I am sorry to turn in my customary post-election report incomplete. As I write this it is 5:30 am CST and we don’t know much more about the outcome of the Presidential race than we did when I finally turned in four hours earlier. We do know that the predicted Red Mirage of a Trump Election Day surge came true and that Democratic hopes of a Blue Wave once again fell short. But with critical states still undecided—although various media outlets have not yet agreed on calling some races—and mail-in and absentee ballots still to be counted in Pennsylvania, Joe Biden looks to have the best path to an Electoral College win. Hardly any media outlets are even reporting the national popular vote, although at this point with lots of votes out, Biden has a 3% edge. That edge will surge when late reporting, heavily Democratic California completes its vote tally in about two weeks.
The early loss of Florida by a significant margin sent shivers into Democratic hearts last night But Biden had a significant win in Minnesota and now holds a lead in Wisconsin with Milwaukee finally reporting. Trump won in Ohio and leads in Michigan, but there are still enough outstanding votes there to possibly narrowly swing the state. Media outlets are split on declaring Arizona, but Biden has a significant lead there and is expected to hold it. Biden leads by a narrower margin in Nevada. Biden also picked up Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District around Omaha in a state that awards Electoral votes by Congressional District. That would be just enough to push Biden over 270 Electoral College votes for a win.There are many often contradictory election result maps out there. This one shows Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania tending to Biden, not counting the single Nebraska Congressional District won by Biden, and counting Georgia as a solid red despite the Atlanta area's still uncounted. See somethin different on the channel of your choice.
Meanwhile although Trump now leads in Georgia, Atlanta and its surrounding suburban counties still have enough uncounted ballots to push the State narrowly to Biden. Counting there was suspended in the early hours of the morning and is not expected to resume until 10 am.
Meanwhile Trump’s current lead in Pennsylvania represents only 43% of the total vote. Officials in that state still have significant mail-in and absentee ballots, many of them from Philadelphia and its suburban counties, and by court order can count those post marked by Election Day and received within three days. This has had Trump unhinged for weeks. His attempts to block vote counting “after Election Day” were previously blocked by Federal Court. In his early morning White House address in which he claimed victory in the election, Trump once again vowed to challenge the Pennsylvania, and perhaps other state votes in cases that could be decided before the Supreme Court with his new appointees representing a solid conservative majority. However there is so much president for continuing to count ballots after Election Day that most Court observers don’t believe that even the reactionary judges would have the nerve to overturn state election laws.
Trump’s real hope is to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election and perhaps to rouse his die hard supporters and armed White nationalist militias and groups to rise up against his loss.
But by the time you read this, things might have changed. Punditry this season is written on water.
Now for a quick review of other developments.
The good news; I was frankly fearful of some Election Day right-wing terrorist attacks on polling places, voters, and possibly candidates in an attempt to scare voters from the polls. That did not materialize. There were some of Trump’s pickup truck caravans that tried to impede access to polling places, but it was not widespread or effective. Nor have urban riots and looting ballyhooed by Trupistas materialized. The election was tense, but by in large peaceful. Republican voter suppression tactics continue but most determined voters managed to get to cast their ballots.
The bad news: Once high hopes of recapturing the Senate have been dashed. The most hopeful scenario now is a 50-50 split after a run-off election in Georgia between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock. Democrats picked up one seat with popular former governor John Hickenlooper in Colorado and former astronaut Mark Kelly is the likely winner in Arizona. But Democrats as expected lost incumbent Doug Jones’ seat in deep red Alabama. Low key, below the radar Democratic incumbent Gary Peters is in a tight race in Michigan that could be tied to the eventual Presidential winner there. Maine’s reprehensible alleged independent moderate Susan Collins inexplicably clings to a narrow lead in that deeply divided state. The biggest disappointment of the night was the double-digit loss of Jaime Harrison who raised the most money of any Senate candidate in history and had a narrow lead in some state polls just two weeks ago to Lindsey Graham, the former Trump foe turned sycophant and the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who rammed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. It was no surprise that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was re-elected handily in Kentucky. He is already plotting how to be completely obstructionist if Biden wins just as he was when Barak Obama was in the White House.
The Good News: Democrats are on track to retain a majority in the House of Representatives. Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems a shoe-in to return to that role. But a divided Congress will give Biden a headache if he is elected and stymie many of his plans, programs, and reforms.
The Bad News: The country will face unprecedented turmoil as Trump attempts to stay in power by any means necessary. Virtual civil war is not out of the question nor is the possibility of Trump barricading himself in the White House and daring any authority to drag him out. There are also odd scenarios being talked about. One would be an Electoral College tie that would send the election into the House of Representatives. Despite the solid Democratic majority in the House, rules call for each state delegation to caucus and then cast a single vote. Despite much lower populations, there are many more Red States than Blue ones. Another possibility being discussed is Republican majorities in some state legislatures simply ignoring the popular vote and selecting their own Electors. Although some state Constitutions require their legislatures to endorse the Electors of the candidate who won the state, some a mum on the issue and other are unclear. Finally, there is always the possibility of a “faithless Elector” jumping to the other candidate as one Missouri Elector did in 2016.
Election anxiety is not going away any time soon. Pass the Bourbon and the Pepto-Bismol in no particular order…
Tomorrow—How it all shakes out in Illinois and McHenry County races.