Politics

In Marathon Electoral Contest, Victory for Biden, Draw for Democrats

Joe Biden in front of a display of lights.
President-elect Biden in 2018.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Cohen (see editor’s note)

After four exhausting days of vote-counting in five states ⁠— Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada⁠ — it now appears that Joe Biden, former vice president under President Obama, will become the 46th president of the United States, joined by Senator Kamala Harris as the first female⁠ and first Black⁠ vice president, as Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes have been called for Mr. Biden.

While the electoral vote remained up in the air until midday Saturday, Mr. Biden led incumbent President Trump in the popular vote from the beginning, and appears on track to win the popular vote with a majority (50.6%). Mr. Biden’s 75 million votes are the most ever won by a presidential candidate, as well as 4.5 million more than Mr. Trump. 160 million Americans turned out to vote, two-thirds of those eligible and the highest proportion in over a century

If the current result in Georgia holds, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will capture 306 electoral votes, the exact number pledged to Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in 2016. Trump and Pence eventually received 304 votes after two electors defected.

Supporters of President-elect Biden took to the streets in Philadelphia, where mail ballots proved decisive to his win, to celebrate. Similar jubilant demonstrations were displayed on national television in New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., among other cities.

But for all the hope expressed by Mr. Biden’s supporters, the Democrats have been left scratching their heads at the results downballot, where as of writing they have lost four seats in the House and have failed to wrest control of the Senate from the Republicans, who have held control of the chamber for six years. This result is despite pre-election predictions showing the Democrats as clear favorites to win both chambers of Congress in addition to the presidency.

Early electoral analysis points to a successful deployment of an antisocialist strategy by the Republicans right here in South Florida, where first-term Democratic Representatives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) and Donna Shalala (FL-27) lost their reelection bids to former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez and Spanish-language television host Maria Elvira Salazar respectively. 

Here, attack ads by Republican-aligned groups tying Democratic candidates to socialism did exceptionally well in a state heavily populated by Cuban and Venezuelan immigrants and their descendants, whose home countries have been ruled by autocratic socialist leaders for decades.

Ironically, the Squad of Democratic left wing candidates, several of whom identify as democratic socialists, doubled from the original four members elected in 2018 to include Jaamal Bowman (NY-16), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Cori Bush (MO-01), and Marie Newman (IL-03). 

The Senate elections delivered a strong result for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican caucus, who are on track to capture 50 seats and fended off the lion’s share of strong Democratic challengers, only losing two seats to former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and Arizonan Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. They also picked up one seat in Alabama, where 2018 special election winner Doug Jones (D) was not able to secure a permanent seat, losing out to Tommy Tuberville (R).

Particularly crucial was the successful reelection of Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate who headed off Democratic challenger Sara Gideon on the first ranked-choice ballot.

Republicans also saw comfortable victories for Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in races where Democrats spent millions of dollars in a futile attempt to unseat the prominent Republicans.

With the Democratic caucus standing at 48, the balance of power in the Senate rests in the hands of the voters of Georgia, where both Senate elections will go to runoffs. The regular seat is being contested by the incumbent Republican David Perdue against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff, while a special election for the other seat resulted in pastor Raphael Warnock (D) leading the field with incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in second place.

If Democrats manage to win both seats, they would hold 50 seats⁠ — a majority with Vice President-elect Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote⁠ — and an opening to enact some of the most progressive policies in a generation, given that Democrats have only controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency for two years since the turn of the century.  

Another election that could shape Congress took place in Puerto Rico, where a nonbinding statehood referendum has returned a result of 52.3% of voters in favor of the territory’s accession to the Union. If Puerto Rico is admitted as a state, it would add two senators and have about five representatives in what could be a new political battleground.

Editor’s note: The Navigator would like to thank Mr. Cohen for his gracious allowance of the use of his photography to accompany this article. He is a New York-based freelance photographer. Please see his website or his Instagram for more information.

-Benjamin Schnirman, Editor

Categories: Politics

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