We have elected a new President. Joe Biden has won and if all goes according to law and tradition, will be sworn in as the nation’s 46th Chief Executive on January 20, 2021. Senator Kamala Harris will join him as the first woman in the Executive Branch as the nation’s Vice President. The call---that he had reached the requisite 270 Electoral College votes---came on Saturday, November 7th, at approximately 9:25 a.m., MST. Of course, like the rest of 2020, normal has become a relative term.
Early in the morning of November 4th, President Trump summoned a crowd of supporters to the White House briefing room where he demanded all vote counting stop. “We don’t want them to find any ballots at four o’clock in the morning and add them to the list. Okay?” But despite his protestations, it was just a case of premature excitation.
But there was nothing nefarious about the votes. They were simply uncounted, late arrivals from same-day voting or ballots from overseas, including those from military members and U.S. citizens stationed abroad. Each state followed legal protocols. But that made no difference. “We want all voting to stop,” said Trump. “We did win this election.” But, perhaps not.
While Colorado’s results came in fairly early last Tuesday evening, other states including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania could not provide an election night winner. Georgia and North Carolina votes were last to come in.
Unlike most modern Presidential Elections that are called---but not determined--- by major news outlets on election night, there was no call last Tuesday night. Because of the unique methods of tabulating votes by individual states, the nation had to wait to learn who would be our next President. But if Trump gets his way, the wait may linger. Legal challenges by Team Trump are already underway.
President Trump has so far refused to concede the election, calling the vote tabulation illegal and declaring that he is the rightful winner. The machinations of his efforts to hold on to the office have clouded the transition.
Joe Biden has been a beltway fixture since 1972 when, as a 29-year-old, was elected to the U.S. Senate where he served six terms. He also served two terms as Vice President under Barack Obama.
This was Biden’s third run for President and, early on, it appeared that once again he would be unsuccessful. He had lackluster performances in early caucuses and primaries finishing behind a field of younger and diverse executive branch hopefuls. But when he won South Carolina, his campaign caught fire. He went on to win the nomination.
“He appealed to middle class voters,” said Rob Preuhs, Political Science professor at Denver’s Metropolitan State University. “He was the established candidate.” Biden also reached out to independents and moderate voters, which Preuhs said, “President Trump has not been able to do this election cycle.”
Working in favor of Biden is the impression he gives off that he’s a ‘regular’ guy. It stems partly from events over the course of his life that people can identify with. For one, he grew up in a decidedly blue collar family in a blue collar town, Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Early in his Senate career, Biden lost his wife and young daughter in an automobile accident. In 1988, he underwent surgery for a potentially fatal brain aneurism. In 2015, his son, Bo, died from brain cancer. In contrast, President Trump has lived a light-year away from so many things most Americans identify with, especially young people.
Team Biden’s camp hit its mark with ‘Gen Z’ voters, young men and women born after the mid-1990’s. Exit polling showed that approximately 68 percent of these first-timers voted for Biden. Only 29 percent of first-timers said they voted for Trump.
Trump did win the votes of more than half of the Latino voters in the key battleground state of Florida. A majority of Cuban-Americans voted for Trump, but 70 percent of Florida’s growing Puerto Rican population, perhaps remembering Trump’s perceived lack of empathy and action following Hurricane Maria, voted for Biden. Trump also did better in 2020 with Latinos in Texas, particularly along the border. He also improved on 2016’s Latino vote in Georgia and Ohio. Data on how Colorado Latinos voted was unavailable.
Exit polling also showed voters disgust or, at least, disappointment with Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. “It was a slow response,” said Preuhs, coupled with “a lack of empathy” for COVID-19 victims that lingered over the election. Preuhs called Trump’s delayed response to the virus that has already claimed more than 230,000 lives “a missed opportunity.” In his book, “Rage,” Trump told noted journalist Bob Woodward that he even though he knew the peril the virus represented, he delayed acting on the it because he didn’t want to cause a panic.
Other factors may also have worked against Trump, including the perception of racism, his lack of response to police violence against African-American men, and his unilateral pardons of friends and associates, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Roger Stone and Scooter Libby.
President-elect Biden spoke Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, on how he plans to govern. The speech was also a call for unity. Over the weekend, he also announced the formation of a team of medical experts to deal with COVID-19. Meanwhile, President Trump has once again broken tradition and has yet to invite Biden to the White House for a formal sit-down. He used his first weekend in defeat to play golf at his own Virginia club. Neither he nor Vice President Pence have made any public statements to the media since early Wednesday morning.