2020 Elections: Biden wins presidency
After several days of tense anticipation nationwide, on Saturday morning the Associated Press called the presidential race in favor of Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joseph Biden, Jr. and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris. Due to the unabatedly raging COVID-19 pandemic across the U.S., a record number of mail-in and absentee ballots were cast prior to Nov. 3 and were counted in the following days. For several days, Biden was sitting at 264 electoral votes, just six votes shy of the 270 required to win the electoral college. But on Saturday morning, the AP and several other reputable news outlets determined that Biden had won the 20 electoral votes of Pennsylvania with 49.8 percent of the vote, narrowly beating incumbent Trump by 0.7 percent, according to the AP. The only races still not being called to date are Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska.
As of Monday, Nov. 9, Biden has continued to grow his lead, garnering 290 electoral votes to Trump’s 214.
The 2020 presidential election saw record voter turn-out. Biden has received the most votes out of any presidential candidate in history, and Trump received the most for any sitting president. Unlike the 2016 presidential election in which Trump won the election without the popular vote, Biden has 50.8 percent of the popular vote to Trump’s 47.5 percent.
On Saturday afternoon, Biden and Harris addressed the country for the first time as president-elect and vice-president elect from Wilmington, Delaware. Biden sent a message of unity and healing for the country. “Now let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” he said. Biden encouraged people to work across partisan lines and stated that he would be the president for all Americans. Harris, who will be the first female vice president as well as the first Black and South Asian vice president, told a cheering crowd that this is a “country of possibilities.” She opened her speech quoting the late Congressman John Lewis who said “Democracy is not a state. It is an act.”
“And what he meant was that America’s democracy is not guaranteed,” she said. “It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it and never take it for granted. And protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it, and there is progress. Because we the people have the power to build a better future.”
Harris, dressed in suffragette white, acknowledged the hard work and determination of generations of women who paved the way for her to stand on the stage. She acknowledged her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris. “When she came here from India at the age of 19, she maybe didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible. And so, I’m thinking about her and about the generations of women — Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight.”
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” she said.
The Biden team launched a website detailing the president-elect’s plans as soon as he assumes office. The administration’s four priorities are: a systemic approach to control the COVID-19 pandemic, foster economic recovery, racial equity and climate change.
Trump has so far refused to concede and continues to make unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. He currently has filed several lawsuits in multiple states challenging the results of the election. In addition to the ongoing lawsuits, the election is not officially finalized as three state including Alaska, have not yet been called.
About 40 percent of Alaska’s ballots have not yet been counted, but the state’s three electoral college votes will mostly likely go to Trump. Preliminary results show Trump has a sizable lead. Alaska has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. The margin is expected to narrow after absentee ballots are counted, but Trump received nearly 62 percent of the vote statewide, while Biden took about 33 percent.
Alaska’s overall results do not reflect the Nome region, however. In House District 39, the result reflects the opposite: Biden garnered about 60 percent of the vote, while Trump got roughly 32 percent. In Nome itself, the results were split nearly evenly. Biden narrowly won, with 47 percent of the vote to Trump’s 44 percent. Again, this is before absentee ballots were counted.
The presidential election result reflects a general trend: On a state level, Alaska voted predominately Republican, House District 39 voted predominantly Democratic, and the two Nome precincts falls in between the two, but generally lean slightly Democratic.
As per a newly implemented Alaska Division of Elections security policy, over 156,000 ballots will not begin to be counted until a week after the election, 130,000 of those being absentee ballots. However, even without these ballots Alaskans can still have some insight into how races will play out. Here is where things stand before these votes are accounted for, as well as what Alaskans can expect as these ballots are accounted for.
Preliminary results statewide overwhelmingly favor Republican candidates, a phenomenon known as the “red mirage.” The country saw a trend both nationwide and in Alaska that absentee ballots tend to be Democratic, while predominantly Republican voters visited the polls in person. Therefore, as absentee ballots are tallied, results often shift to Democrats. This means that if a Republican candidate is behind before absentee ballots are counted, it is unlikely that they will catch up. Moreover, what is also important is the size of the lead compared to the number of uncounted ballots. In some races, a candidate is leading by a margin large enough that they are untouchable, even if all other votes go toward the other candidate.
In the congressional races, it appears that incumbent Republicans U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan and U.S. Representative Don Young have managed to fend off their challengers, Al Gross and Alyse Galvin, both independents who received the Democratic nomination. Gross’s race in particular received national attention and funding, as Democrats viewed it as a potential opportunity to flip a seat and achieve majority in the Senate. Gross was also endorsed by the Lincoln Project, a political action committee of Republicans against Trump and “Trump enablers” such as Sen. Sullivan.
Before absentee ballots were counted in Alaska, Sullivan was leading with 62 percent of the vote to Gross’32 percent. The Alaska Independence Party candidate John Wayne Howe received roughly five and a half percent of the vote. In House District 39, the race between Sullivan and Gross was close: Gross won with 45 percent of the vote, while Sullivan received 41 percent. Howe received 13 percent. Sullivan won Nome by a significant margin, with 52 percent to Gross’s 37 percent. Howe garnered almost 10 percent of the vote.
Congressman Don Young, in his 22nd run for the House of Representatives, received 63 percent of the Alaska vote, while challenger Alyse Galvin received about 36 percent. The race between Young and Galvin was tight in HD 39. Galvin won with 50 percent of the vote, while Young received 49 percent. In Nome, Young had a slight advantage on Galvin, garnering about 52 percent of the vote to Galvin’s roughly 47 percent.
Both margins will likely tighten as absentee ballots are accounted for. In both races, it seems theoretically possible that a shakeup could occur. About 130,000 absentee ballots have yet to be counted, and most of these are predicted to go to Democratic candidates.
As of Tuesday, Sullivan is leading Gross by 57,616 votes. Young is leading Galvin by 50,325 votes. If Gross and Galvin are able to get the majority of the absentee ballots, roughly 70 percent, the challengers may be able to surpass their incumbent candidates.
Alaskans also voted on two ballot measures. As of press time, with absentee ballots unaccounted for, they were rejected by the voters. As it stands, 65 percent of Alaskans voted against Ballot Measure 1, which would increase oil taxes and 56 percent voted against Ballot Measure 2, an election reform proposal. Statewide results were reflected in HD 39, where 61 percent voted against the oil tax reform measure and roughly 39 voted for the measure. In Nome, the results were closer: 56 percent voted no, while 43 percent voted for the measure.
Whereas the opinion on ballot measure 1 in the region is similar to the sentiment statewide, HD 39 differed from the overall vote on ballot measure 2. In HD 39, 60 percent voted for the election reform, while about 42 percent voted against. In Nome, 53 percent voted for and about 46 percent voted against the initiative.
Two races which are more certain are those in HD 39 and Senate District T, where both members of the region’s state delegation have unofficially won their races. Incumbent Democrats Representative Neal Foster and Senator Donny Olson are leading their challengers by substantial margins. Both Foster and Olson have over 60 percent of the vote, a proportion of the vote that outnumbers the yet-to-be counted absentee ballots.
Foster, a Democrat from Nome, was able to hold on to his seat against challenges from Nome Republican Dan Holmes and a write-in campaign waged by Tyler Ivanoff, of Shishmaref, also a Democrat. Ivanoff narrowly lost to Foster in the Democratic primary last August. Write-ins comprised 19 percent of the vote in HD 39. Without absentee ballots, Foster garnered 63 percent of the vote, while Holmes has 17 percent. About 500 absentee and early voting ballots have yet to be counted, but Foster has a lead of more than 2,000 votes on both Holmes and Ivanoff. Foster garnered about 50 percent of the vote in Nome, Holmes received about 30 percent and Ivanoff roughly 17 percent.
Olson, a Democrat from Golovin, also has unofficially maintained his seat against challenger Thomas Baker, a Kotzebue Republican. Olson currently has 64 percent of the vote, while Baker has 34 percent. About 1,000 ballots From District T need to be counted, but Olson leads by 2,164 votes. Olson received about 62 percent of the Nome vote while Baker got roughly 36 percent.