Reflecting on this outrageously tight United States election, it feels like voting for Trump was a secret for many
Since this article was published Joe Biden has become President-Elect.
The 'ayes' had it, Biden was already half-way to the White House, history was going to right itself. Did you know the arc of history bends towards justice? Trumpy doesn't. On 3 November 2020, he was supposed to be unceremoniously kicked from the White House in a landslide as voters woke up to his lies, incompetence and abysmal performance during COVID-19. Except that didn't happen.
The election is a nailbiter. Somewhere around two to three hours after counting began Trump was gaining big time. Trump became the odds-on favourite to win. He was ahead in big swing states - Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, etc. That wasn't how the story was meant to unfold. The polls ahead of the election were pointing only one way. Biden.
Poll aggregator 538 ran simulations picking Biden to win 89% of the time, but recognised that it was a fine line between a landslide and a close race. They gave the Democrats a 75% chance of taking control of the Senate and a 97% chance of retaining control of the House. The Economist was giving Biden a 97% chance to win the electoral college. So much for predictions.
Of course, these are probabilities so the pollsters recognised that there was always the chance that Trump was going to win. But really? Twice in four years? Surely he couldn't do it again.
Either voting Trump is a dirty secret for many with people reporting Biden in polls and Trump at the booth, the pollsters are wrong or it was dumb luck. Probably a bit each. There is also talk that Trump was more successful than expected at gathering the Latino vote.
Of course, it's not surprising if people feel they can't admit to voting for Trump. The first question that comes to mind is 'why on Earth would you do that!?'. It's difficult to openly talk about because he is such a divisive figure, and he and his voters are so openly ridiculed. The challenge is that people should feel like they can say they voted for Trump without getting attacked.
Being the United States' President isn't that appealing right now
The results so far are shocking, but not totally unexpected. The Democrat's failure to address real class issues needs to be addressed. They aren't offering enough to working-class Americans to swing the vote back. Biden is a centrist which is fine, but some leftist flare in the style of Bernie Sanders could help entice more of the working class to the Democrats.
Part of the issue seems to be the greater focus on identity politics. What does identity politics really have to offer the struggling working class? Not an awful lot. While equity issues around identity are important, they don't resonate with the economically disenfranchised.
American democracy needs renewal. Biden will have the chance to take steps in the right direction to help achieve that if he wins, but it's not a one-person-two-term job. It's a societal issue that requires action across many facets of domains. Institutional reform. Education. Healthcare. Infrastructure. Job creation. Significant reform is needed and the President will have their work cut out for them.
One thing's for sure, if Trump wins, there will be no steps towards renewal. Expect him to keep expanding the swamp with sycophants, and ongoing bullying of those he doesn't get along with. Expect deeper division and polarisation.
The votes are still rolling in with Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada and Pennsylvania yet to be called. Without a decisive early result, the United States faces days and potentially weeks of claims of voter fraud, the potential for a drawn-out court battle to decide who wins the election (rather than the voters), and massive civil unrest.
Whoever wins, and good God I hope its Biden, has a difficult road ahead. The underlying issues around polarisation and division will remain, regardless of the election outcome.
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