Even if he has lost, a President who trampled the rule of law for four years was on pace to collect millions more votes this time than last. And though they braced for a bloodbath, the congressional Republicans who enabled him instead notched unexpected gains. The GOP appeared likely to retain the majority in the Senate and cut into the Democratic House majority, defying the polls and fundraising deficits. Republicans held onto states such as Florida, South Carolina, Ohio and Iowa that Democrats had hoped to flip. They cut into Democrats’ margins with nonwhite voters, made gains with Latinos in South Florida and the Rio Grande Valley, and racked up huge turnout among non-college-educated white people, while halting what many conservatives feared was an inexorable slide in the suburbs…

If Biden emerges as the winner, his achievement—toppling an incumbent who manipulated the levers of government to try to gain an advantage, and made voter suppression a core campaign strategy—shouldn’t be discounted. As the vote count continued, his campaign projected confidence and noted it had always said the race would be close. But even if he becomes the next President, it seems clear that he will be governing Trump’s America: a nation unpersuaded by kumbaya calls for unity and compassion, determined instead to burrow ever deeper into mutual antagonism. Win or lose, Trump has engineered a lasting tectonic shift in the American political landscape, fomenting a level of anger, resentment and suspicion that will not be easy for his successor to surmount.

Whoever takes the oath of office on Jan. 20 will be tested by a historic set of challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has just entered its worst phase yet, rampaging across the country virtually unchecked. The economic fallout from the virus continues to worsen without new federal aid.