Last Friday, the writing on the wall became clear for those among us who, with bated breath, awaited the outcome of the US presidential race when the vote lead in the states of Georgia (a Red/Republican state) and Pennsylvania (a Blue/Democrat state) shifted to Biden.
The two states of a handful of remaining states were absolutely essential for Trump to win re-election. Pennsylvania with its 20 Electoral College votes and Georgia with its 16 Electoral College votes were unquestionably indispensable for President Trump to win, for his bid for re-election. Trump can’t win the Presidency without these two remaining states. President Donald Trump won both states in 2016. Both states continue to show consistent numbers of a Biden lead. The areas where mail-in ballots were still to be counted were coming from Democrat-leaning counties.
The last time a US president did not win reelection was when George Bush lost to Bill Clinton. Candidate Ross Perot played a key role in making that possible by splitting Republican votes.
In this election, even if a huge percentage of voters had the economy as the main consideration in their vote choice, a big number of voters also had the handling or mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic as a factor in their choice for president. With over 220,000 Americans killed by the virus, and the threat of Trump to abolish the Affordable Care Act, I think it had an impact on people voting for Biden.
If one were to base it on social media posts, the concept of mail-in votes proved to be the biggest pitfall among Trump’s loyal campaigners. Worse, the lack of understanding made it easy for them to cry “Stop the count!” The traditional campaign mindset is to correlate the perceived drove of support in the voting centers with imminent victory. Such is not the case in a scenario where physical presence was clearly “trumped” by the power of snail mail.
As we had expected and anticipated, a huge number of voters had availed of early voting. Remember, the US, has had a surge in the number of infections. On the day of the elections, about 100,000 Americans were infected with the coronavirus every day. Over a hundred million Americans chose to vote via mail-in voting (including drop-box voting) or personal voting before election day. As expected, most of the over 100 million early voters were registered Democrats.
So, on election day, some states saw a surge of votes for Trump in the early count, since their votes were being counted BEFORE most of the counties started to count early in-person and mail-in ballots. But when the counties started to count the early ballots, the number of votes for Biden expectedly increased and overcame the vote lead of Trump, especially in competitive states. Of the important competitive states that counted mail-in ballots, only Florida was positioned to do it speedily. Florida did eventually go red, but surprisingly not because of the elderly voters (who traditionally vote Republican), but interestingly enough, Trump got votes from the immigrant voters. I’ll write about this next time.
Many will ask why did Biden have a surge of votes in the early voting ballots? It’s actually very simple. President Trump had for months consistently told his supporters to vote in person on election day. In his rallies, Trump would repeatedly tell his voters not to vote by mail, assailing early voting. So naturally, many of his supporters did vote on election day, specially in crucial swing states. While many Democrats chose early voting. There’s a lot of analysis regarding the voting patterns, but we can discuss that in the future column.
Now, the real work starts. How do you govern a country as divided as the US in, which, to this day, Trump and his surrogates still continue to encourage violence? In fact, the Twitter account of Steve Bannon was suspended because he called for the beheading of Dr. Fauci and other people. Can you believe that? How do you begin to start repairing the division in the US which has even broken up families? How do you fix the problem of the white supremacists and racists who all came out of their closets when Trump won?
For sure, the road ahead for the US is an incredibly difficult one. But at least the first and most important step was taken. Over 70 million Americans cast their vote in the November 3, 2020, elections, the greatest number of votes for President in history. They sent a collective message to President Trump, telling him, “You’re fired!”.
Stay safe. Maintain physical distancing. Wear a mask.