As Wellington said after winning the battle of Waterloo, it was "a close-run thing". And so it was for Joe Biden, the now-President-elect of the United States. Despite the massive support that Biden got from the media and associated pollster predictions of a clear and consistent lead over Donald Trump, his victory, in the end, was narrow indeed. Trump won a record-breaking 71 million votes to Biden's 75 million votes; that is 52% to 48%. A win, but thin.
The question, therefore, to be asked is why did so many people vote for Trump, despite his vulgarity, his impetuosity and his chaotic governance?
Were the 71 million that were attracted to support Trump uneducated, stupid, racist rednecks, or extreme Right-wingers? These are uncomfortable questions for the Democratic party and also for other liberal Establishment politicians throughout the Western democracies, where similar things have happened.
Clearly, there is something very wrong with American politics when Donald Trump, a maverick, anti-Establishment non-politician, with all his glaring mistakes and personal failings, was able to win the 2016 election and nearly recaptured the White House in this election.
In Britain, a similarly maverick Conservative leader, namely Boris Johnson, massively triumphed in the 2019 General Election and delivered a humiliating knockout blow to the Labour Party in its historic heartlands. All this happened while a hostile media relentlessly lampooned the bumbling Boris and forecast his political demise.
The metropolitan elite that dominated Labour were oblivious to the rumblings among ordinary Labour voters and rejected the dire warnings coming from their northern MPs.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in the south are now hard put to scramble together 50% of the total vote in a general election.
Gone are the days when these two well-established parties between them took 70%-plus of the popular vote and fought against each other for the reins of government.
In France, Italy and Spain, all the established political parties that ruled for most of the post-War years have either been seriously weakened, or have disintegrated. The alienation of working-class electors from conventional parties throughout most of the democratic world is a universal phenomenon, which has been dismissively denigrated as populism.
Populism is seen as racist, anti-immigrant and covertly fascist. While there are undoubtedly some elements that confirm that analysis, this cannot be a comprehensive explanation.
The conventional parties, such as the Democrats and the Labour Party, now seriously need to examine themselves and reconnect with people at a grassroots level, instead of depending on pollsters and focus groups.
The big challenge for the new President, Joe Biden, is to unite a bitterly fractured United States. Although this division preceded Trump, he, with his nakedly confrontational style, exacerbated that division.
In addition, Trump, by not accepting the legitimacy of his defeat, will further exacerbate the division within American politics. Trumpism may still endure in a different guise, even without Donald Trump.
However, Biden is a well-experienced Establishment politician, much at ease in squaring deals on Capitol Hill.
His inclination is to compromise and his warm, reassuring personality is well-suited to building consensus.
Whenever he was Vice-President, Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, told President Obama to keep Biden away, because he was always negotiating deals with his Republican opponents.
That is the nature of the man and, in present circumstances, he will need all the emollient charm that he can muster to get things through Congress.
The Democratic Party, although successful in the Presidential election, have fallen short of their aim of gaining a majority in the US Senate and their majority in the House of Representatives has been reduced.
Biden will probably have to contend with a Republican Senate that could obstruct his programme for government and make him a lame duck President.
Despite losing the presidency, the Republicans will be very happy with their congressional performance. Some may even be privately happy for Trump to have lost.
There are many important issues to be tackled, not least the endless battles over healthcare and climate change. International trade deals, especially with China, are also a top priority.
The fight against Covid-19 will need to be more vigorously pursued and brought under proper federal management.
President Biden, like many other American politicians, claims to be Irish. He has expressed goodwill towards the Irish people and will be good for Ireland as a whole.
He is firmly committed to ensuring that the Good Friday Agreement will be fully upheld in the post-Brexit period. This strong position by Biden augurs well for Europe and bad for Boris Johnson.
Under President Biden, there can be no question of Johnson attempting to dilute the protections guaranteed by the Northern Ireland protocol.