Home Election 2020 The Counter Opinion: Post-election 2020 reflections

The Counter Opinion: Post-election 2020 reflections

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On Saturday, Nov. 7, media outlets covering the presidential election results declared Pennsylvania a win for former Vice President Joe Biden, pushing him past 270 electoral votes and making him the president-elect. The main headline on the New York Times’ election 2020 live news site sums up the current situation across the country: “Biden Wins Presidency. Democrats Rejoice. Republicans Disbelieve.”

From state capitols to towns in Europe, people are gathering to rejoice or protest the results. The members of the Electoral College, however, do not cast their votes until Dec. 14. There will also be multiple lawsuits from the Trump administration before Inauguration Day.

In Ohio, Republican Rep. Steve Stivers won re-election to his sixth term as a representative in the U.S. House of Representatives with 63.44% of the vote, beating out his challenger, Democrat Joel Newby, who garnered 36.56% of the vote. Stivers represents the 15th Congressional District in Ohio, which includes Athens County.

We asked our opinion writers about their thoughts leading up to Biden’s win, his eventual victory, and the race between Newby and Stivers. Contributing are Justin Thompson, a senior journalism major, Bryce Hoehn, a senior political science major and Charlotte Caldwell, a junior journalism major.

Please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political.

Was there a specific state that you were watching while the presidential results were coming in that surprised you?

Justin: I was watching Arizona closely all night. The normally reliable Republican stronghold had wavered between red and blue in pre-election forecasts, and its 11 electoral votes were always going to be vital to the election’s outcome. Biden is leading in the state by a little under a percentage point, and some news organizations have yet to call it a win. In doing so, he denied President Trump a piece of the map that he absolutely needed to win. The national blue wave did not crest like some pundits predicted, but a blue trickle was all Biden needed to get ahead in states like Arizona and bolster his presidential hopes.

Bryce: I had no idea how this election was going to go prior to the end of the week. I always anticipated Biden getting more votes but had no clue what would happen in the electoral college, so I guess I was not particularly surprised by any specific state. That said, it was disappointing to see that so many big potential swing states, such as Ohio, Florida and Texas, all stayed red and that the swing states that did go to Biden only did so by razor-thin margins. While I am glad that Biden won, it should not be this close after the past 4 years. And I fear that if Democrats keep up their strategy of appealing to moderate Republicans like John Kasich rather than pursuing policies popular with the left like Medicare for All, they will not hold onto power for long now that they can no longer run in contrast to Trump.

Charlotte: Georgia was unsurprising on election night because it was initially leaning toward Trump, and the state has consistently voted for Republicans since 1992. After a couple of days and the end of the counting drew near, however, Georgia unexpectedly flipped blue, and now Biden is leading by a little over 9,000 votes. There were at least seven states that the media was hesitant to call because the races were as close as Georgia’s. 

While Georgia was surprising, Ohio was not. Ohio used to be a prominent swing state, but now the state election map is starting to look as it did in 1972. Only the counties containing big cities, like Cuyahoga and Franklin, as well as Athens County, are consistently blue, and the rest are usually red. Trump won by a wide margin in Ohio this election, so it may be safe to say that Ohio is no longer a swing state.

Did you believe Joel Newby, the losing candidate for Ohio’s District 15 U.S. House of Representatives race, had a chance to win?

Justin: Newby would have needed a true “blue wave” of support to pull the upset on Stivers, the five-term incumbent. That wave never materialized. During the campaign, Stivers was able to tout his track record of bipartisanship and lean on his experience in Congress. Newby lacked the name recognition and financial support to compete with Stivers, and a landslide loss proved difficult to avoid.

Bryce: Due to Ohio’s extreme pro-Republican gerrymandering, I do not think it was possible for anyone to flip this district. In fact, not a single Congressional district has been flipped in all of Ohio since the current map was adopted in 2012. I previously criticized Newby for his messaging on Medicare for All and the Green New Deal following his Congressional debate, and while I still believe taking a more solid stance on these issues would have helped his campaign, the race was basically rigged from the start. The next map is supposed to be drawn in 2022 following this year’s census, and hopefully the redistricting reform initiative ballot measure will prevent it from being as gerrymandered as the current one.

Charlotte: In Athens County, Newby received over 3,000 more votes than Stivers. Unfortunately, being the blue county in a sea of red, Athens County did not matter for this race. This is the last election for the current gerrymandered map, so hopefully by the next election things will look different and candidates like Newby may stand a chance.

On a scale of one (low) to 10 (high), where has your election anxiety fallen pre-results versus post-results?

Justin: As of Thursday, I was at a seven, and Nevada was threatening to push it up a few notches. My stress-o-meter was ready to explode when I went to sleep on Tuesday night, but things have steadied since then. If the waiting would have gone on much longer, I would have touched double digits.

Bryce: I was at a solid 10 for about a week leading up to the election, which held for most of election night, but now that Biden has been confirmed as the winner, I would say I am down to about a four. I anticipated Biden winning more votes, but I feared he could narrowly lose through the Electoral College or that Trump would contest the results in the Republican-controlled Supreme Court. Fortunately, it seems that Biden narrowly pulled through in enough key states to win, and while Trump is trying to contest the results, it does not seem to be working. I also feared the threat of right-wing terrorist groups, such as the Proud Boys, from violently interfering and intimidating voters on Election Day, but fortunately, this did not seem to happen on any wide or effective scale. So far the only major right-wing response I have seen is pro-Trump protests across the country. These protests, some demanding poll workers to stop counting votes, are an embarrassment to our democracy, but so far they have not turned violent in the way I feared.

Now I am still anxious about how Biden will govern and what the Democrats can do if they lose the senate. As a progressive, I am concerned about rumors of Biden considering appointing Republicans into his cabinet, and I am worried that he may try to undermine the progressive wing of the party by ignoring their demands or supporting moderate congressional challengers over progressive ones. There are still a lot of issues I agree with Biden on such as increasing the minimum wage and addressing climate change, but none of this legislation can pass without maintaining the House and winning the Senate, both of which the Democrats underperformed in this election.

Charlotte: As I watched the rest of the country freak out, I was only at about three because it did not really matter to me who won — each candidate would amount to a dismal next four years. Now that the celebrations for Biden are occurring, I would put it at seven. While Biden always mentions his coronavirus course of action, the American people will probably not hear anything out of him or Kamala Harris denouncing the potential superspreader events around the country. While I do not support completely shutting the country down again, there are precautions that can be taken to combat the spread, and these events are not it.

Based on how the presidential election map looks right now, what are your thoughts?

Justin: It is looking more and more likely that Biden will be America’s next president. He has taken the lead in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia, three states where he steadily closed the gap on Trump as mail-in ballots continued to be counted. Additionally, most of the ballots left to be counted in those states come from reliably blue, urban counties. Trump’s path to reelection is much narrower. He would have needed every state that was still up for grabs at the time — Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina — to win another term.  

Bryce: At this point, I can confidently say that Biden has won. He took the lead in Pennsylvania, which was enough to call the race. While the margins in states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia are much lower than they should be after these past four years, most of the remaining ballots seemed to be from predominantly Democratic areas. The chance that Trump could catch up in any of these three states — let alone all of them — was nearly impossible. That said, I appreciate Biden and the cable news networks for exercising patience, as an early call would have destabilized the nation even further. Every vote should be counted before any official call is made, but now that the race has been called, Trump has seemingly no legitimate path toward re-election.

Charlotte: Judging by the American people’s votes, Biden has the win secured. Looking back at the 2016 election, however, shows that the popular vote does not always reflect the winner. It is now all up to the Electoral College and the multiple Trump administration lawsuits that probably will not go anywhere. 

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