back to news Nov. 16, 2020

Understanding the outcome of the 2020 election

Election Day is officially behind us, but there is still plenty to unpack as the United States grapples with its current political landscape and how matters such as COVID-19, racial justice and climate change are connected to it.

“Election 2020: Understanding the Outcome,” a webinar discussion hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences on Nov. 12, brought together five college experts to explore the most pressing matters facing the country backdropped by a contentious election cycle.

Gretchen Ritter, executive dean and vice provost of the College of Arts and Sciences, moderated a panel of academics with backgrounds and expertise vital to understanding the critical issues of today. The panelists were:

“Many have seen the 2020 election as critical — some even suggesting that it is perhaps the most consequential election of our lifetimes,” Ritter said. “Politically, this election was marked by extremely high levels of participation as well as by deep levels of political polarization. … How are we to make sense, then, of all of these issues and what their implications are for the party system, for racial justice, for climate change and efforts to manage the COVID pandemic?”

The panelists discussed their areas of research with regard to the 2020 election and U.S. politics, the impact misinformation has in their respective academic domains and how they thought a new administration led by President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would affect the country’s response to the pandemic, climate change and calls for racial and social equity.

Though the webinar focused on urgent issues that are cause of concern for many Americans, the panelists culminated the discussion by reflecting on reasons to be hopeful moving forward.

“I think all of you out there are thinking, ‘When is all of this going to be over. When is the election really going to end?’” Beck said. “There is some really good news there in spite of the infighting going on. The challenge is that when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office on the 20th of January, they face a set of really difficult problems. What’s hopeful about that is that I think the public is ready to move on and say, ‘We want problem-solvers in Congress and in the White House who are going to deal with these problems.”