2020 Election Results a ‘Recipe for Gridlock,’ ILTA’s Wright Explains
The 2020 election results are a “recipe for gridlock,” ILTA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Andy Wright told about 40 ILTA terminal members in a webinar briefing on November 19. That means continued legislative inaction in Congress, with the “vacuum shifting power down Pennsylvania Avenue” to the White House and to regulatory agencies with Biden-nominated leaders.
“Even if members of Congress could come to an agreement on the agenda, there is so much hyper-partisanship in Congress that it’s nearly impossible to reach compromise,” Wright said. As a result, expect the continued use of the Executive Order and a pendulum shift away from Trump policies, particularly on the environment and enforcement.
Wright said the 2020 election revealed an “extremely divided” nation. “This was almost a tribal election. It was not really policy driven,” he told attendees. The key for Democrat Joe Biden’s victory was turnout, which at 65% was the highest percentage of eligible voters participating since 1908.
Biden ultimately picked up about 80 million votes to 73 million for Republican President Donald Trump, the first and second highest vote counts ever recorded in a U.S. election. Incumbents are usually heavily favored to win reelection, Wright noted. But while Biden did not shift many Trump voters, he was able to get out many new voters, especially in the 13 battleground states, and shifted enough Independents and suburban women, turned off by Trump’s combative style, to take the win.
Ultimately, Biden won 51.1% of the national vote, against Trump’s 47.2%, “the largest percentage margin against an incumbent since” Franklin Roosevelt’s 1932 victory over Republican President Herbert Hoover. Moreover, Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin of victory that Trump lodged in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
While Trump continues to refuse to concede, he has finally allowed Biden to receive classified security briefings, federal funding and allowed Biden’s team to discuss policy with existing regulatory and executive teams. Despite Trump’s insistence that the election was stolen and that he actually won, Wright said Biden ultimately would take the office January 20, 2021. “It’s very clear there is no legal path for Trump,” Wright said. “If Trump refuses to leave the White House, I’m sure they can find some Secret Service agents to remove him.”
Control of the U.S. Senate will depend on the results of the special January 5 runoff election between Democrat Raphael Warnock and incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler to complete the term of Republican Johnny Isakson, who stepped down at the end of 2019 for health reasons. A second Georgia runoff election pits incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. After the November 3 elections, the current Senate split is 50-48, in favor of the Republican party, but if Democrats win both seats, control shifts to Democrats because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would serve as the tie-breaking vote.
Wright said that Republicans are favored in both races in Georgia. However, the high stakes of the election—control of the U.S. Senate—ensures historically expensive and unpredictable races.