MANY column inches have been taken up with furious debate around the race for the White House. So many that it has been forgotten what a General Election means in the United States. Brits tend to think of a General Election as one vote. We elect Parliament, the majority Party in Parliament provides the Prime Minister, they are the winners. Job Done.
A US General Election though is at least 3 Elections rolled into one (that is if you don’t count the various state-level referenda which also takes place on the same day on a variety of issues). This is the starting point for the argument contained in the title. I am going to assume Joe Biden has won the White House for the purposes of not getting side-tracked. However, this was an empty, hollow victory for the Democrats because in every other regard they lost the Election. Three reasons exist for saying this:-
Trump increased his vote and broadened his base. Opinion polls prior to election day predicted a Biden landslide. It simply didn’t happen. Instead, Donald Trump actually increased the number of votes he got from 2016. As late as the 22nd of October, The New York Times was insisting that Trump’s base was shrinking “relentlessly”. However, he gained the most votes from ethnic minorities of any Republican since 1960. Despite relentless cat-calls from the media, despite being falsely branded a ‘racist’, he picked up support in Hispanic communities and, doubtless to the disgust of Black Lives Matter, he modestly increased his support from African-American men. In any other election, he would have done more than enough to win. Regardless of the eventual outcome, these people have now broken a taboo by voting Republican. They have done so once and with the right offer could do so again.
The Democrats LOST seats in the House Of Representatives. Americans often do this. They elect a President from one Party (in this case a Democrat) and then hand Congress to the other. The Democrats are still in control of the lower House but they had their majority slashed. They lost 5 seats and the Republicans gained 6 which leaves the Blue team on 218 seats and the Republicans on 201. 17 seats is alot but if they play their cards right, a strong mid-term swing in 2022 could see them within striking distance of controlling the House.
The Democrats FAILED to win control of the Senate. Control of the legislature is vital for any President but it’s not something they often get. The blue team needed to win 3 seats to take the Senate. At the time of writing, they only have won 1. Georgia will see a run-off race between Republican incumbent David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff and Democrat Raphael Warnock will face off with Kelly Loeffler in a two-pronged election two months from now. Perdue was ahead and so was Warnock. If the results in Georgia break the same way in two months’ time it will elect one Republican and one Democrat to the Senate and we will know they have failed. If both Democrats triumph however they will then take the Senate and control all three branches of Government. Then admittedly, it would be hard to say they have lost the election.
However, as things stand, if Georgia does not elect two Democrat Senators then the Republicans beat the Democrats 2-1 (made gains in the House and successfully defended the Senate). What is more, the underlying stats look good for the Republicans. By 2024 they could control all three branches of the Government themselves. Sleepy Joe may have won one battle for them but the war is far from over.