Last Saturday saw the conclusion — at least unoffically — of a historic presidential election, with major news networks projecting that former Vice President Joseph Biden had become the president-elect.
Although there were still votes to be counted at press time on Tuesday, Biden had received the most votes of any presidential candidate in American history, roughly 76.4 million, while President Trump garnered the second-highest total, nearly 71.5 million, according to the Associated Press.
In Valley Stream, residents across the political spectrum looked back on a race that was unprecedented in a number of ways, not least that it had taken place during a pandemic.
Kacper Bury, who typically votes Republican, said he was disappointed with the outcome, particularly after early returns favored Trump. “It was crazy to see Biden’s numbers the day after Election Day,” he said. “I know many Biden supporters did a lot of mail-in voting, but it was still surprising to see so many states slowly converting to blue.”
Bury was critical of the Electoral College, which select American presidents, particularly because New York City’s overwhelming Democratic majority has long meant that the state’s 29 electoral votes go to Democratic nominees.
“It’s infuriating to know that the five boroughs will ultimately decide which candidate the state chooses every election,” Bury said.
He has low hopes for a Biden presidency, noting that he believes he is a “follower more than a leader,” he said.
“I think it’ll be large companies and other countries calling the shots instead of Biden being assertive and fighting for what’s best for our country, even if it means breaking a close relationship with another person or ally,” he said.
Natalia Villeda, who said she usually votes Democratic, but was unable to register this year, said the unrest in the country in recent years has sapped her desire to engage politically. She said she hoped Biden would win, but was “unnerved” by the closeness of the vote.
“What concerned me most about Trump is his lack of decorum, overall rudeness in his tone and also the way he spreads misinformation,” Villeda said. “I think this behavior often reads as chaotic and makes the U.S. seem lacking in leadership.”
Regardless, she said she had noticed the heightened tensions around the election this year. “There was a palpable feeling of anxiety on Election Day and in the days after,” she said, noting she hoped Biden would bring unity to what she views as a fractured country.
James Conerty, a Republican, said he has voted in every election since he turned 18. At 23, he said, each election “holds its own significance,” and this one was no different.
Overall, he said he agreed with Trump on the economy and foreign policy, but took issue with the way he presented himself, particularly on social media. “My biggest concern was his Twitter page,” Conerty said. “If President Trump was more reserved on social media, I think the media and society would respect him more and realize the amazing job he has done the last four years while in office.”
He expressed concerns about Biden, saying he does not havea much to show from his long career in politics. “I believe he was extremely unsuccessful as vice president under President Obama,” he said. “He was given the chance and opportunity to make a difference and he failed.”
Conerty said he was struck by the divisiveness of this election, with friends and families split over which candidate they supported. “Violence and hatred prevailed as an election has never divided America more,” he said.
Regardless, he said he would support whoever is in office. “I’ll root for whatever candidate is in office because I’m an American,” Conerty said. “I know people who rooted for America to fail just because Trump was in office, and that’s beyond sad. I believe it could be a repeat of the Obama administration, and I hope for everyone’s sake it isn’t.”
Jermaine Howerton, who described himself as a left-leaning independent, said he had concerns about both candidates. “I didn’t think either candidate had the intuitiveness to lead our country,” he said. “I had to pick the lesser of two evils.”
Regardless, Howerton said he hoped a Biden presidency would do more to support Black communities in the country. “I wanted a president that would back the Black community and who wouldn’t stir up division like we’ve seen over the previous five years,” he said.
“I also wanted to see Kamala Harris become vice president,” he said. “I was glad that she was chosen. She’s fit for the job, and she’s making history.
Howerton said he had some concern about Biden’s age — at 77, he is the oldest man to win the presidency — but he described Trump as “Trojan horse for individuals to use for some of their racist beliefs.”
“I thought Trump was going to win,” he said, “but I didn’t expect Long Island to come out for him that strongly.”
-Peter Belfiore contributed to this story.