2020 US Election: what happened and what does the future hold for the USA?

The 2020 US Presidential election is over, Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump and following his inauguration in January of next year he will become the 46th President of the United States. Biden won enough states to give him 306 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 232, the same margin Trump won by in 2016, a margin Trump hailed as a “landslide”. So, Trump has apparently lost by a landslide, according to the standards he set himself. While the election itself may be over, it continues to dominate the political scene in the USA. Reflection on the election will certainly ensue, were the polls more accurate this time? Will Trump’s legal challenges amount to anything? And what will a Biden presidency entail?

Political commentators often point to the 2016 presidential election as the pinnacle of polling mishaps. So, in response the polling companies such as ‘Fivethirtyeight’ promised to fix their methods and create more accurate polls for this year. Yet the polls somehow ended up being even less accurate.

According to the polls Joe Biden was poised to win states like Wisconsin and Michigan very comfortably, ‘538’ gave him a 7.9% lead in Michigan, and an 8.4% lead in Wisconsin. He ended up winning by incredibly slim margins, 2.8% in Michigan, and just 0.7% in Wisconsin. So while the correct winner was predicted in Joe Biden, the margins were historically inaccurate, even worse than 2016.

This trend continued in the states that were supposed to be close, notably Ohio and Texas. Trump held very small leads in Ohio and Texas, Biden was expected to push Trump to the limit, potentially pulling off wins in these states. In reality, Trump blew Biden out the water, winning both states comfortably; by 5.5% in Texas and 8% in Ohio

The biggest misfire, however, was Florida. ‘538’ had Biden leading by 2.5%, a fairly desirable lead for a state that is usually very close, as is Florida, yet Trump ended up winning by 3.3%, the biggest margin since 2004. Florida counted their results quickly, so Trump was awarded their 29 electoral votes early on election night, for a while sending the Democrats into a frenzied panic, fearing 2016 was about to repeat itself. In the end it wasn’t enough to secure a second term, but it set the trend for a seriously close election. What many expected to be a convincing Biden win turned out to be a real squeaker. These historically inaccurate polls will no doubt lead to the ‘Shy Trump Voter’ theory once again rearing its head.

So, while the polls did underestimate how well Trump would perform, he still fell short. All major media outlets have called the race for Joe Biden, including Trump’s beloved Fox News. Trump disagrees, claiming victory and continuing his crusade against mail-in ballots and launching lawsuits all over the United States in a bid to overturn the result of the election and send him back to the White House.

However, these lawsuits are being swatted away rather swiftly, NBC News reports that 24 of the 35 legal challenges have already been denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn. The chance these legal challenges would overturn the election was never particularly likely when some of the lawsuits filed were evidently baseless and, in some cases, just bizarre. For example, a lawsuit filed by Republican voters and joined by the Trump campaign in Arizona, which has since been dropped, claimed some voters were being given sharpies by Democrat poll workers to cast their vote, knowing the vote tabulators could not read sharpie and would thus not count their vote. In reality, the vote tabulators are advanced enough to read all types of pen, even a sharpie

So, while you may have heard Donald Trump has a team of elite lawyers filing lawsuits all over the USA to swing the election into Trump’s favour, the reality is that these legal challenges will have little to no impact on anything except unnecessarily prolonging the inevitable; a Trump loss. With his legal challenges to the election results being largely ineffective, the political future of Donald Trump seems to reside within the rumours of another presidential run in 2024. So, while he won’t be President for the next four years, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard the last of Donald Trump.

Having established Donald Trump has lost this election, the presidency of Joe Biden will soon begin. Joe Biden will become president in just a few months when he officially takes the oval office. However, it is not completely clear how a Biden presidency will play out for two reasons; his campaign revolved around the concept of “I’m not Donald Trump and please wear a mask.” So, many people don’t actually know what policies he wants to implement, will he stick to his reputation as a moderate centrist or will he take to the progressive ideas that are continuing to gain even more traction in America?

The second reason, however, could end up forcing Biden’s hand. It largely hinges on the two upcoming senate seat runoff elections in Georgia that will take place in early January. With the senate currently at 50 seats for the Republican party and 48 for the Democrats, these two remaining seats are crucial in deciding the balance of power.

If the Republicans can win at least one of these seats, bringing their total to 51 seats, they will officially hold the majority and can act as an effective opposition and roadblock to Biden, likely rejecting the more progressive policy ideas, forcing Biden to cut deals for more centrist compromises. Should Republicans win the majority the American left wing can say goodbye to the hopes of extensive healthcare, climate and electoral reform.

All hope is not lost for American progressives, however. Biden deployed more progressive rhetoric during the election campaign, swinging leftward on issues such as the climate and social issues like student debt. But, getting Biden on-side is just one half of the obstacle, the other, is obtaining the senate majority. While not probable, it is possible that the Democrats win both run-off races in Georgia, bringing the senate to a 50-50 split in terms of seats, with the Vice President acting as the tiebreaker in the event of any ties. This means if Democrats do win both Georgia seats, they can pass more progressive legislation if every Democrat senator votes along the party line and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will break the tie and get it passed. Again, while it’s not probable that every Democrat will vote for progressive policies, it is possible. 

So, Joe Biden will soon be at the helm of the United States and he will begin working on his pledge to save the soul of the United States and bring the country back together, it is yet to be seen how successful he will be at achieving this, it seems to be an incredibly tall order. What we do know is that Donald Trump is gone, at least for the next four years, but he may just be able to make a comeback in 2024.


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