By Guido Lanfranchi.
While Joe Biden is now widely recognized as the United States’ president-elect, the 2020 Elections saga is not over yet. Alleging that the vote has been marred by fraud, President Trump has vowed to challenge the results in court. Moreover, the race for the control of the Senate is not over yet, with two seats to be allocated after a run-off in January. The elections saga thus continues, with major implications for the US and for the whole world.
A few days after Election Day on November 4th, the world finally got the news that it had been waiting for with growing impatience: the United States have a new president-elect. After an extremely tight race, observers and media outlets have eventually identified Joe Biden as the future President of the US – an outcome that will have to be officially confirmed by the Electoral College on December 14th. The Trump campaign, however, has not yet acknowledged this result. President Trump himself has repeatedly alleged that the vote has been marred by fraud. He has thus pledged to challenge the results in court – a process that, according to the original timeline of US elections, could drag until December 8th.
How did the situation come to this point? The 2020 round of elections in the United States was conducted under very special circumstances. Over the last months, the country has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only imposed certain changes to the electoral process, for instance in terms of increased use of early voting and mail ballots, but it has also exacerbated an already high degree of political polarization in the country.
It was against this backdrop that, at the conclusion of Election Day on November 4th, the ballots casted by US citizens started to be counted. While pre-election polls had portrayed Joe Biden as the favorite candidate, the initial results announced by the media saw Trump well-positioned to compete, thanks to his success in Florida, as well as to his good performance in a number of key states, such as Georgia and Pennsylvania. As the tallying proceeded, however, results started to favor Biden, who first gained Arizona (a longtime Republican state), and then conquered Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (three states that, albeit belonging to the so-called “Blue Wall” Democratic stronghold, had been won by Trump in 2016). In the wake of these successes, Biden was eventually identified as president-elect.
Yet, as of the time of writing the Trump campaign has not yet given up its fight. Since long before election day, Trump had been casting doubts over the election process, taking issue especially with mail ballots. In the wake of the vote, the President has repeatedly claimed that the election has been rigged against him, and he has vowed to take the issue to court. Yet, he has so far failed to provide convincing evidence, and some of the lawsuits presented by his campaign, such as those in Georgia and Michigan, have been quickly dismissed by judges. In the meanwhile, members of the Republican party have shown contrasting attitudes – some of them supporting the President’s claims, while others urging him to concede to his adversary’s success.
To add to the complexity of this round of elections, Trump’s accusations of electoral fraud are not the only issue that keeps the US political race open. On November 4th, many US citizens cast their ballots not only for the choice of the President, but also for that of members of Congress – which is currently split between the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, and the Republicans, who have a majority in the Senate. While the results available so far have not delivered a way out of this deadlock, the race remains open, as the results for the Senate hinge on two run-offs to be held in Georgia on January 5th.
Therefore, a few days after Election Day, the race for the control of political power in the United States remain extremely heated. The world might finally have a name for the new president-elect, but the political struggle in the United States is set to continue for the weeks to come.
About the author:
Guido Lanfranchi is an international affairs professional based in Den Haag, Netherlands. He studied at the Leiden University and Sciences Po Paris, and got with the Council of the European Union in Brussels. His research focuses on the EU, the Middle East and Africa.