The Champagne flowed last weekend after the AP and other media outlets declared Joe Biden and Kamala Harris winners of the 2020 race. The world celebrated with joyous marches and even fireworks in some cities in scenes that recalled the Rebel Alliance destroying the Death Star in “Star Wars.”
But the euphoria of that moment was quickly tempered by the realization that the “blue tsunami” many pollsters had predicted failed to materialize, as Susan Collins, Mitch McConnell, and the closeted Lindsey Graham all won re-election fairly handily over well-funded and hyped Democratic opponents. The pundits quickly engaged in a bit of revisionist history, falsely claiming they were right all along about the 2020 election being close. In fact, the final polls of 2020 showed Biden winning Wisconsin by 12 points and Michigan by seven.
It’s true that Biden won more votes than any presidential candidate in history, but it’s also true that Trump won the second largest share, and that’s after four years of outrageously incompetent and racist behavior and amid a pandemic that’s killed nearly 250,000 Americans.
Although the final Senate tally remains to be determined by two runoff races in Georgia, it’s unlikely both Democratic challengers there will prevail in January and result in a 50-50 Senate tie to be broken by Senate President Harris.
Thus, we’re likely back to divided government with the odious McConnell running the Senate and already threatening to continue his practice of blocking legislation and appointees he doesn’t like, which will undoubtedly include the Equality Act, Biden’s No. 1 legislative priority.
Meanwhile, in even more ominous news for Democrats, their House majority shrank as Republicans picked up an unexpected five seats. Almost no one outside of President Trump predicted the GOP would pick up House seats this year. That stunning result led to warnings from centrist Democrats that the party needs to distance itself from allegations of “socialism” and even Rep. Jim Clyburn has since said that calls to “defund the police” ended up costing Democrats some House seats.
And in yet another surprise development, demographic information gleaned from exit polls revealed that Trump won 28 percent of the LGBTQ vote, double the 14 percent he won in 2016 and the highest percentage for a Republican presidential candidate since George W. Bush in 2000. Biden’s 61 percent of the LGBTQ vote is the worst performance of any Democratic nominee since that demographic was first recorded in 1992, as the Blade reported this week.
There were warning signs that Biden and Harris would underperform among LGBTQ voters, who comprised an unexpectedly high 7 percent of the electorate, according to the exit polls. Neither candidate addressed LGBTQ issues during the presidential and vice presidential debates, a missed opportunity especially for Harris who faced notorious homophobe Mike Pence but failed to draw a contrast with him over queer issues.
Biden’s campaign also refused multiple requests for interviews with the Blade, a break in tradition as the Blade has a record of interviewing presidential hopefuls, including John McCain in 2008, the first time a GOP presidential nominee granted an interview to the LGBTQ press.
Taking LGBTQ voters for granted was a sloppy mistake and Trump capitalized on it as his campaign launched an LGBTQ outreach effort headed by prominent surrogates like Ric Grenell and Tiffany Trump and included marches in eight cities. Many laughed off those efforts, but they helped Trump double his support among LGBTQ voters.
Make no mistake that ridding Washington of Trump and his Cabinet hell bent on destroying the federal government marks a huge win and sigh of relief for thinking people everywhere. But the results were not the resounding Trump rebuke the country needed. Instead, we’re left to cope with the fact that more than 70 million Americans — and 28 percent of LGBTQ voters — wanted four more years of this madness.
A McConnell-led Senate will block our legislative priorities and progressive appointments. And with a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that looks poised to rule against same-sex couples in a discrimination case next year, the road ahead appears rocky at best, and riddled with more setbacks at worst.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.