The results of the 2020 presidential and congressional elections were met with polarized opinion. Photo by Kevin Doan.

Opinion

Opinion: The 2020 election — a letdown for both parties

The 2020 presidential and congressional elections have been a let down for both parties.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/tdsondy/" target="_self">Tyler Sonderholzer</a>

Tyler Sonderholzer

December 11, 2020

The 2020 election has been a letdown for both parties — the presidential election for Republicans and the congressional election for Democrats. Some people have accepted the results while others haven’t, claiming voter fraud.

Like most Americans, I was nervous going into election night and was glued to my TV as the results came in. I was hoping President Donald Trump would win re-election as I consider myself a Republican. While I am bummed that Trump lost, I am happy about Republicans’ performance in the House and Senate elections. I believe Trump should concede the election and start to work with President-elect Joe Biden to have a safe transition of power.

While the results, at first, looked good for Trump as he was leading in all the critical states, the mail-in vote started to come in. Biden started to make gains in his losing states and eventually came back and won them. The reason: Trump won the in-person vote, meaning he got most of the votes of people that voted in person. Biden won the mail-in voting, meaning he got a majority of the early voting and all mail-in votes.

In-person votes are counted before the mail-in votes, which made things look good for Trump; however, the mail-in vote hadn’t been counted and when it was, Biden made a strong comeback. Pennsylvania is a good example of this, where President Trump won two of every three votes that were cast in person and Biden won three of four mail-in ballots.

Although Biden won the presidential election, Trump and several of his allies started throwing around the idea of voter fraud, which at first is something believable and highlighted some of Biden’s gains in Michigan and other states. It gave Republicans some hope that President Trump might actually win once it is uncovered.

However, there is no proof of widespread fraud, and it is just a grab to stay in power and pray that Trump will win through the courts. If there is voter fraud, it is only minimal and it is not enough to change the outcome of the election. Trump has even fired those who disagree with his claims, which shows how far he has gone with his claims.

While things are looking bleak for Trump’s legal team, they could just keep appealing the cases they lose to a higher court and eventually reaching the Supreme Court where it is a 6-3 conservative majority in an attempt to overturn the lower courts’ decision. The team could just see their cases getting thrown out as part of the process and they know they have a backup plan.

One of the biggest mistakes of this election was when Team Trump’s Twitter account falsely declared that Trump had won the state of Pennsylvania even though his lead was shrinking. While Trump’s team has every right to investigate voter fraud as it could highlight some flaws in our voting process, it won’t succeed and it is just a last-ditch effort to stay in power.

His lawsuits are getting thrown out and rightfully so — there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and there certainly isn’t enough to change the election. Trump is setting a dangerous precedent by not conceding and could lead the democratic process down a dangerous road.

Both parties can agree that one of the most remarkable results of this election is the record voter turnout: 80 million for Biden and 73 million for Trump. This could be a good sign for voter turnout in the future as more than 26 million people voted in this election compared to the 2016 election. Being able to vote is like a superpower: votes can shape the country for years to come.

Going into Election Night, most polls projected a “blue wave,” when there are overwhelming Democratic victories in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. While the general consensus was that Democrats would keep control of the House, it was projected that they would expand their majority and flip several seats Republicans held. It was also projected that Democrats would flip control of the Senate as well as potentially gain a majority.

For the House and Senate races, this election was a disaster for Democrats, who ended up losing 12 House seats with 11 of them being seats they had won in 2018 while no Republican lost reelection in the House. Democrats failed to live up to the projections and one of the reasons is because of the party’s push to the left.

This allowed Republicans to take advantage of this and hammer Democratic policies like “defund the police” in areas they lost in 2018. Even some moderate Democrats have sounded the alarm on the party’s shift to the left. If Democrats want to keep control of the House, they have to shift back towards the center and move away from the progressive policies.

Democrats also failed to win key Senate races in states that they were projected to win, such as in North Carolina where, at one point, the Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham, was once leading by 10%. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine was another seat Democrats were hoping to pick up as almost every poll had her opponent in the lead; however, Collins won reelection in a tough loss for Democrats.

Polling was a disaster this cycle, especially for Senate races and states like Ohio and Florida, where President Trump won with a solid margin of 8% in Ohio and a little less than 4% in Florida.

The control of the Senate hasn’t been decided yet because there are still two ongoing races in Georgia. Georgia law states that a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote to win the general election and, if they don’t get that, then the race goes to a runoff. Both Senate races in Georgia saw no candidate receive more than 50% so they will go to a runoff on Jan. 5, 2021.

The Senate is currently 50 Republicans to 48 Democrats and to have a majority in the Senate, a party needs 51 seats. Republicans just need to win one of the two remaining seats in order to have control. However, if Democrats win both seats in the Georgia runoffs, then the Senate will be tied and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris will have the tiebreaker, which will give Democrats control of the Senate.

If Republicans keep control of the Senate, then there is no clear winner of the election. While Biden won the presidency, his administration won’t have full control of Congress and it will be difficult to pass key items on his agenda such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.

If Democrats take control of the Senate, then they will have a difficult time trying to get their key legislation passed with their razor-thin majority. Not all Democrats will support these policies; for example, Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, has said he won’t support expanding the court, which has been a talking point for Democrats following the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.

With the current political state of the Democratic party, Republicans have a good shot of taking back the House in 2022 and either boosting their majority or potentially taking back the Senate.

Republicans are in a good position to be in for the future if Democrats continue to shift to the left and support radical policies like packing the court, defunding the police and Medicare for all—policies where Republicans can attack them. After all, some of the more moderate Democrats have pushed back on the progressives for their push to the left, where some have even called for leadership changes following their disastrous election results.

This shift to the left is also what made Republicans succeed in picking up some House seats and what helped Trump win Florida. Democrats need to go back towards the center if they want to succeed in the future, especially with the divide between the moderates and the progressives of the party.

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