Joe Biden has won the 2020 election, and he will become the 46th president of the United States. Although it may be another week or two until final results are certified, we already have a good sense of where things stand and what happened. We want to show you a closer look at some key takeaways from the election and what they mean for our path forward.
First, Biden won with more votes than any President-elect ever, giving him a sweeping mandate to govern once he is in office. Biden is on track to win 306 electoral votes – the same as Trump’s margin 4 years ago – yet Trump received 3 million fewer votes than Clinton in 2016 while Biden’s lead is already 5.1 million votes and counting. Trump is now just the fifth incumbent president in the last century to lose reelection, and Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight elections, stretching back to 1992. Therefore, Biden must lean into his progressive agenda, including sweeping climate change reform and COVID-19 stimulus, rather than making needless concessions to the right.
Remember: the election only seemed close because a) the electoral college gives undue power to a small, unrepresentative section of America and b) Republican-controlled legislatures in the rust belt states ensured that the Biden-heavy mail-in ballots would be counted last, giving the illusion of a close race over the last week despite Biden’s now sizable margins.
The fact that Republicans are likely to hold at least 50 seats in the Senate is not a reflection of the people’s will, but rather the deeply unjust structure of the chamber itself. The Senate has always favored small states by design, but shifting demographics have made small states increasingly friendly for Republicans, which means that Democrats will represent at least 20 million more Americans than Republicans in the new Senate – or 40 million if they pick up both Georgia seats in the January runoff. This trend is only expected to worsen: by 2040, half of the country will control 84 Senate seats, with younger, more diverse, more Democratic voters relegated to a permanent minority.
Still, Republican Senators are acting like they now have wide latitude to block any meaningful Biden agenda. Senator Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he will block any Cabinet picks he dislikes, and Senator Lindsey Graham has revived the Republican boogeyman of deficits, despite voting to give trillions in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations under Trump.
Voters also demonstrated their overwhelming support for Democratic policy priorities, further bolstering Biden’s sweeping mandate. A Florida amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour passed with over 60% of the vote. Five states and the District of Columbia eased restrictions on drugs. Arizona voters approved a tax surcharge on the wealthy in order to increase education funding. California voted to re-enfranchise folks on parole. When the people get a direct say, they support progressive policies, and Biden shouldn’t forget that.
Meanwhile, Democrats must not overlook the fact that Trump and the GOP have refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory. Republicans’ baseless claims of widespread fraud – which themselves are destructive to our democracy – also lay the groundwork to erode voting rights in the coming years, encouraged by an even friendlier Supreme Court. These disturbing attacks are destabilizing and could have pernicious, long-lasting consequences in the years to come, so that means we’ve all got to stay vigilant and prepare to fight back.
Lastly, BIPOC grassroots organizers powered Biden to victory, and he must thank them by uplifting those communities rather selling out his coalition’s most faithful voters in the ill-fated pursuit of bipartisanship. There is no value in finding “common ground” when Republicans are actively contesting the election results and blocking the most basic legislation like raising the minimum wage or a comprehensive COVID package.
Biden’s agenda is popular. Progressive policies are popular. The American people have voted conclusively to hand Biden the reigns of executive power and to rebuke the last four years of hate and hurt. The stakes are high – President-elect Biden must wield that power boldly, as he begins the slow but necessary process of repairing our country.