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I’ve been biting my tongue on Facebook and Snoozing friends as fast as most of them can opine on the election. Feelings there are still running strong on all sides; informed opinions are few and far between. My ADHD has been pulling me in multiple directions, but the last thing anyone there needs is that “well, akshully…” guy.
But I have to say something, somewhere. So here are some of my observations and opinions about the “state of the race” just so I can speak my mind without nuking my friends list on FB. I can’t claim any great originality or insight, but I needed at least a couple of steps back to look at things outside the bonfire and gather my thoughts.
- I understand both the “just get it over with already!” crowd and the “it ain’t over ’til it’s over!” crowd. I empathize with both, in fact. I vacillate between them myself several times a day.
- But my stance, to both camps, is that it isn’t over when the media says it is; it’s over when the votes are certified. Whether or not it’s sporting for Trump to wait until it’s official, he remains perfectly within his legal right and I refuse to criticize him for choosing to not Just Concede Already.
- There are, as Erick Erickson notes, voting irregularities. Fraud does indeed happen, and there’s a lot that stinks. Accusations should be investigated. Every person who commits election fraud should be mercilessly prosecuted. Every legal vote should be counted.
- The operative question is whether the known shenanigans are sufficient to make a state flip officially to Trump. As of this moment, I’m open to that possibility existing in enough states to matter…but I’m not convinced it’s inevitable. It’s why I’m content to wait for certification – I can honestly respond “we shall see” without taking a stand. (I’m not a lawyer, so I have no power to influence those knee-deep in the process other than to cheer them on.)
- I don’t have the confidence to say Trump won in a landslide, and all contrary evidence is fraudulent. Some do. I don’t. From my perspective, this is a close race.
- In my view, the most important thing is for us to reach consensus by the time the votes are certified – love or hate the outcome, both sides should agree that the numbers reflect a legitimate victor. I’m enough of a realist to accept that’s not likely to happen.
- As a Dodgers fan, I grew up on “Wait ’til next year!” 2016 aside, that’s still my general approach; hate to lose, but there’s always next time. That we’ve begun to treat every election as The Most Important in the History of Ever is an indication that Washington has too darn much power, and if we want to make America less insane, that’s a good place to start. #MakeElectionsNonapocalypticAgain
- Election Day was an unholy mess this year, because it was took closer to a month from start of early voting to close of the polls. And too many next-day 4 a.m. arrivals cast understandable suspicion on the integrity of the results.
- There were vast differences in how and when votes were counted, and that just added to the confusion. If we want to make Election Day relevant again, we have to eliminate – and I do mean eliminate – the multi-week delay in the initial counting, and tighten up the early voting window so all votes can be counted within 24 hours of polls closing. But make the start of early voting late enough so we stop all those Google queries for “how do I change my vote?”
- I’d also like to see a firmer standard on voter identification. I’m not above the idea of purple paint (for fingers) and cigar cutters (for violators). I have a friend who lost multiple fingers in a table saw accident who has eagerly volunteered his hands as poster-stumps for voter fraud.
Now, a few observations about the numbers so far.
- It’s a really close race. Per this site, Biden leads by about 5 million votes nationally. Biden leads in California by…about 5 million. That’s his entire popular vote margin.
- (California remains the top argument in favor of retaining the electoral college. Biden won California; the stupidly lopsided score is one reason why we left.)
- Third-party votes dropped from 2016’s Perot-era 8.3 million to 2.7 million this year. Two-thirds of that are for the Libertarian party, which has earned over a million votes the last three cycles, a solid positive trend for them. Conversely, the Green party faded back to relative obscurity from its Ralph Nader heyday and Jill Stein’s resurgence.
- The arguments for a binary-choice election were much stronger this year. The choice for most Republicans was not Hillary or Trump, but Trump or None of the Above. He was a known personality, but not a known politician. Now he had a record to run on, and against.
- Give Trump credit: he will likely earn 10 million more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016. He can rightly boast that he pulled in more votes than Obama did in 2008, and unlike Obama, he didn’t lose support four years in. Trump expanded his popularity. This is beyond dispute.
- It was a good year for Republicans generally: gains in House seats, gains in state legislatures, and the Senate at least tied and likely to remain in Republican hands. The GOP vastly outperformed expectations in November.
- The other side of the coin is that Trump vastly expanded his personal unpopularity. Biden/Harris will finish at least 12 million votes higher than Clinton/Kaine.
- Along with his two wins with Obama, Biden topped 50% of the popular vote for the third time. Bill Clinton didn’t manage a true majority either time he ran. But this is skewed by California’s insane 2-to-1 margin.
- I’m sure there are strong feelings around Biden, but compared to Hillary Clinton he’s downright cuddly. (And sniffy. But I digress.) He may be a joke to many, even on his own side, but for many it’s affectionate. And for a nontrivial number of voters, the idea of a president who locks himself in the basement and shuts up for days on end is a welcome relief from Sir Tweets-a-Lot.
- This will have been an election won and lost at the margins. Forget the “popular” vote; while California’s choice for Biden was never in doubt, its 5 million vote surplus is meaningless…at least until more of those yahoos move to other states. [Says the recent CA escapee.] In most states, it’s darned close. (Yes, it’s a point I made previously, but it’s one I keep thinking about.)
- If Trump loses Arizona, I’ll personally blame his grudge match with the late Senator McCain, with an assist from the unimpressive, soon-to-be-former Senator McSally. I’ll deny Jeff Flake any credit whatsoever.
- If Trump loses, he loses a heartbreakingly close race, against daunting circumstances. In the same year he was impeached; in the same year as a global pandemic and significant economic crisis; at the end of four years of the media baying for his blood and lying shamelessly about him; with social media hyperactively conspiring to silence any news even remotely favorable to him or negative about his opponent. Yes, he made plenty of unforced errors, but the organized tide arrayed against him was downright biblical, and I really wish Dante were around to update his travelogue through the Inferno.
- If Trump is declared the winner after every attempt to stop him, I’ll cheer for him. And buy a Liberal Tears mug. Extra large, because we’ll need it.
So, that’s where I sit. Somewhere near the middle, but with both feet on the right. More sympathetic to Trump than four years ago, and energized against many of the same things he rages against, but not blind to his self-inflicted wounds. He hasn’t lost yet, and he’ll fight every step of the way. But the certification deadlines are approaching and he faces an uphill battle to reverse the current margins.Published in