Election 2020

Joe Biden is projected to win the 2020 presidential election

A contentious race saw razor-thin margins in key states, but the former vice president ultimately pulled ahead when it mattered most

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris may have received a clear mandate with their record-breaking popular-vote victory, but they’ll have to contend with Trumpian politics


Joe Biden is projected to win the 2020 presidential election, defeating Donald Trump in a nail-biter of a race sure to remain contentious given the country’s bitter partisan divide and the president’s reckless and unfounded claims voter fraud.

On Saturday, November 7, major news networks projected that Biden, a former Delaware senator and vice president during Barack Obama’s administration, would win Pennsylvania, pushing him over the 270 electoral-vote threshold. Counting continues in several states, including Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia, where Biden is leading or expected to win.

Months of strong polling, both nationally and in crucial swing states, had the Biden coalition hoping for a resounding repudiation of the president and the MAGA movement Tuesday night. But that blue wave didn’t materialize — a reflection of the stubbornly polarized American electorate and a clear sign that Trumpism will remain a powerful political force with or without Trump in the White House.

Biden and Kamala Harris may have received a clear mandate with their record-breaking popular-vote victory, but they’ll have to contend with Trumpian politics — and a Senate still likely at the mercy of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and their ilk — as they work to set the country on a course back to more traditional leadership and to address the various crises it is facing, from the pandemic to climate change to racial inequality.

It won’t be easy. Still, the words President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris have to be refreshing after four years under Trump and a wild race for the White House that was capped by an election night like no other.

Biden entered the night as the heavy favorite, but public polling once again proved unreliable, and Democrats’ dreams of a blowout dissipated with Trump wins in Florida and Ohio.

Biden took the stage in Delaware as disappointment mounted, urging supporters to remain patient and to stay optimistic until all votes were counted. “We feel good about where we are,” he said. “We believe we’re on track to win this election.”

That proved prescient: Though Trump prematurely declared victory from the East Room of the White House, as expected, the tides turned in Biden’s favor in key swing states as mail-in ballots were tabulated.

The fact that the race was so close — that so many down-ballot Republicans held onto power — despite the chaos and corruption and incompetence of the last four years, and nearly a quarter of a million Americans dead in the worsening pandemic, certainly does not reflect well on the nation.

And yet, in receiving more votes than any candidate in history and prevailing over Trump and his efforts at voter suppression, Biden has made clear most Americans have had enough.

Come January, he’ll have an opportunity to bring back at least some semblance of normalcy. And in winning, Harris has made history, becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to be part of a winning presidential ticket.

Of course, it likely won’t be until Biden is sworn in as the nation’s 46th president in January and sitting in the Oval Office that his supporters will breathe a sigh of relief.

After months of working to suppress votes and delegitimize the electoral process, Trump is likely to continue to challenge the results — both formally, through lawsuits, and on his Twitter feed. The threat of unrest and potential violence also remains as the nation enters what promises to be a turbulent interregnum.

Indeed, neither Trump nor the cult-like movement around him is likely to go away anytime soon. The vote this fall was never going to put the toothpaste back in the tube. The fringe forces he unleashed in the mainstream of our society will continue to play a role in American life—concretely, in the political careers of people like QAnon-linked Representative-Elect Marjorie Taylor Greene; more broadly, in the polarization and paranoia and hate that had always existed in American culture, but that now dominate it.

Meanwhile, the extraordinary circumstances in which the election played out are still in place: The nation remains in the throes of a reckoning on systemic racism and gripped by a pandemic that has killed over 230,000 and counting while the current president steers the world’s foremost democracy on an unmistakable path to authoritarianism.

The latter governed Trump’s responses to the former: The pandemic became the defining failure of his presidency, but it also gave him an opportunity to try to suppress votes.

The racial justice demonstrations that erupted after the police killing of George Floyd shone a spotlight on his own bigotry and divisiveness, but they also became the springboard for the racist “law and order” slogan with which he attempted to save his sputtering campaign.

His political demise won’t erase those or other of the massive issues facing the country, of course. Addressing those crises, and restoring more traditional American leadership, will now fall to Biden and Harris.

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