As the nation went to bed or as it awoke November 4th, a profound and prolonged revolution was taking place. While Colorado voters chose former Vice President Joe Biden as its candidate to lead the country and by a convincing margin, a number of other states had---at press time---not completed their count.
Despite early voting and voting by mail, the most challenging, unpredictable, and polarizing administration in the 244 years of the Republic was teetering but had not toppled. If the country is to be made ‘great again,’ we’ll have to wait to find out who’s going to make it that way.
Official certification---an official stamp of approval on the election---will not take place for another month or so. But it will only take several days to get a clear focus on who will carry the title ‘President’ for the next four years. Still, that does not take into account any legal challenges that may still take place like what happened in 2000 in the Bush-Gore election. Who ultimately emerges as the nation’s chief executive, Biden or Donald Trump, inauguration will follow tradition and take place on January 20th.
The 2020 Presidential Election was reminiscent of 2016. Four years ago, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton led in national polls. Biden carried the same mantle. But as in 2016, Trump, with a strong and loyal base, campaigned relentlessly in the last two weeks leading to the election and closed the gap, ultimately winning states where the Biden camp thought it was looking strong.
While it may be a shock to some, Tuesday’s vote is not the end of the line in the quest for the presidency. That trail mark comes December 12th when designated Electoral College voters meet in their respective state capitals to cast their vote. Each state is allocated the same number of votes as they have representatives in Congress. Colorado has nine votes. One for each senator and seven for each House member.
Joe Biden has been a beltway presence since 1972, when he became the sixth youngest Senator in U.S. history. He served six terms representing Delaware. He also served two terms as President Obama’s Vice President. This was also his third try for the presidency. But early in the 2020 campaign, it seemed like time, along with the rest of the field, was once again passing him by.
Early on, Biden’s campaign seemed to be running on fumes. In Iowa and New Hampshire, two big primary plums where it’s said campaigns often ‘come to die,’ he finished out of the top three, usually a death knell for a campaign wanting to be taken seriously. But, still hanging on, he scored a big win in South Carolina. It changed everything. From then on, his campaigned soared---all the way to the nomination.
Biden showed his mettle from South Carolina on, said Metropolitan State University of Denver political science professor, Rob Preuhs. He did it by avoiding the big gaffes and unforced errors that caused the 2016 Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, to concede. Biden, he said, was “an established candidate…playing a reasonable campaign strategy…while reaching out to independents and moderates.”
Despite suffering from an approval rating that never rose to fifty percent, Trump never lost his base. He did, however, lose a lot of big, powerful names political. The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump movement financed by some of the biggest names in Republican politics, put searing anti-Trump commercials on television and the internet. They may have impressed but, in the end, did not change the game, at least enough.
Despite never hitting fifty percent approval, Trump somehow never lost his base and when it appeared he would be a certain ‘one-term’ President, he rose and made election night a nail-biter and lived to fight another day or two or however long it takes for a crystallization of the final numbers. He could take a punch but never got knocked out.
Trump’s base may have found some of the things he did, including banning Muslims, taking children from their parents and locking the children in cages, made questionable comments about women, disabled, LGBQT and others, but it never abandoned him. On the other hand, Trump’s behavior---in the Oval Office or on the stump---clearly galvanized the blue wave bloc.
“We recently saw in the New York Times,” said University of Northern Colorado professor, Priscilla Falcon, “the story disclosing over 500 immigrant children taken from their parents. They’re having a difficult time being reunited…and if Trump wins, we’ll see more of those policies.” Many of the Latino students at UNC, said Falcon, were also not optimistic that Trump would change given a second term. “Many feel that (Trump) will keep the country divided.”
But most troublesome to a lot of voters was the President’s handling of the coronavirus, a pandemic that has killed nearly 230,000 Americans and may rack up nearly that many more by the end of the year. “His biggest mistake was a slow response to the covid (sic) pandemic,” said Preuhs. Again, Trump’s base saw no problem.
COVID-19 was a challenge Trump never got ahead of. Initially denying it, saying it would not evolve into anything serious. His reassurances changed by the week going from “we have it under control,” to months later, after the death toll had reached triple digits saying, “I’ll be right eventually.” But the meter kept running---in the wrong direction. Finally, added Preuhs, Trump never showed a real sense of empathy.
In the end, it was a classic ‘tortoise v. hare’ campaign. Biden played his methodical, slow-but-steady role to perfection. “He appealed to the voter and reached out to independents and moderates,” said Preuhs. Trump, on the other hand, played hard and fast with truth, an M.O. that played well with the base.
The two candidates’ message---one aged pragmatism, the other bombast and bluster---landed differently on younger voters. “I feel that Biden’s words are more important to me,” said Patience Ruiz, a Pueblo youth activity director. Trump’s style, she said, is off putting. “The way he treats other human beings; the way he speaks about other human beings; the way you speak says more about you than the other person.”
For first-time Pueblo voter and FedEx manager, Brad Teter, his Biden vote was all about health care. Teter’s a Type-1 diabetic. Under Trump, he said, insulin prices have continued to rise forcing him to scramble for an insurance policy that would help with costs. “I just want to stay alive and I can’t stay alive if I can’t afford my medicine.”
Biden-Trump was a classic contrast in character, said Mike Feeley, former Colorado Senate Minority Leader. “Joe Biden performed well because he put one in front of the other and ran an efficient campaign.” More importantly, said Feeley, “People saw that he carried himself as a purely decent man.”
Now we can only wait.