We won. Let’s act like it.
While the final votes are still being counted in the 2020 election, we know that Joe Biden has already secured a wide enough margin to be declared the winner. While the electoral results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona were close, the popular vote will not be. Based on where the outstanding ballots are, this election seems headed toward a Biden +4 victory.
Is this less than what many of the polls told us? Yes. In regards to state-polling in particular, pollsters clearly failed to learn the lessons of 2016. That said, when the dust settles, the national margin will likely be a normal-sized polling error.
Already though, the initial results are being used to score points in longstanding intra-party fights. While the center and progressive left held together remarkably well during this general election season, House Democrats and Twitter personalities from both wings of the movement are already at each other’s throats.
Was Biden critically weighed down among Cubans in Miami-Dade by being lumped together with Bernie Sanders’ socialist rhetoric? Does the success of progressive ballot measures like the $15 minimum wage in Florida despite Biden’s underperformance prove that the centrist wing of the party is out of touch?
The short answer is we don’t know and it will likely be weeks before we have enough data to reach strong conclusions.
What IS clear, however, is that we are a deeply divided nation. Democrats made modest gains when Republican turnout was depressed in 2018, but when both sides mobilized their bases in 2020, our national environment looks quite close to where we were in 2016.
The past two months of polling convinced many on the left that they had broken through, and that Trump was repudiated. That now seems to be a mirage. In all likelihood, we will be dealing with Trumpism for the better part of the next decade.
It’s also clear that there isn’t a tidy narrative about why that is. Trump continued to turn out white non-college-educated voters, but he made marginal gains with rural Black and Latino men in ways that proved decisive in some close races.
So where does that leave us? First off, we deserve to revel in this victory. The thousands of people who rallied nationwide on Saturday as part of the Democracy Defense Coalition’s Day of Celebration know we have a meaningful opportunity to make major, impactful policy changes on January 20. We will rejoin the Paris Agreement and stop regulatory roll-backs at the EPA. We will reinstate DACA and give immediate protections to millions of undocumented Americans. Finally, we will see Donald Trump and his Administration sent packing from the White House.
As the dust settles, and we will seek to build on our wins. Groups like Democracy for All 2021 Action will guide us on what democracy reforms we need to demand from our leaders once we eventually take back full control of government. This will help us build a fairer, more representative democracy where a 4-point popular vote win isn’t considered close.
Democrats also must stop taking voters of color for granted. We can start by supporting the transformational work of Fenton clients like the Center for Popular Democracy and Color of Change. More broadly though, we need to stop painting these communities with a broad brush and work just as intentionally to win their votes as we do with white voters.
And then at last, we should not lose hope. We have moved mountains for the past four years. Every person who made phone calls, had painful conversations with family, donated money, marched, protested, and screamed at the top of their lungs has a lot to be proud of with this victory.
Onward to January 5 where Democrats have the chance to flip two Georgia Senate seats and send Mitch McConnel back to the minority. Onward to January 20 when we return to the global fight against climate change. And onward to the 2022 midterms when we win even more decisively and entrench the progressive movement for years to come.
Tom Blake is an Associate Vice President on Fenton’s Digital Team.