Biden recaptured just enough of the Democratic coalition to make Trump a one-term president

Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News
·3 min read

The man from Scranton was just what America wanted in 2020.

Joe Biden won back just enough of the traditional Democratic coalition — and added just enough support in the suburbs — to turn President Trump into the first incumbent president to lose reelection in 28 years.

The amiable Biden, who grew up in the blue-collar Pennsylvania city, grabbed back some of the same working-class turf that Trump grabbed in 2016 and scored a historic landslide win in America’s cities.

On the Electoral College map, those shifts allowed Biden to barely rebuild the so-called #BlueWall of Rust Belt states that Trump flipped to win the White House.

Biden’s native state put him over the top Saturday with at least 279 electoral votes. He also grabbed narrow wins over Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin and forged slender leads in traditionally Republican states of Arizona and Georgia.

“He patched up the blue wall is what he did,” said J. Miles Coleman of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “And I would say it’s really a purple wall at this point because Democrats cannot count on those states every election.”

Democrats had hoped Biden would win a sweeping nationwide landslide over Trump. That certainly did not materialize and Trump easily held Republican strongholds of Texas and expanded his margin from 2016 in Florida for a bigger-than-expected win there.

Trump also put up an impressive fight in the Rust Belt, barely losing the same three states that he barely won four years ago. He also did much better than expected among Latino voters.

The president, who bragged that America was “rounding the corner” in the fight against coronavirus, dramatically defied polls that mostly predicted he would lose by a massive margin.

He maintained his powerful right-wing base in America’s heartland and showed to be no pushover even in suburbs of Long Island and Staten Island where he was written off.

But Biden built a popular vote margin that was growing towards 5 million votes and was leading in states with 306 electoral votes, the exact same number that Trump won four years earlier. Trump now becomes the first incumbent to lose reelection since George H.W. Bush in 1992, whose defeat came after 12 years of GOP rule.

Democrats portrayed that as a historic mandate especially with record turnout, even as Republicans succeeded in winning seats in the House of Representatives and leading in the fight for the Senate.

How did Biden do it?

He won a bigger share of white working class voters than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. He also ran up huge margins among strongly Democratic Black voters, who effectively gave Biden the Democratic nomination by swinging sharply behind him during the primary fight.

Biden also rode a wave of opposition to Trump among well-educated voters in traditionally Republican suburbs from coast to coast, although the #BlueWave did not turn into the tsunami the GOP feared.

His steady personality also proved an asset in a campaign that was rocked by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn that it caused, along with the sprawling protests for racial justice that erupted after the police killing of George Floyd.

Biden started the campaign as a well-liked figure, if not one that inspired passion in Democrats. He became more popular during the campaign as successive smear campaigns by the GOP failed to dent his image.

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