Election Thoughts

A lot to think about, not a lot of conclusions.

To de-clutter my mind, some various thoughts:

Surprise? What happened last night, a seeming Trump advantage and then having to wait on mail-in ballots that likely favor Biden is what we were warned about. I think a lot of us allowed hope to override that warning. And here we are. I noted a while back that we were going to have to wait on WI and PA specifically, and they are now pivotal.

Polling and Modeling. It is too early to know how wrong they were, but at the moment it seems for sure that the polling in Florida (and elsewhere) was off and while there are still millions of ballots to count, the ~+8 popular vote gap for Biden looks substantially off. To be fair to the 538 model, it has stated from the beginning that Pennsylvania being the tipping point state was high, and it could yet be that state.

There will be a lot to tear apart here and I won’t even try at the moment. It will require final tallies to really understand where the errors were.

The Popular Vote. According to the CNN count, Biden currently has 50.2% of the popular vote to Trump’s 48.3% (just over +2.5 million for Biden). In any other system of election of a president used anywhere else in the world, Biden would be the clear leader and while we might still be waiting for final results, the odds of him winning would be high.

I would note that the odds are that the popular vote gap will grow in Biden’s favor no matter what happens in the Electoral College.

Let that sink in.

Biden has the Better Path. Here’s the AP-based map at NPR, Biden has 238 EVs to Trump’s 213:

If Biden wins Nevada (6), Wisconsin (10), and Michigan (16) that gives him the needed 32 EVs needed to get to 270. That means he can lose PA, NC, and GA and still win.

Trump has the far harder path. Of course, given the popular vote situation, that we have to take about “paths” underscores the absurdity of the EC yet again.

I hope that it does not come down to just one state, however, as that would allow for a legal fight recall of 2000. We don’t need that.

One Flip: It is worth underscoring that Biden did flip Arizona and Trump has flipped nothing and if he wins, it will be without any flips. Georgia and NC could yet flip, and if Georgia does that would be a big deal. But I would not recommend holding one’s breath.

The Senate. Looks like if Biden pulls this out, the Congress is likely to remain split. Effective legislation is, therefore largely dead (and will be even if Trump wins, the House remains in Democratic hands and so we will be in for deja vu all over again).

Minority-Leaning Institutions Reign. Again, the drama over the presidency is because of the Electoral College and the legislative dysfunction will likely persist because of the Senate. It won’t be because the majority of the population wants it to be that way.

No Repudiation. I think that a lot of us who have profound and sincere fears about our democracy writ large, as well as concerns about basic good governance, had hoped for a real repudiation of Trumpism. No matter what happens when the dust all settles, there will have been no repudiation. This will have significant effects on the Republican Party, American public policy, and international politics.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    Biden has moved ahead in MI. It is looking like he will in fact win even without PA.

    See What’s Left in the Seven States That Will Decide the Race

    ReplyReply
  2. An Interested Party says:

    Biden has moved ahead in MI. It is looking like he will in fact win even without PA.

    Is this something he would even want to win at this point? McConnell’s new goal will be to make Biden a one term president and the Senate will not allow Biden to get anything done, and if Biden tries to do things solely through the Executive, I’m sure that a majority of SCOTUS, which had previously loved executive power, will change its tune real quick…

    ReplyReply
    2
  3. SKI says:

    @An Interested Party: uh. yeah. by a huge amount.

    The costs of not winning are catastrophic and the ability to run against a oppositional Congress has worked in the past for Presidents.

    It is one thing for Mitch to not bring up anything when Trump has the bully pulpit. It is quite another when the House sends over very popular bills and the President and the Administration are blasting the Senate for not even bringing them to a vote.

    ReplyReply
    6
  4. An Interested Party says:

    @SKI: You’re right, of course…it all just seems quite disappointing compared to what the (now very dubious) polls told us…perhaps Biden can be successful with a strategy of running against the Senate…at least we’ll be rid of the odious Trump…

    ReplyReply
  5. mattbernius says:

    One lesson from last night, we really should get rid of tinted maps as they are really misleading because of the variability of vote reporting/counting and simply don’t add any real value beyond creating stress and uncertainty.

    ReplyReply
    2
  6. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius:

    One lesson from last night, we really should get rid of tinted maps as they are really misleading because of the variability of vote reporting/counting and simply don’t add any real value beyond creating stress and uncertainty,

    Indeed. Although CNN did worse than tinted maps–they used solid Red/Blue regardless of whether a state had been called or a candidate was leading after 8% of the votes were counted. It was just nuts.

    ReplyReply
    2
  7. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:
    Agreed on CNN.

    And it also isn’t just the networks. The WaPo had a tinted electoral vote meter this morning that was equally bad and showed Trump winning as of 7am (albeit in tinted red).

    ReplyReply
    1
  8. @SKI:

    uh. yeah. by a huge amount.

    The costs of not winning are catastrophic

    Agreed. I am not all thrilled, for a host of reasons, by a Rep Senate and Biden Presidency, but four more years of Trump would be a sincerely major catastrophe.

    ReplyReply
    1
  9. @mattbernius: @James Joyner: @mattbernius: Indeed, whether TV or online, I don’t understand the choices being made on these maps.

    But yes, CNN was extremely weird last night. Thye had Alabama blue for quite a while, for crying out loud!

    ReplyReply
    1
  10. Jay L Gischer says:

    Yeah, it looks like not random variation but some sort of systematic error. Is this the “shy Trump voter” showing up? Misses in TX and FL were maybe within the margin of error, but everyone is wrong in the same direction. Likewise in other places.

    I have a circus of conspiracy theories running around my head, and I wish they would shut up.

    ReplyReply
    1
  11. An Interested Party says:

    In my earlier question to SKI, I wasn’t asking so much about the difference between a Biden win or a Trump win, as obviously a Biden win is extremely preferable to a Trump win, I was wondering more about how will Biden be able to govern, as I’m sure McConnell will try to torment him at every turn…

    ReplyReply
  12. @An Interested Party: Any chance of serious domestic governance is dead, it would seem.

    And, of course, deficits and the debt are about to become extremely important again to Mitch McConnell.

    ReplyReply
    2
  13. An Interested Party says:

    And, of course, deficits and the debt are about to become extremely important again to Mitch McConnell.

    Hmm…so with a still desperate need for help for state/local governments and for people because of the pandemic, McConnell will repeat his insistence that governments declare bankruptcy and tell people who need help to forget about it…lovely…

    ReplyReply
  14. DrDaveT says:

    The Senate. […] Effective legislation is, therefore largely dead

    Also, any chance of holding Republicans accountable for their actions through threat of impeachment. As long as there’s a GOP majority in the Senate, they’re bulletproof.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*