Chelsea Stahl

The 2020 election—a historical event during a historical year—has finally come to an end. After months of advertisements, constant media coverage, and candidate mudslinging—Joe Biden is the predicted winner and soon to be the 46th President of the United States—ending Donald Trump’s one-term presidency.

Much like the 2016 Presidential election, everyone in the country and the world was biting their nails while their faces glued to their televisions, laptops, and cellphones as states slowly counted their votes. It seemed that Trump would win key states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, and Nevada. All states except Florida flipped to favor Joe Biden, thus finalizing his victory over Trump.

Trump overestimated his likelihood to win by giving a preemptive speech just hours before the main-in votes began being counted. In August, half of all Democrats said they would vote through mail whereas a quarter of Republicans expressed their interest in mail-in voting. Much of this can be attributed to the different campaign messages that candidates expressed: Trump urging his voters to cast ballots in person and Biden pushing for mail-in voting. What became clear on election night is that in-person votes were counted before the mail-in ballots. This led to the Red Mirage—as many are calling it—of giving the false impression that Trump was in the lead. For the next few days, mail-in votes were then slowly counted, which tended to greatly favor the Democratic candidate.

After his announced victory, parties across New York City have been broken out in celebration for Joe Biden. This—ultimately—led to a spike in Coronavirus cases in NYC. The hypocrisy is quite evident as individuals crowd themselves on the streets of New York with minimum protection and a lack of social distancing measures. Although celebrating a victory is quite common after a candidate is elected, it should be noted that during a global pandemic, taking to the streets to throw champagne in the air—especially in the city hit hard by COVID-19—should have implemented more restrictions.  

Throughout this stressful process, one thing was made incredibly clear: election polls in the United States cannot be trusted. Before election night, polls were showing that Joe Biden would have a sweeping victory and although he did win, the prediction was overestimated. For example, Ohio predicted that before Election Day Trump was only up one point or less, but ended up winning more than eight points. Florida thought that Biden was up maximum of 2.5 points, but he lost by almost 3.5 points. Whereas Michigan showed differing results saying that Biden was up four to eight points when in reality, once 99% of votes were in, his lead sat a small 2.7 points. The trend continues in many other states as polling results continue to show how unreliable they have become. The problem of over-shooting was also seen in 2016 when poll analysts expected Hillary Clinton to win.

The question to ask is why polling has become unpredictable. Many attribute this to the fact that people are less likely to respond accurately. With technological advancements like caller ID, polling response has decreased to 6% whereas, in the 1980s it was roughly above 50%. Individuals who lean Republican seem to keep their cards close to their chest as they are the majority of people who are less willing to respond. These concepts, along with the pandemic, etc. could also have attributed to the lack of data. However, it is most likely that nowadays, people do not wish their political affiliations to be officially known or expressed.

This uncertainty of who would win led to the nail-biter of the election as states continued to flip between red and blue. Although the results have yet to be finalized and published, Joe Biden is in the lead with electoral and majority votes. Majority of votes surpassing Trump by only a few million with Biden at 51% and Trump and 47.2%. What is clear is that the 2020 election has had the highest voter turnout since 1908.

By Kevin Schaul, Kate Rabinowitz and Ted Mellnik

The numbers clearly show the highest turn out rate, the most mail-in ballots recorded in American history, and a projection that Joe Biden is the winner. The media has called the election long before the official results have been released. Many states have also been called for a recount, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. These states must submit their final results latest December 1st, thus allowing for the official statistics and information to be made available to the public.

Despite the media calling the election, there is still an abundant amount of information that Donald Trump is contesting. He is filing many lawsuits alleging election irregularities and improper ballot-counting in five states. The Wall Street Journal summarizes his lawsuits that involve the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. Not only is Trump battling what he believes to be voter fraud, but he is also blasting the media for calling the election before the official results have been counted. Regardless of his stance, it seems quite clear to the country that Trump will be stepping down in mid-January. 

Now that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have made history, it is time to focus on what they will contribute to the American people. Throughout the election, the media focus and attention was surrounded around the candidates’ characterization instead of the policies that were going to be implemented. In his victory speech, Biden expressed that his number one priority is the pandemic. But the biggest takeaway from Biden’s speech was his message of unity. As he said, “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify—who doesn’t see red and blue states, but the United States. And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.” Biden has given himself quite a task in unifying an incredibly torn country—as the presidential results have shown.

In regard to policies, first, Biden and Harris intend to combat the coronavirus. Biden already has created a task force of 13 health experts and doctors, who are in the process of forming a response plan he intends to implement his first day in office. Their plan includes increasing testing, supplies of masks and PPE equipment, working with locals to increase the use of wearing masks in public, and distributing vaccines once available.

Biden also looks forward to providing more healthcare policies in general by expanding coverage, lowering prescription drug costs, and enrolling more people onto government insurance. It should be noted though that many concerns brought up by analysts and economists include hurting pharmaceutical industry sales and shifting patients from well-paying private insurance to Medicare can also mean that hospitals lose money.

Another aspect Biden is going to focus on is the environment. He seeks to implement a mass use of electric cars, use electrified public and freight transportation, change power plants running without greenhouse-gas emissions, and focus on climate concerns in general. Many of the ideas he intends to implement would have to pass through the congressional legislation. However, there are fears that Biden will surpass checks and balances by seeking administrative agencies and executive orders to execute his goals. It is also clear that Biden will be rejoining the Paris Agreements that Trump left. Biden even tweeted, “Today [November 4, 2020], the Trump Administration officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it.”

One thing that is unclear is Biden’s stance on Supreme court packing. Recently, Amy Cohen Barrett was appointed as Justice after Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s passing. As a result, many have cried in outrage, which has led to the controversial debate on whether or not the court should be packed. Simply put, nowhere in the constitution does it state how many Supreme Court Justices must be appointed to the Judicial branch. As a result, many are advocating for the packing of a court to even the odds of the now Originalist/Republican leaning branch.

Whenever asked if Biden would intend to pack the court, his answers have continuously been unclear as he dodges the controversy. When asked blatantly by journalists if he—or the Democratic party—was going to add justices if ACB were to be put through, Biden responded saying, “It’s a legitimate question, but let me tell you why I’m not going to answer that question. Because it will shift the whole focus, that’s what he [Trump] wants.”

Democrats are quite livid that ACB was appointed by Trump and now seem to be seeking justice by disrupting the American filibuster. Hopefully, Biden will recall that in 1937 Democrats argued that Court-packing was considered, “an invasion of judicial power such as never before been attempted in this country… It is essential to the continuance of our constitutional democracy that the judiciary be completely independent of both the executive and legislative branches of government. It is a measure which should be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America.”

Finally, it should be noted that Kamala Harris has now made history as the first woman—and woman of color—to be in high office. Although much aligned with Joe Biden, Harris is also known for her radical viewpoints similar to Bernie Sanders. In fact, in the past, Kamala has expressed that if made president, she would take executive action to enact stricter gun control. She is also a co-sponsor of the controversial Green New Deal, which many conservatives have decried as a “socialist manifesto” and has pledged to offer a path of citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the USA.

Regardless of her policy issues and her debated past as a harsh enforcer of drug laws in the state of California, Kamala is now making American history. As the first female vice-president, Kamala gave her victory speech alongside Biden, with her now famous quote, “But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.” She is now looked towards as a beacon of hope to many young women in the United States as she also said, “…every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.”

Although the elections seem to be officially over, the transfer of power is still yet to take place until Biden steps forward on January 20, 2021. Many sources, such as New York Times have speculated that Donald Trump will not step down from his presidency. The truth of the matter is, even if he did not want to give up his power, the United States government has the authority to kick him out of the White House. The implication that there will not be a peaceful transfer of power is absurdity as even someone who is a sore loser like Trump will acknowledge the importance of freedom in the nation.

Even with the lawsuits Trump is fighting, the recounts in many states, and the lack of final results, every day the future becomes clearer. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will take office in January as the 46th President and Vice President of the United States of America. Their presidency will be met by much opposition as the country remains to be torn through the middle. Not to mention the whirlwind of a year 2020 has turned out to be. One can only hope that 2021 will bring on a brighter future.