November 3 was arguably the most anticipated day of the year: election night in America. With a tumultuous four years in office and an unprecedented pandemic emerging this year, it has been an interesting time for politics and governance in the United States. Party lines were being drawn deeper in the ground, and ideological divisions were resurfacing with vigour.
On Saturday, November 7, Joe Biden was officially announced as the 46th president of the United States of America. Suffice it to say, the 2020 elections had everyone on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out who the next commander-in-chief will be. Leading up to the election, polls were showing Biden up 10 points to Trump nationally, predicting a victory for the Democratic party.
However, there were some complexities surrounding this election due to the composition of votes expected for each party. For months prior to the election, President Donald Trump was discussing the potential of voter fraud from mail-in voting, encouraging his supporters to go vote in person on November 3. Democrats were more inclined to participate in early and mail-in voting, which were counted after all the in-person votes on election day. Due to this discrepancy, we witnessed a dynamic reporting of votes since Tuesday.
In the U.S. electoral system, the winning candidate needs to secure 270 electoral votes to win the Presidency. Trump showed an early lead, with Republican votes accounting for the bulk of the in-person votes counted first. There were impressive victories by the Republican Party in the key states of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and the bulk of the middle and southern States.
Trump also held initial leads in the crucial states of Pennsylvania and Georgia; however, these were closed in on and finally taken over by Biden on Friday. Likewise, Nevada proved to be a nail-bitter, showing a small but steady lead for Biden, with slow reporting of votes. Biden also took over the lead in Arizona, marking the first democratic victory in the state in 24 years. After Pennsylvania’s call of a Democrat victory on Saturday, Biden was finally able to secure the seats needed.
While Biden had the popular vote, and secured the Electoral College, the neck-to-neck election results only amplified the deep political divide within the country. President Trump has been insinuating potential voter interference and fraud for months leading up to the election, with the Republican Party now involved in lawsuits regarding vote counting. The majority of these cases center around Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan. Pennsylvania and Georgia were crucial states that were required for a Republican win, while Michigan proved to be a surprise with a blue victory.
There was also a dichotomy in rhetoric from each candidate surrounding the vote counts as well, with President Trump tweeting ‘STOP THE COUNT!’ on November 5, as his lead in many expected states started to dwindle. In an impromptu press conference held at the White House on the same day, referring to the Biden campaign, Trump said, “This is a case where they’re trying to steal an election, they’re trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for, “every legal vote” to be counted, a sentiment echoed by many other Republican Party members. In response to the claims on vote counts, Joe Biden has called for due process and counting of every vote casted. “My fellow Americans, we don’t have a final declaration of victory yet, but the numbers… tell us a clear and convincing story,” stated Biden in a press conference on November 6. “We’re going to win this race.”
The division of ideologies and sentiments in the country appear to be a much bigger issue than vote counts. Race relations are heightened, gender issues are once again brought to the forefront, the judicial and public service sectors are being fought for. On top of this, there is a split in opinion and approach to the Covid-19 pandemic. With the majority of Democrats being pro-distancing and masks, there is a push-back from the other end on the imposing restrictions.
These ideas are also sweeping into our communities here in Canada, with anti-mask rallies being held at the Yonge-Dundas square, attended by thousands. The rally held on October 31, included many people flying “Trump Pence 2020” flags and wearing the archetypal red hats with the slogan “Make America Great Again”.
Canada’s political, economic, and social culture is closely intertwined and affected by the proceedings in the US. We are the largest trading partners and allies with our neighbour down south, making this election extremely important for us as well. As evident, many of the movements and social issues happening in America find a way up north shortly after.
We’ve also seen heavier mandates being imposed by the Trump administration on trade from China and other countries. What took many by surprise, however, was the attempt to place tariffs on Canadian aluminum earlier this year, which were then dropped.
This grueling race also has many concerns regarding possible protests and riots. On election day, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke regarding the Canadian response, “it is absolutely a responsibility of our government to be there for Canadians outside our country, and we will be there for them, too,” stated Freeland. “Our federal government is absolutely ready. We have thoughtfully prepared for all eventualities.”
Despite the Democratic victory declared Saturday afternoon, the road to the new presidency is still a long one, with the Trump administration prepared to file several appeals and vote recounts in many of the crucial states. These suits could make the journey to the Supreme Court, making it possible that the final results be delayed by weeks. Suffice it to say, Canadians, alongside the rest of the world, will have their eyes on the United States for the near future, waiting and watching.