On election night and the painful week of counting afterward, a narrative took hold that Joe Biden took 2020 in a squeaker.
But that’s not reality. And as the final votes are being counted, the “red mirage” has vanished to reveal a blue mandate for President-Elect Joe Biden.
Biden has not only won, he’s done so in historic fashion, now reaching a record 80 million votes, with still more to count. That is more than 10 million more votes than the previous popular-vote record-setting winner, Barack Obama, who secured 69 million votes in his victory over John McCain in 2008. Donald Trump, we can recognize, also sparked record-setting turnout for a loser, with nearly 74 million votes. But lose he did — now by more than 6 million votes — or greater than the popular vote deficit suffered by Mitt Romney, who conceded to the victorious Barack Obama on election night in 2012. At 51 percent, Biden’s share of the vote is the highest of any presidential challenger since FDR ousted Herbert Hoover in 1932.
Biden’s victory total is so large, and in some ways unexpected, it’s a bit challenging to take in. Who could have predicted that Joe Biden — Joe Biden, who has run and lost campaigns for president since 1988 — would end up finally achieving victory by absolutely swamping the high-water mark set by his former top-of-the-ticket running mate and political rock-star, Obama. Consider that when all the votes are counted, Biden could double the vote count received by Jimmy Carter when he won the White House in 1976 (40.8 million), despite the nation’s population being only 50 percent bigger (330 million compared to 218 million).
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The Electoral College is where White House winners are decided, and here too the result appears to be resounding — 306-223 — the same margin Trump himself described as a “landslide” when it was his victory tally in 2016. Biden’s margin of victory in the Midwest states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin was much larger than Trump’s four years ago. Biden won the trio by nearly 260,000 votes, more than three times Trump’s margin of roughly 80,000 in the same states.
Of the three, only Wisconsin was particularly close (with a 20,000-vote Biden margin, now subject to a partial recount unlikely to meaningfully change the numbers). And Biden has padded his Electoral College win with narrow victories in the longtime GOP strongholds of Arizona and Georgia — states no Democrat had carried since Bill Clinton.
The decisiveness of the outcome makes plain that not only is Donald Trump’s refusal to concede equal parts petulant and absurd, but that Biden has been given a mandate to implement his platform — to restore America’s democratic norms, to tackle the compounding health and economic disasters created by the coronavirus pandemic, to root out systemic racism and to respond boldly to the climate crisis.
With Biden reaching this new historic marker, it is far past time for Trump to end his delusional fight against electoral reality. And time to take the measure of Biden’s landslide win — and the political capital that goes with it.