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Joe Biden wins the US election, but some uncertainty remains

26 Nov 2020

By Kevin Lings, Stanlib economist

Joe Biden has won the 2020 US Presidential Elections. As the election polls concluded, it was most likely that he would win the popular vote, however some of the electoral college votes in the battleground states (many of which Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016) were not so easy to determine in the early stages of the election process. This was partly due to a larger-than-usual proportion of people opting to vote early and/or via mail-in ballots, which in some districts were only counted after election day in-person votes were counted. In the end, Biden clinched the swing state of Pennsylvania which ensured he had won enough of the electoral college votes to win the presidency.

President Donald Trump has so far not conceded, instead he has claimed on Twitter that he won the election. The Trump campaign is pursuing a legal route to challenge the outcome. These challenges appear, on the surface, unlikely to shift the overall outcome but could lead to some uncertainty during the coming weeks.

Trump will still be the US president until January next year according to the usual timeline (the president-elect is only inaugurated on the 20th of January). Usually, these final weeks of a sitting president are uneventful, as many of the decisions made can be overturned by the newly-elected president as soon as he takes office. However, Trump’s unwillingness to accept the election outcome could make him behave recklessly.

Despite an unprecedented number of Americans voting for Biden as president, it is important to note that a Democratic sweep (with the party taking control of the Senate as well as the presidency) seems more and more unlikely, although it is technically still possible. There are still votes that need to be counted in some states and recounts due to legal challenges are also to be expected.

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