The US Election – What Just Happened and What is Coming Next?

by | Nov 24, 2020 | Commentary & Insights | 0 comments

The US Presidential Election on 3rd November saw one of the most closely fought contests in history between the incumbent Republican President, Donald Trump, and the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. This US election had one of the highest ever turnouts, with a record 100 million Americans voting by post alone. The winner, Joe Biden, received more votes than any other candidate in history.

The Importance of Electoral College Votes:

As Hillary Clinton found in the last US election, winning the most votes does not automatically win the presidency. Instead, it is the number of Electoral College votes that decides who becomes the next president.

Each state in the US has a certain number of Electoral College votes. This is based on the state’s number of representatives in the Senate and its total population.

Whichever candidate wins the most votes in that state, wins the designated Electoral College votes for that state. For example, Joe Biden received the most votes in California and received its 55 Electoral College votes. To win the presidency you must win 270 of the 539 total Electoral College votes available.

All 50 states have now announced their results and after some delay in counting, Joe Biden is projected to win 306 Electoral College votes making him the next President of the United States.

What Can We Expect Now?

Joe Biden is due to be sworn in on the 20th January 2021.  However, Trump has refused to officially concede defeat, citing voter fraud from the high number of postal votes, despite a lack of evidence to support his claims. Though Trump will continue to contest the election result, he has said that his administration would begin co-operating with Biden’s transition team and start the transfer of power.

It is likely we will see a very different type of presidency under Biden during the next 4 years compared to what we have just experienced. For one thing, Biden is likely to favour more multilateral action when dealing with issues such as climate change, Chinese trade policy and tensions in the Middle East.

Biden has also made several major pledges as part of his US election bid. One of the most significant, in both scale and cost, is his planned spending on projects to help tackle climate change; reducing emissions from transport and buildings while also investing heavily in renewable energy. However, all of Biden’s pledges will need to be approved and passed by Congress before being sent back to him so that he can sign them into law.

What is Congress?

Congress consists of two parts, the House of Representatives (the House) and the Senate. For a bill to be passed it must first be voted in favour of by a majority of the members of the House and then by the Senate. Before the US election, Democrats held a small majority in the House and the Republicans held the Senate. The Democrats have been able to maintain their majority in the House and it is looking likely that Republicans are likely to keep their majority in the Senate. However, who controls the Senate will not be known for sure until we know the results of two run-off elections in Georgia being held in January.

As it currently stands, with a split congress, it is unlikely Biden will be able to get his policies through in their current form. Unless the Democrats take the Senate, which is possible but unlikely, we should expect more watered-down versions of Biden’s election pledges.

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