Political News

You called, we listened: What thousands of voicemails reveal about the 2020 election

Posted November 9, 2020 5:42 p.m. EST

— Many of you are ecstatic. Relieved. Safe.

Yet also worried -- not just those who voted for President Donald Trump, but others who are scared at just how divided the country has become.

We asked American voters how they feel about the outcome of the election now that Joe Biden is set to be the next president of the United States. Kamala Harris will be the nation's first Black and South Asian vice president, and the first woman to hold that office.

You left us almost 2,000 voicemails. Here's what you said.

So many of you mirrored Carmella Visconti's feelings of excitement and elation at the outcome. Here's what she said:

"Hi CNN, it's November 7th at 12:04 p.m. and Joe Biden has now been elected as President-elect with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. I am elated. I am excited. I cried with tears. I'm still kind of in tears because of all we've gone through for the last four years with the president that's in office now. We have two decent hard-working people that are going to be in the White House come January. Thank you. Congratulations, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris."

Antonio Gonzalez was one of many whom expressed hope at Biden's overtures of unity, rather than division, saying "love wins."

"Oh my god, Biden just won and I'm just, I'm so shocked and I'm happy and I'm feeling so many things, I just. Wow. Wow is all I can say. Love wins. Everything won today. I'm just so, so happy."

Brian from San Francisco described the change in leadership as being like coming out of an "abusive relationship."

"I have to say that I was watching CNN when the call was made for Joe Biden and almost immediately, I felt this wave of relief hit me. That I would no longer have to sit and spend every day devoting time and energy to worrying about what the President was going to say on Twitter, in the news, and what kind of potential hate speech he would spread. That a decent man like Joe Biden was going to be our commander-in-chief. And that I would be able to sleep and not have to worry. It feels like these past four years that the President of the United States has been in an emotionally abusive relationship with the rest of us. And now that that's over, it's hard not to feel like we're free in some way from a tormentor that we put there. Thank you."

A viewer from the transgender community expressed relief for their community, who she said didn't feel safe under Trump.

"This has been a lot for me and my community and it's, I'm in tears of joy right now because this country needs change. We need to see change. People need to feel comfortable in their own skin when they walk outside the door and not feel scared of how their life is going to turn out, or if someone's going to take their life because of someone's hatred towards another person's lifestyle or well-being. And Joe Biden is a person that's gonna change it and have Kamala Harris in the office as well, the first Black female vice president is just tremendous. It's overwhelming, it's just too much. Words cannot express how I feel, and this country is headed in the right direction, right direction. Very, very, good. Very good."

In a text call-out we did for people who prefer to write rather than leave voice messages, many people from the LGBTQ community expressed similar sentiments.

Alex, Newton from Massachusetts wrote:

"It's finally over! As an LGBT person I was scared for me and my family's safety, but it's finally over!"

Liam, from Austin, Texas wrote:

"There is a future for me as a gay man in America."

However, while the overwhelming majority of responses we received expressed jubilation with the outcome, not everyone is happy.

Some people told us they won't accept the outcome, although many of these types of messages were anonymous.

"Yeah, Joe Biden will never be my president. Kamala Harris will never be my vice president. I don't even acknowledge them as existing, you can take that to the bank."

Either way, the fact that the election took days to call with razor-thin margins in some states has people worried about the divisions in this country.

Here's what one viewer said:

"I am very glad that Biden and Harris won. But I am also quite sad that it was so close. I keep thinking about the 71 million people who bought all of the fear that Trump and his allies sold. The fear of change, the fear of the other, the fear of nuance and complexity. Maybe Jill Biden, our new FLOTUS, can turn the focus on education because knowledge is especially powerful when it's a path to better communication all around."

President-elect Joe Biden seeks to unite nation with victory speech

However, Vietnam veteran Gary Kelly reminded us that Trump's rhetoric has alienated many people as well.

"I'm Gary Kelly from the state of Kentucky. I'm a Vietnam veteran and I'm certainly glad we're gonna see it change in Washington. Because I'm not a sucker or loser. I fought for my country and a lot of other men did too and I'm glad we got a President-elect who will appreciate that. I'm a senior citizen and I certainly appreciate the people turning out to vote. And we need to continue bringing this country together. United We Stand, thank you and God bless."

Your voicemails confirmed Trump's handling of the coronavirus played a big role in the election.

Lucy was one of many viewers who told us they believe Biden will do a better job of getting the virus under control.

"This is Lucy College. I'm calling from Sterling, New York. I am excited and anxious and hopeful, hopeful that the folks will do the right thing. I served my country in the military through three wars over 40 years and I want to see this virus end and I believe the only one who can end this virus and bring us back to normalcy is Joe Biden."

For the majority of the Black community, Biden's win seems to bring a huge sense of relief.

Carmel from Texas summed it up with her words:

"My name is Carmel and I'm calling from Texas. I'm very excited as a Black woman being in America to know that we have someone who cares about us. Not just us, but someone who cares about all individuals of stripes, and I'm very excited and I just thank God that Biden and Harris made it our first vice president Black woman and I thank God, praying hard for years of this nonsense and this country being divided. We have finally found someone who cares for all of us in this country. Go, Joe Biden and go Kamala Harris. Amen."

Some pro-Trump supporters told us they worry about Biden's foreign policy experience, despite him having served as vice president for eight years under Obama.

Here's one of them: "My name is Eugene Ash. As far as Joe, President Joe Biden is concerned, if NATO nations are all favoring him that means much foreign troubles for America. He is totally uncapable of handling foreign affairs."

Concern over what Biden's policies might be isn't just coming from the political right. Some progressive Democrats want clarity too, highlighting some of the divisions within the Democratic party.

Marshall says he's most worried Biden will forget about the critical role progressives played in helping him get elected.

"Hi, my name is Marshall. Calling on the line from Kansas City, Missouri. The Biden win was really something that America needed to move past the authoritarianism of the Trump presidency. But what I feel most worried about is that Biden will ignore the fact that Bernie supporters and other progressives and leftists that united behind him to help him get elected and get Trump out of office, and he's instead going to stick to only serving the moderate Democrats and not really give any policy boosts to the progressives who helped get him elected. I just really don't want to feel like Biden leaves us behind, when we're one of the people who helped get him elected."

And if Biden didn't already have his work cut out for him inheriting a divided government in Washington and the difficulty of solving the nation's Covid-19 crisis, many Trump supporters continue to believe Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud.

"Yeah, this is Brian in Colorado. And this is the biggest scam I've ever seen, this election. It was clear that Trump won this and I'm not sure why everybody seems to hide this but it's quite the scam going on."

On Twitter and on television, Trump and his allies continue to bombard Americans with false claims about the presidential election -- falsely asserting Democrats were attempting to steal the election from Trump. There is no evidence for this. Read our fact check of these claims here.

"Yeah, this is Jamie Johnson. I'm feeling pretty damn good. I'm in Northport, Alabama. Just letting y'all know that this election is far from over. Sleepy Joe has not won yet. Y'all can claim that all you want but Trump and his legal team are coming in the morning. Bank it. The cheating s*** will end. Trump 2020."

Fact check: Trump doubles down on groundless conspiracy theory that GOP poll watchers across the country were sidelined

Overall, the majority of messages we received expressed relief, a sense of freedom, and hope at a better and brighter future.

Austin from Illinois summed up those sentiments saying he hugged his loved ones a little tighter.

"Hi, this is Austin from Johnson City, Illinois. I'm feeling a huge weight lifted off my shoulders today. The last four years of this, tyranny is a good word for it is, is over. We know there's light at the end of the tunnel. I hugged my daughter really tight. I kissed my wife, I cried a little. It's, it's a great day for America, and I'm so ready for Joe Biden to be president.

We're still listening. Give us a call, leave us a message and share your thoughts: 202-618-2517.

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.