The 2020 US presidential race was an ugly, ferocious dogfight. So it only makes sense for the contest to end the same way it started.
Americans went to bed unsure who their next president was going to be. At the time of writing, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are neck-and-neck (223-212 in favour of Biden in the Electoral College tally) in most of the battleground states that will determine who emerges victorious and who will be forced into an early retirement. Trump did what he needed to do in Florida, winning by approximately three points in the perennial swing-state to keep his re-election prospects alive. It appears Trump will also pull out a win in North Carolina after trailing for most of the night. Ohio looked dicey for the Trump campaign until approximately 10pm EST (3am GMT), when the vote started filling in for the president. The Biden campaign’s dream of winning Georgia and Texas, conservative bastions in American politics, proved to be short-lived.
Biden, however, flipped Arizona into his column, depriving a state Trump won four years ago and which the Republican party has long considered ruby-red territory. Unfortunately for the GOP, Arizona is now effectively a battleground due to the fast-changing demographics around the Phoenix suburbs, where an influx of Latinos and professional white-collar workers are making the state far more competitive than the Republican party would like. A case in point: the Republican incumbent senator, Martha McSally, lost her race to Democratic challenger Mark Kelly in a landslide.
As much as Americans may have anticipated a surprise in this year’s presidential contest, the race is turning out to be a near-identical replica of 2016 — at least so far. There have been very few developments worth pointing out. For Democrats, the big story thus far is the success they’ve had in Arizona. For Republicans, it was Trump’s ability to scrap and claw nearly 200,000 more votes in the Miami area, making a more impressive showing from his numbers in 2016. In a state like Florida that goes down to the wire every four years, this is no small potatoes.
We may not have a winner just yet, but the results thus far are in many ways a reflection of just how divided the United States has become politically, culturally, and ideologically in the era of Donald Trump. Notwithstanding Joe Biden’s harmonious platform of healing the soul of the nation, the country is essentially divided into three broad sections: the hard-core Trumpists who view the president as a living, breathing God; Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans who view Trump himself as the personification of despotism; and a very small, thin slice of Americans who are caught in the middle. The American public can’t even agree on the top issue of the day. Trump voters overwhelmingly cite the economy as job number one, while Biden supporters eye the Covid-19 pandemic as the indisputable challenge for America. If the country can’t even agree on the problem, how on earth can it devise a solution?
The votes will continue to be counted. Millions of mail-in-ballots are still in various precincts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, waiting to be opened. The expectation is most of those votes will favour Biden, whose supporters were more inclined to cast their ballots early.
Whatever the ultimate result, an already anxious America will be on pins and needles over the next 24 to 48 hours. With Joe Biden insisting victory is within reach and Donald Trump already complaining about voter fraud, Americans will have to buckle down and prepare for even more tension regardless of which candidate they put their faith in. On that, at least, the American electorate is united.