With turnout estimated by several sources to be a whopping 67%, many Americans made their voices heard both early and on election day, as that would be the largest turnout in a presidential election since 1900 (Vox).
In the presidential race, as of this writing, Democrat Joe Biden looks to be close to winning the presidency barring any changes under a potential recount in the upper Midwestern battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. For many Americans, this presidential race was much closer than anticipated, with President Trump securing large victories in the swing states of Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Georgia, and North Carolina. Particularly for the GOP, strong numbers among Hispanic and African American voters was pivotal in making this race a very close contest, in addition to retained support from white working class voters. For the Democrats, youth mobilization combined with record numbers among suburban white voters gave Biden a prohibitive edge.
With that being said, which side of the aisle prevailed on Tuesday night?
While the Democrats appear to have locked down the presidency, the Republican Party can be happy about the results in the House and Senate. In the Senate, which Democrats were given a 75% chance of flipping according to 538’s Nate Silver, Republicans appear to have retained control. This is largely due to several close races going to the GOP, including Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, David Perdue in Georgia, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, and Steve Daines in Montana. This runs contrary to some of the concerns voiced by many establishment Republicans that President Trump’s unpopularity would lead to losses in key down ballot races. In the House of Representatives, the Republicans gained several seats, but the Democrats kept their overall majority.
With all of that being said, what can we take away from this pivotal election? One reality is the leftward shift among white suburban voters compared to several election cycles ago. Had the Republican Party had the same level of support this year from this demographic, President Trump would have likely won the election. This will be a key demographic that the GOP will want to bring back to their coalition in the future without sacrificing their rural working class support and increased minority support. They will also have to strike a balance when picking their next set of candidates, combining Trump’s populist message with a more conventional option that will bring back those suburban voters. For the Democrats, smaller support from Latino voters has to be a major concern, but several positives include a huge increase in voter turnout as well as record high support among white voters with a college degree. With that being said, a major task for the Democratic Party will be reconciling conflicting ideas between the party’s progressive and moderate wings, as well as crafting a policy-oriented message as they will no longer be able to rely on a widespread dislike of Donald Trump once he leaves office. Overall, both sides of the aisle had their fair share of victories this election cycle, and we will have to see what happens as the political landscape in our country continues to change.
Riley Dulin – Politcal Editor