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Election officials count ballots in Pennsylvania's Allegheny County on Nov. 6. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

As hard-fought and drawn-out as the final stages of the election have been, the violence many experts feared hasn't materialized so far.

Why it matters: Perhaps it shouldn't be much cause for celebration that the world's oldest continual democracy managed to get through an election without bloodshed. But as divided as the 2020 election showed Americans are, the vast majority of us respected the process — and each other.

What's happening: While protests have continued over the final tallying of outstanding ballots in battleground states, violence appears to have been minimal.

Flashback: This wasn't the outcome many experts were fearing in the troubled run-up to the election.

  • One analyst wrote — with reason — in June that the U.S. was in a state of "incipient insurgency," facing a growth in organized violence from extremist groups.
  • "American institutions may not prove as strong as we would hope," DJ Peterson, president of Longview Global Advisors, told me in September. He laid out the risks in a report published shortly before the election.
  • Yet so far our electoral institutions, the court system and even social media platforms have performed fairly well through the election and the stressful days that have followed.

Yes, but: It's not hard to wonder what would have happened in an even closer election, or one that — like in 2000 — hung on a single disputed state.

  • Assuming Joe Biden does indeed have enough votes to become the next president, it remains to be seen whether President Trump — who continues to deny the legitimacy of the election in what my Axios colleagues have called his "war against reality and truth" — will ultimately concede.
  • Even if Trump refuses, however, the last few days should give us more hope that American institutions will be strong enough to carry the country through regardless.

The bottom line: Whatever your feelings about the ultimate outcome of the election, we should all be relieved that we still remain a country — for now, at least.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include a report by DJ Peterson outlining election risk.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

How the election changed investors

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photos: David Hume Kennerly, Alex Wong/Getty Images

50% of Americans changed their investing strategy after seeing the result of the presidential election, according to a Harris Poll survey for Empower Retirement and Personal Capital shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: The election and the intense news cycles following it were perceived, correctly, as an inflection point of historical proportions. Doing nothing is hard in such situations, even if sticking to your long-term plan is what most financial advisers would recommend.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.