All eyes on the presidency

Over the last four days I’ve been unusually attached to my phone, regularly refreshing The New York Times to note leads, margins and the percentage of reported votes.

First stats showed strong support for Trump – at face value looking as though the polls had got it all wrong. Again. Cue flashbacks to the 2015 EU referendum and the 2016 US and 2019 UK elections. But pandemic disruption in 2020 has impacted voting methods too, with an unprecedented proportion of ballots being lodged by mail. Those inclined to vote by mail for reasons of social distancing tend to be science-led and Democratic-leaning, located in more densely populated counties which take longer to tally. Hence, the widespread approach of counting in-person votes first and mail-in votes second created a false sense of ‘count manipulation’, or as Trump would call it ‘voter fraud’, as Arizona and Nevada, and more critically Pennsylvania and Georgia slowly turned blue.

We were coming home on the train from Den Haag this afternoon after cycling neighbourhoods to see if its a place we might want to live (probably not) when the extraordinary news was delivered:

Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump and will become the 46th US President

15:34, BBC via Apple News

A small gasp left my mouth as joy and relief filled my body. My Instagram feed was entirely celebratory – pot-clanging, flag-waving, horn-tooting, street-dancing, screen-grabbed headlines, memes and jokes. We needed this. I needed this.

Through the suspense of the week I noticed that both tech and media were not giving Trump an inch. Twitter muted his misleading tweets, while The Guardian exposed the misinformation in his premature victory statement (which many networks did not air), and many outlets subsequently introduced a prominent disclaimer that no winner had yet been officially declared. Admittedly, a little late, but satisfying nonetheless to watch Trump squirm in the consequences of his own making. The acknowledgement of the Biden-Harris win by global leaders confirms what anyone not in denial already knows – that the 2020 election was as fair as any.

For posterity, McSweeney’s has catalogued Trump’s cruelties, collusions, corruptions and crime, some of which can be legally pursued once Trump is no longer protected by the presidency as outlined by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker. Finally, big thanks to Seth Meyers and the team for helping me survive the last four years.