2020 Presidential Election Recap

Opinion posted November 8, 2020 in CommRadio, News by Jake Starr

After messy election season, where does America go from here?

It was unconventional, sometimes messy and certainly historic. After what felt like the longest year ever, the 2020 Presidential Election is finally over.

Last Saturday, former Vice President Joe Biden and senator Kamala Harris clinched victory over President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Biden will be the 46th President of the United States, ending Trump’s presidency after just one term.

It was the first time an incumbent president lost since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Biden will become the oldest sworn-in president in history, which will certainly raise questions about his age. Harris will be the first female to ever hold one of the top-two offices, and the first person of color to be Vice President.

President Trump is not expected to go away swiftly, though. The president has made it clear he plans to fight the results.

It remains to be seen if there are any basis to those claims, but expectation is that Trump’s claims are nothing more than him delaying the obvious. It remains to be seen when the president will officially concede to Biden.

Usually, the transition is a period when the current president and president-elect will meet multiple times to discuss the office and the issues facing the nation. Nobody quite knows how Trump will approach this time period.

It also remains a question of how Trump will deal with the fact that he won’t be president after Jan. 20.

But whether the president accepts those results or not, Biden will be taking the Oath of Office in just ten weeks’ time. There is little doubt that Barack Obama’s Vice President will have tons of difficult tasks in front of him.

The Coronavirus pandemic isn’t getting any better as the United States continues to shatter records for daily cases. Biden will be tasked with controlling the pandemic, rebuilding the economy, addressing racial issues, and ultimately healing a broken nation.

People can debate all day long about how Trump addressed COVID-19, and how much of a role the president played in the nation’s divisions. But ultimately, both democrats and republicans played a huge role in the divisions we see currently.

Regardless of that, president-elect Biden will have the tough task of healing those political divisions. Both in our nation’s capital and around the country.

Another big question is where will President Trump go from here. It’s hard to imagine the now lame-duck president will simply exit the spotlight.

When you look at previous presidents, George W. Bush hasn’t been around much since leaving office and Barack Obama continues to make his voice heard within the political landscape, but not to a level in which we could foresee Trump doing it.

Trump could easily return to Mar-a-Lago and live out the rest of his life there, out of the public eye. Or, he could regain control of his companies and return to his businessman state he was before running for president.

The most likely scenario seems to be Trump continues to tweet throughout the Biden presidency, remains in the public eye in terms of television appearances, holds some more rallies, and maybe even toys with a presidential run in 2024.

That last one might seem unlikely, but would it really surprise anyone? It’s worth noting only one president has been elected to two non-consecutive terms, and that was Grover Cleveland.

Could Trump make an attempt at that? Who really knows?

The republican party, however, may want to disassociate from Trump as quickly as possible. The more he drags out his fight of the election results, the worse it makes the party look if they continue to back him.

For the republicans, their best bet is Trump fades away and doesn’t attempt another run in 2024.

Where does the republican party go from here?

It seems like Trump’s run brought energy back to the party that they hadn’t had in a long time. Over 70 million people voted for the president in this election.

That energy wasn’t there for John McCain and Mitt Romney, in 2008 and 2012 respectively. The key question will be how the party will maintain that energy in a post-Trump situation.

When you look at the election results, the republican party shouldn’t have much to worry about. If they can keep the 70 million people who voted for Trump in this election and win back the moderates and lean conservatives who opted for Biden in the 2024 cycle, then that should be a close race.

But as the nationwide demographics continue to shift, the post-Trump republicans must continue to adapt as well. How will they adapt over the next four years could determine how likely the party will be in recapturing the White House in 2024.

They’ve made inroads in the House and should maintain the Senate, but still have a lot of work to do moving forward.

Who will challenge Biden and Harris in 2024? There are a lot of names to consider, such as Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. It’s obviously way too early to predict who the parties’ frontrunner will be four years down the road.

For the democrats, even though they recaptured the White House, they still have a lot of questions to answer as well. It seems to be a party that is conflicted on whether to move further left towards a Bernie Sanders’ agenda or stay moderate and not risk losing a lot of the former republicans and moderates who voted for Biden this year. That is a fine line the party will have to walk.

Biden promised to be a president for all Americans and that is a statement that many on both sides will hold him to. How will he please the more progressive individuals who voted for him, while not displeasing the conservatives who stepped away from Trump to vote for the president-elect.

If Biden and Harris shift too far to the left, they’ll risk losing many moderates to the republican party in 2024. But, if they try to please the right too much, it could pose a chance of a more progressive candidate trying to unseat Biden in four years. These are all nothing but speculation, but certainly questions worth considering.

Ultimately, one of the bigger reasons why Biden won is because his demeanor is much calmer than Trump’s and many saw him as more of a unifier than the president. Perhaps, Biden’s biggest goal will be to come through on that message on unity.

It remains to be seen how Biden plans on reaching this goal of unity. But ultimately, it will take every American believing in the president-elect and working together for Biden’s goal of unity to become a reality. 

If this election cycle has taught us anything, it’s that it’s really hard to accomplish much as a country when it’s divided. There are a lot of issues that must be addressed moving forward and regardless of whether you like the person in office or not, the only way to achieve those goals is to come behind president-elect Biden.

Jake Starr is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jas7954@psu.edu.