UConn political science professors provide their take on the 2020 election

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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holds hands with President-elect Joe Biden and her husband Doug Emhoff as they celebrate Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP Photo.

The 2020 election panned out to be one of the most interesting and controversial election cycles this country has ever witnessed. In addition to the highly contested presidential election race, there were also important races in the House of Representatives and the Senate, which are still taking place and could provide Democrats with the opportunity to regain control of the Senate.  

To discuss the election results and their future implications, the UConn political science department hosted a PoliSci Chat that gave professors the opportunity to provide their take on the election. 

In accordance with the uncommon nature of 2020, panelists agreed that this election cycle was unprecedented for many reasons. Claims of voter fraud, ballot miscounts, long lines at polling locations and the mere fact that this was all taking place against the backdrop of a pandemic combined to produce an unforgettable election.  

Going into the election, the Latino vote was deemed an important voting bloc that many people were paying attention to and candidates were trying hard to win over. According to Pew Research Center, the number of Latinos in all 50 states has continued to grow, with the demographic now making up an increasingly large share of the electorate and thus holding a lot of political power. 

“It is extremely important to remember that we cannot paint all Latinos with one single brush,”

“It is extremely important to remember that we cannot paint all Latinos with one single brush,” Beth Ginsberg, an assistant professor in residence, said. “There are tremendous diversity and distinctions amongst the different voters.” 

In 2016, President Trump won 28% of the Latino vote, and though we will not know for a while how this percentage compares to the 2020 results, many Latinos, according to Ginsberg, have begun to identify as Evangelical Christians, which generally leads to political conservativeness. Given that the Latino vote is extremely complex and diverse, it can be hard to pinpoint for candidates. 

“As soon as Joe Biden was called a socialist, immediately, in the minds of the many Cuban and Venezuelan, Nicaraguan and Colombian voters in South Florida, it was no difference between him and Fidel Castro or him and Hugo Chavez,” Ginsberg said. 

Another key takeaway from the election was voter turnout rates. Despite taking place during a pandemic, this year’s turnout rates were higher than any other presidential election.  

The Associated Press’s most recent count has President-elect Joe Biden winning the popular vote with 77,057,193 votes. This historic count shows how voter turnout rates were higher than ever before. Additionally, the number of mail-in ballots and the amount of early voting were also historic figures. 

Despite many prominent news organizations calling the election in Biden’s favor, President Trump has outwardly refused to accept the results and has launched legal efforts in many states over various voting procedures.  

“It was the most openly blatant attempt to suppress the vote that I’ve seen in my lifetime by a president,” Paul Herrnson, a political science professor, said. 

As the coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen, President Trump expressed early on his distrust in and disdain for mail-in voting. He encouraged his supporters to show up to the polls in person instead. 

“We have one person who’s supposed to represent us all, yet that person, the president of the United States, used a divide and conquer approach to governing and campaigning,”

“We have one person who’s supposed to represent us all, yet that person, the president of the United States, used a divide and conquer approach to governing and campaigning,” Herrnson said. 

Trump’s outright attempt to cast doubt on the electoral system did not work out in his favor, as millions of Democrats chose to cast mail-in ballots and take part in early voting, which is what allowed Biden to ultimately surpass the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.  

The next few weeks are sure to be interesting and full of surprises as President Trump appears to be hanging on to any last hope that he can still win the election.  

“All I kept thinking of is the 20th Amendment … the terms of the president and the vice president shall end at noon on the 20 of January,” Ginsberg said. “Even if President Trump wants to stay, he can’t. His term ends on January 20.” 

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