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After more than two dozen presidential candidates, nearly two years of campaigning and nearly $ 14 billion, America is leaving the long election as it entered it: a fiercely divided nation deeply worried about the future.
With many votes to count in Democratic-leaning cities, President-elect Joe Biden won nearly 4.5 million more votes than President Trump, rebuilding his party’s “blue wall” in the industrial North and penetrating in the Sun Belt. But Mr. Trump also widened his margin of support, garnering more than eight million more votes from a somewhat more diverse coalition of voters than he did in 2016.
This election was not the national renunciation of Trumpism that progressives dreamed of. The result was also not a clear sign that voters believed “far left” protests had plunged America into lawlessness and decline, as conservatives had argued.
Instead, we remain a divided house. Often even in the same house.
Of course, some of our policies have changed since 2016. Suburban counties have moved away from Mr. Trump by nearly five points. And Mr. Trump won over a larger chunk of Latino and black voters. (Who saw this coming? Oh wait, we did.)
But so many things seemed to be decided at the margins. Democrats did not sweep the polls, as most expected, leaving control of Congress likely unchanged. While Mr. Biden won the most votes in history, Mr. Trump won the second-most votes.
Four years ago, Mr. Trump ousted Wisconsin from Democrats by 22,748 votes. This year Mr Biden got it back, but its margin is on track to be just as close.
Much has changed since April 2019, when Mr Biden announced his presidential candidacy. The country passed the grim milestone of 10 million reported coronavirus cases yesterday, with new cases up almost 60% from two weeks earlier. Millions more Americans are unemployed, struggling to pay their bills, and falling into poverty.
Through it all, Mr. Biden has made national unity a central part of his campaign message. From his debut as a Democratic candidate until his victory speech on Saturday night, he vowed to be “a president for all Americans”, even those who did not vote for him.
Promoting unity in Washington will not be easy. The Senate is no longer the collegial place where Mr. Biden worked for decades. Like the country, it has become more ideological and more polarized.
Two second-round victories in Georgia early next year would give Democrats the deciding vote in the Senate. But shared control, with Senator Mitch McConnell remaining as the majority head, seems the most likely outcome.
Some goals may be easier to achieve for the new administration. Both sides have expressed a desire to go through another round of coronavirus relief, although they strongly disagree on the size of a stimulus. Other parts of Mr Biden’s agenda, like moving to a public health insurance option, tackling climate change, raising the minimum wage and tackling racial justice, will be unachievable. fully without bipartite cooperation.
Even if defeated, Mr. Trump still holds the Republican Party firmly. In the Senate, only three Republicans have recognized Mr Biden’s victory over fears of alienating a party base that still stands alongside a president who refuses to give in.
Speaking in the Senate today, Mr McConnell refused to recognize Mr Biden as president-elect – even though he acknowledged his party’s inferior ballot victories by meeting with newly elected Republicans in the Senate.
“President Trump has a 100% right to review allegations of wrongdoing and weigh his legal options,” McConnell said.
So after all these years of fighting, how politically divided is America? We can’t even seem to agree that we have an elected president.
It has been a long road, but we have made it. The election is over and many of you are having … all the feelings. We want to hear about it!
What are you waiting for the most, now that the elections are over? I know everyone will miss these constant news alerts. And what makes you optimistic or worried when you think about the future of the country?
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There are prints. There are online. And then there’s the buttercream. I can’t think of a better – or more delicious! – means of commemorating a historical first page.
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