A detailed analysis of the 2020 US Presidential Election

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Volunteer writer Maciek Anielski analyses the results of one of the most contentious elections in recent decades to find out exactly why Joe Biden won

The election is over. Biden has won 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 and has taken historically Republican states such as Arizona and Georgia with him.

Biden ran a decidedly boring campaign. He was rarely seen on the campaign trail, his policy proposals, although more radical than those of candidates before him, paled in comparison to those offered by Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primaries. He relied on a sense of nostalgia among the US electorate, a yearning to return to a time where the world was calmer, less angry and above all… normal.

Looking back, this was the perfect strategy. The news cycle was dominated by Trump. Trump fear-mongering about mail-in voting, Trump fear-mongering about Black Lives Matter, Trump fear-mongering about Joe Biden being a socialist. All the while Joe stood still in the background, channelling a sense of calm. He debunked Trump’s claims about voting, disavowed rioting and looting while reaching out to those affected by police brutality and reassured the public that his policy proposals were really quite sensible.

It provided a stark contrast to US citizens, between a volatile, hate-fueled, presidency and a bland non-threatening one. After months and months of protest, COVID-19, and a tiring election campaign, voters just wanted something normal and that is exactly what Joe Biden promised them.

What is less certain is the degree to which Biden’s win represents a strong rejection of Trump by the US population or a more permanent shift towards a divided America, where you are either a strong Democrat or a strong Republican with very little in between.

The simple conclusion that can be drawn from the data is that people took Trump more seriously this time around. A smaller proportion of Democrats voted for Trump, 5% as opposed to 9% in 2016, and independent support seemed to flip towards Biden, 54% as opposed to 42% in 2016.

Republicans, however, have become even more entrenched in their support, with the proportion of those voting for Trump rising by 4%.

It is clear that the last four years have seen increased partisanship, with more independents taking sides and both Democrats and Republicans solidifying their positions.

Turnout data seems to support the same hypothesis. Both candidates saw record-level turnout, with 78,678,763 voting for Biden as of this time, and 73,116,708 voting for Trump. This puts them at well above the 69,498,516 votes cast for Barack Obama in 2008. Trump beat his vote count in 2016 by approximately 6.5 million votes while Biden beat Hillary’s 2016 vote count by about 13 million.

What may be unnerving for the Democrats, however, is that they seemed not to change any minds. Trump’s base stayed solid and, in some cases, even expanded as compared to 2016. The only reasons Biden won this time around was the increased turnout among Democrat and Independent voters.

This can be starkly seen when looking at exit poll data for both 2016 and 2020. Trump’s vote proportion among Male and Female voters stayed the same between both years, 53% and 42% respectively. Biden, however, managed to turn out a higher proportion of Men, 45% compared to 41% in 2016, and Women, 57% compared with 54% in 2016.

Where Trump has done better than expected, is in his vote share among minorities. The proportion of Black and Latino Trump voters has increased respectively from 8% and 29% in 2016 to 12% and 32% in 2020. Whether or not this represents a shifting attitude towards Republicans among Black and Latino communities or a lack of enthusiasm among these groups for Biden is yet to be seen.

 

  2020 2016
Male 53   45 53   41
Female 42   57 42   54

 

  2020 2016
White 58   41 58   37
Black 12   87 08   88
Hispanic/Latino 32   65 29   65

 

  2020 2016
18-29 36   60 37   55
30-44 46   52 42   50
45-64 50   49 53   44
64+ 52   47 53   45

 

  2020 2016
Democrat 05   94 09   89
Republican 94   06 90   07
Independent 41   54 48   42

 

If any conclusions are to be drawn from this election, what should be kept in mind is that Trump supporters are here to stay. This is something that the Republican party will have to contend with when looking at their future election prospects. Will they adopt Trump’s manner and style going forward or will they attempt to move away from it in the hope that their voters will move with them?

How will Joe Biden govern a more deeply divided America? Will things really return to normal or is this the start of a political realignment in US politics?

We will be watching the next four years anxiously. The future of the world’s most powerful democracy is at stake.

 

Header by Christos Alamaniotis – Assistant Head of Design

Article edited by Connor Wade – Politics Editor

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