There’s one certainty after votes are tallied in a close presidential election: the US will remain sharply divided

Joe Biden was continuing  to inch ahead in the race for the White House at the time this item was posted, but a clear result is not expected for two days. Most recent counting has Biden with 248 Electoral College votes to Donald Trump’s 214. 

The Democrats’ “blue wall” failed to materialise, as had been predicted in the expectation that early voting would favour them in all races.   

The results so far have left the Democrats devastated and already recriminations have begun. Was Biden’s campaign too laid back and socially-distanced? Did the prospect he would serve only one term matter, because who would follow him?   Was he really too old and tired-looking compared with Trump’s manifest energy in the closing stages of the campaign?

Did Trump’s taunts that “Sleepy Joe” had had 47 years in Washington DC and “hadn’t really achieved anything” resonate strongly in the rural and old industrial states in the mid-west and south? Was his manifesto too dense and detailed, especially on labour relations (which we have already reviewed) and provide the Republicans with too much ammunition?

Was the broader electorate frightened off by the radical (by US standards) policies espoused by younger Democrats in the House led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district?  By contrast, the Republicans issued only a bland list of half-a-dozen bullet points.

Several states are still counting mailed-in voting but most of the outstanding votes are expected to favour Biden and he is likely to be the next President of the United States.

Trump seized Florida, boosted by a large turnout by Cuban-American voters. Assuming he holds North Carolina and Georgia, where he is currently leading, he can be re-elected if he wins Pennsylvania but he would need Wisconsin (claimed by Biden) or Michigan.

If he lost Georgia, he would need to also carry Michigan (in addition to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to reach 270 electoral votes and the presidency.

If Biden holds Arizona and Nevada, where he is currently leading, he can get to exactly 270 electoral votes if he wins Wisconsin and Michigan.

But Biden does not need to carry Pennsylvania to win the presidency. If he were to win Georgia (and still win Arizona and Wisconsin), he could lose Michigan and Pennsylvania and still hit 270 electoral votes.

On the night Trump claimed victory and he has launched legal attacks on counting in Wisconsin which Biden is leading – and Michigan. 

There will be court challenges in several states during and following the final vote counting process. While the outcome of the presidential election has not been determined, regardless of the result,

America remains an extremely divided country.

 The close result of this election will only further these divisions. The Democrats look to have failed in their bid to win control of the Senate while their majority in the House of Representatives has narrowed to around 20 seats. Many of the gains of the 2018 mid-term election have been lost.

If Biden wins the White House but does not control the Senate and has only a marginal lead in the house, then his could be a lame-duck presidency. In the House, many Democratic incumbents were defeated in a surprisingly strong Republican night.

The election resulted in a record turnout across the country with more than 67% of Americans voting, around 160 million compared with 137 million in 2016. It is estimated 64% of the vote was early, 34% of which was by mail.

As expected, early and mail-in voting favoured Democrats, while Republicans flooded the polls on Election Day.

Exit polling showed that Biden’s support came disproportionately from women, urban and suburban voters, non-whites and college graduates. Trump collected large margins with men, mainly non-college educated white voters and rural voters.

Trump did particularly well with Hispanic voters in Florida and Texas. Trump supporters told exit pollsters that they were more focused on reopening the economy than containing the coronavirus.


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