Covering the US Election as a student journalist


1186 days

39 months

50 states

2 candidates

1 election

And 3 days of waiting…

The 2020 US Election is perhaps the most monumental election in history and for several reasons – the men running for President, the pandemic, the stakes, the turnout, the votes, the counts – and recounts.

Since November 3rd, the world was in limbo awaiting the result that either Donald Trump has been re-elected or that Joe Biden, the former Vice President, has garnered enough voters to push this orange bigamist out of office. Now that Joe Biden has been announced as the 46th President of the United States, it seems that across the world, everyone has taken a sigh of relief.

As a student journalist, this date has been marked on my calendar for months, only added to in the anticipation by the regular BBC and Guardian updates that continue to appear on my phone screen.

When the day finally arrived of the 2020 US Presidential Election, we knew none of our team would be sleeping due to sheer surges of adrenaline – and coffee of course.

The phrase, ‘living through history’ was tossed around quite a bit on the night and whilst this may be something of a cliché given the events of the past few months, it is nevertheless, true. Years from now, someone will ask me,

              “Where were you on the night of the 2020 US Presidential election?”

I was at university hunched over my laptop and wrapped up with a coffee in one hand and a pen in the other until 5:30 am, desperately waiting for Nevada to turn blue.

As the dust settles and Biden begins the process of becoming President, the world will now be asking;

              “What can we expect from a Biden Presidency?”

Analysts say there were two issues on the ballot: the economy and coronavirus.

The main expectation with a Biden presidency will be, I imagine, some semblance of calm, not to relax or stagnate, but managing change rationally and positively. Given the time, it is safe to say that Biden’s main focus will be managing the Coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s management was chaotic and contradictory and therefore Biden will need to bring some semblance of organisation and calm to the virus management, but also to the US as a whole as this has been absent from the US Presidency in the past 4 years. Biden has already outlined his plans to combat the rising cases in the US as part of his presidential campaign, these plans include mandatory face masks, paid sick leave, restoring Obamacare and free COVID-19 tests, as well as a pandemic task force as of Monday. Medical journals and societies alike have endorsed Biden’s plan to combat the virus as, by his own words, the pandemic is not ending anytime soon.

Secondly, the economy, an issue that is intertwined with the handling of the pandemic. Biden has 4 main plans to help repair the damage. Firstly, Biden plans to implement the DPA (Defence Protection Act) otherwise known as war-time legislation, to compel businesses to make protective equipment. This amongst providing aid to small businesses and increasing unemployment insurance would provide more security for the US economy, but also increasing an already large budget deficit thanks to the Republicans under Donald Trump. The second of Biden’s economic plans also centres on corporal taxation, another reversion of his soon-to-be-predecessor’s leniency with the rich. Biden plans to raise the current corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% for bigger companies. As a result of Trump’s tax cuts, the US deficit grew and GDP growth slowed throughout 2019 therefore Biden’s policies could put cash in more American hands, boosting spending and the overall economy.

Finally, although Biden is still amidst his triumphant celebrations, it is not unusual to find the media contemplating when he will step down. The new President-elect is 77, he will be 78 by the time he is inaugurated pending any legal issues. Additionally, the choice of 56-year-old Kamala Harris as his running partner and now Vice-President leads us to believe that Biden will step down to allow Harris to take the reins at the end of his first term.

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