 48 percent of voters still chose a man who bungled a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans is a sign that Trump’s base will remain even after Trump himself leaves office. And Biden, barring the extremely unlikely event that Trump successfully steals the election, will be facing huge challenges once in office. Besides inheriting a pandemic that is spiraling out of control thanks to Trump’s incompetence and indifference, the wreckage of which will likely only get worse from now until January, he will in all likelihood be handed a divided Congress, with the House led by Democrats and a Senate still firmly in Mitch McConnell’s greedy little hands. With the fate of two Senate races in Georgia still unknown, whether the Democrats under Biden will have the ability (and equally as important the desire) to push for anything substantive—a wishlist that includes packing the Supreme Court as well as the massive covid-19 relief bill we desperately need—continues to be an open question.
But you know what? I’m going to personally give myself a week to feel extremely thrilled that the pus-filled pimple on America’s butt will be in all likelihood leaving the White House in January, and then move on to the real work of holding Biden’s feet to the fire. This is just the start.