Thinking Through the 2020 U.S. Election

The past few weeks have had more than their fair share of “through the looking glass” moments for scholars of U.S. politics. Donald Trump lost the presidential election, but not in the decisive way that many pollsters had predicted. And despite presiding over an historic economic collapse and a catastrophic response to a deadly global pandemic, he ended up losing while increasing the number of people voting for him, and increasing his margins among some unlikely constituencies, particularly Black and Latino men.

For his part, Joe Biden may have accomplished the daunting task of unseating an incumbent president, but he did not appear to have the electoral coattails that many anticipated. Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives, and depending on the outcome of two runoff elections in Georgia, the best-case scenario is a 50-50 split in the Senate, with Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote that would give Democrats control of the Senate by the slimmest of margins.

This was not the repudiation of Trump for which many on the Left were hoping. Clearly Trump retains a strong base of electoral support. Even more concerning, Trumpism as a set of politics shows no signs of waning.

The blind loyalty to Trump is on full display now, as he refuses to concede the election, citing evidence-free allegations of election tampering. His supporters continue to rally to “Stop the Steal,” while most Republican politicians refuse to say anything that might contradict Trump’s brazenly warped view of reality. Meanwhile his bumbling crew of sycophants and yes-men, led by Rudy Giuliani, are indulging Trump’s fantasies by filing frivolous lawsuit after lawsuit, attempting to have tens of thousands of valid ballots thrown out and the election overturned.

Even though these efforts are unlikely to lead anywhere, the sheer spectacle is breathtaking. It’s been a lot to take in.

Since election night on November 3, I have tried my best to make sense of the election and its broader implications. Below are links to some of those efforts.

There is still a lot to think about regarding the election, and I expect to be writing more about it in the weeks, months, and years ahead. So stay tuned for more.

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