By Robert Scott
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
We live in strange times. It is not strange because the incumbent President was defeated; anyone my age has seen the Presidency change party control seven previous times since they were old enough to vote. What is strange is that in every one of those seven times – whether transitioning from a Republican to a Democratic administration or the other way around – the outgoing administration helped to smooth the transition for the incoming one, so that the nation’s leadership turnover was a smooth one. This time, it’s different.
Among the differences in 2020 was the rise in absentee and early voting, made desirable if not indeed necessary here in South Carolina as elsewhere, by the COVID-19 pandemic. More people voted than ever before, both for President-Elect Biden in his successful run and in President Trump in his unsuccessful one. But the margin of victory, in the end, was not close. Officially now that the count has ended, Biden gleaned a record 80 million votes, with an overall popular margin of over 7 million votes. Of course, as has been shown twice in the preceding six elections, it is possible to lose the popular vote and still win where it counts: in the Electoral College. Among the ironies in this year’s election is that the Electoral College margin that President Trump lauded as a “landslide” when he won in 2016, is exactly the same margin that President-Elect Biden won by in 2020. But there is even more to the story.
The Biden-Harris ticket received not only a large majority of the popular vote, they won 51 percent of the votes cast. That might not sound like an overwhelming margin, but let’s place it into context. It is the largest vote percentage obtained against an incumbent President since Herbert Hoover lost his bid for reelection in 1932, almost ninety years ago. Winning with a margin of 51 percent has not happened in any Presidential election since 1988, when George H. W. Bush successfully ran as the incumbent Vice President, succeeding President Reagan. It is worth noting that when he himself ran for re-election four years later, Bush lost to (then) Arkansas Governor Clinton by a margin smaller than the one propelling Biden into the Presidency this year.
Why is it important to consider not only who won, but by how much? Because it is important to note that the 2020 election represents the overwhelming verdict of American voters. President Trump won more votes than did President-Elect Biden in South Carolina, and the contest in Georgia and several other “swing states” was close but with Biden ending up with more votes; but nationwide, the results were not close at all. It was as if most of America stood up and shouted to the Trump administration, “Enough!”
Now is the time to leave partisanship behind and to recognize that, Republicans and Democrats, we are in this together. Let us encourage Congress to work together with President-Elect Biden to clean up the mess left by the Trump administration, to put the finishing touches on defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, to right our economy, and, truly, to Make America Great Again.