Year In Review 2020: Election Season

President Donald J. Trump at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit Tuesday, Dec. 8.
(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead | Public Domain)

As expected, Election 2020 was one for the record books. Held under unprecedented pandemic conditions, the presidential-year contest drew a record turnout. By one count, 67 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, the highest since women won the suffrage in 1920. In addition, early and mail-in (absentee) voting set records as voters feared crowded polling places.

The mail-in votes proved decisive in numerous races, especially at the presidential level. While results on Election Day seemingly gave President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Pence victories in key states, absentee ballots reversed the outcomes. In some states, these ballots began to be counted as late as a week after Election Day, delaying final outcomes in many races.

Media called the election for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, on Nov. 7, when Pennsylvania put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to clinch. President Trump has yet to concede and has claimed widespread fraud.

His lawyers and supporters have fought, without success, to overturn votes in swing states. These attempts have been rebuffed by judges, even on the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. Most observers believe these claims lack credit, and the election was fair.

On Dec. 14, the 538 electors who made up the Electoral College officially cast their ballots, giving Biden a 306-232 victory. Ironically, it was the same margin by which Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton in 2016, even as he lost the popular count by more than 3 million votes.

In this year’s popular vote, Biden beat the president 81,268,867 (51.3 percent) to 74,216,747 (46.8 percent). Both figures easily eclipsed previous totals.

The Long Island state senators gather for a campaign ad. From left: Kevin Thomas, Monica Martinez, Todd Kaminsky, James Gaughran, Anna Kaplan and John Brooks. All, exception for Martinez, won their races this election year. (Contributed Photo)

Nassau County was a microcosm of the nation. Tallies on Election Day had the Trump/Pence ticket ahead by 6,518 votes. However, as county and state Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs pointed out, his party held a decisive edge in absentee ballots. In the end, about 150,000 of the close to 733,000 ballots cast in the county came via the mail. Final official results gave Biden a 396,504 (54.11 percent) to 326,716 (44.59) edge. This compares to the 51.3 to 45.9 percent win by Clinton in 2016.

Four years ago, Clinton won the state 58.8 to 37.5 percent. Biden slightly improved this total, 60.86 to 37.75 percent. Trump comfortably won Suffolk County by 11 points in 2016. This time around, he squeaked by with 232 votes.

The two parties split the four congressional races that make up the vast part of Long Island. Republican Lee Zeldin beat back a challenge in the 1st District, while retiring GOP Congressman Peter King was succeeded by Andrew Garbarino in the 2nd District. Democrat Kathleen Rice won a fourth term in the 4th, while Tom Suozzi, in the 3rd, overcame an Election Day lead by Republican opponent George Santos to win a third term.

The GOP had targeted the six Long Island state senators and charged them with being soft on crime on account of criminal justice reforms passed in the

2019 legislative session. However, they were able to oust just one, Monica Martinez of Suffolk County. John Brooks, Todd Kaminsky and Anna Kaplan won easily (Brooks ran unopposed). Kevin Thomas and James Gaughran were behind after Election Day tallies, but absentee ballots returned them to office.

Nationally, Republicans picked up seats in the House of Representatives and more importantly for shaping future legislative districts after the Census reapportionment, kept their decisive control of the majority of state legislatures. The party also seems poised to retain control of the Senate, needing to win just one of two races in the upcoming Georgia runoff election.

The GOP, according to exit polls, made gains among Latinos, African-Americans and Muslims, while the president reportedly bettered his 2016 totals with Black and Latino men and white women.

A number of Democratic party dreams, fueled by polls, confident predictions and perceived weaknesses in GOP ranks, did not come to pass: a landslide sweeping Trump from office and repudiating the president’s style and policies; recapturing the Senate; and turning Florida and Texas blue.

Asked about this disappointment by Anton Media Group, Jacobs replied, “I don’t know if it’s [lack of] persuasion on our part, but people bought into President Trump’s view of Democrats as bringing socialism, defunding the police and supporting rioters and looters. That was nonsense.”

By contrast, in his state senatorial candidates’ TV ads, he observed, “They faced the cameras and told the voters that it wasn’t the truth. And it worked. That’s what we needed to do.”

Frank Rizzo
Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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