The culmination of the US presidential election was viscidly slow and chillingly exciting. Joe Biden achieved a narrow victory with a lead of more than four million votes. Donald Trump fell, but “Trumpism” is alive and well. The new president will inherit a country divided to the bone and a laundry list of enormous challenges in January.
Sticky counting under high voltage
Investigators, other political analysts and the media were more cautious about the polls and election models during the campaign, the 2016 debacle still fresh in our minds. In addition, it was anticipated that the counting could take longer than usual.
Nevertheless, especially in the Democratic camp, the expectation arose that Biden would already take the overall victory on the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. Difficult questions have to be answered about this during the review.
As Election Night progressed, that prospect faded from view and it became clear that a dragging journey would follow. The swing states stayed for hours too close to call, until Ohio fell into Trump’s basket and Florida followed shortly after dawn in the Netherlands.
Trump appeared to have made significant progress among Latin American voters in the latter state, where he performed 11 percentage points better than in 2016. His campaign had invested heavily in recent months in improving his position with that voter group .
Trump’s specter that Democrats are degenerate socialists has proved effective among Cuban and Venezuelan Americans, who have bad memories of far-left regimes in their countries of origin.
The turnout was huge before November 3. More than 100 million Americans cast an early vote. In many states, the options for early or postal voting were expanded, but not all states had the same rules. Whereas in Florida, for example, those votes could be counted from 22 days before election day, in Pennsylvania this was only allowed from Tuesday, November 3.
With more Democratic voters voting by mail and more Republicans traditionally going to the polls, the proportions in the results were less even than usual.
In most swing states, the votes of ‘election day voters’ were counted earlier than those of ‘letter voters’, which led to a distorted picture. President Trump usually started with a big lead, which was gradually cut short by Biden in the days that followed. However, that was not the case everywhere: in Arizona it was precisely the Republican who gradually approached his leading rival.
The sticky counting trend, in combination with the deep political division in the US, created an atmosphere of high tension. Everyone was waiting for minor digit updates from five states: Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina to the east, and Arizona and Nevada to the west.
As of Wednesday, ongoing trends in the numbers pointed to a win for Biden, and the number of possible routes Trump had to secure his reelection became smaller. But even with the results in sight, the trek there remained a test of stamina.