It can fairly be argued that this election (justly or unjustly) became a referendum on Donald Trump's handling of the COVID-19 crisis. But it was also (justly or unjustly) a referendum on the direction of the Democratic Party—and the notion of 'unified' versus 'divided' government. Voters seemed to want new leadership at the top—but restraint below. The Trump campaign's messaging that warned of an oncoming "socialist" deluge resonated enough with key constituencies to cut into the Democratic House majority and (more than likely) maintain slim Republican control of the Senate.
Americans have always been wary of consolidated power—it's in our political DNA. This bizarre election may not have been so bizarre after all. It may just be another expression of reasoned voter behavior in the context of a sharply divided nation.