I hope that I am not tempting fate by saying this but a Biden presidency seems almost inevitable. Biden is ahead narrowly in Pennsylvania and Georgia with the momentum of postal votes behind him. He is also ahead in Nevada and Arizona although by very slim margins and the trend of the late votes in Arizona being against him. Trump may really regret insulting Arizona’s favourite son John McCain, presuming that he is capable of expressing regret.
The way things are looking Biden could win the presidency by a similar margin that Trump won it in 2016, 304 electoral college votes to 227. He is also currently ahead of Trump by over 4 million votes in total. This will increase as California has only tallied 77% of its total vote.
Georgia’s margin is razor thin, currently 4,263 votes out of nearly 4.9 million votes in total. Never let anyone say to you that voting does not matter. An Auckland work acquaintance who is originally from Georgia and was determined to vote for change will be one of those votes.
Trump has responded with all of the magnanimity and panache that has been associated with his time as President as well the way that he conducts himself in business. From Russell Berman in the Atlantic:
President Donald Trump tonight raised the threat of a constitutional crisis to a new level. He issued an extraordinary series of baseless charges about the election he is on the verge of losing—that Democrats were stealing the vote, that the media had deliberately released “phony polls” to suppress Republican turnout, that “corrupt” officials in Detroit and Philadelphia were finding Democratic ballots to whittle away his supposed lead.
They were shocking things for a sitting president to say. He promised “a lot of litigation” and held out hope that the Supreme Court, now with a 6–3 conservative majority thanks to his appointments, would save him. But despite his fighting words, his body language betrayed a far different tone. He read from a prepared statement on his lectern, barely looking up at the cameras, his voice a flat monotone devoid of the verve he deploys to whip thousands of people into a frenzy at his rallies. The president’s most devout loyalists respond best to his energy, to the high-decibel passion, and occasionally indignant anger, that he brings to the stump. This speech contained none of that. Trump is a showman who prizes presentation above everything else, who watches his interviews with the sound off, who critiques appearances with precision, who famously mocks his opponents as “sleepy” and “low energy.” When Trump goes back to watch his performance tonight, he’ll see a salesman who wasn’t selling.
The media response to his speech is something that I have never seen. A broad withering condemnation of what he said, evey by Murdoch owned press outlets. Again from the Atlantic:
On Fox News, John Roberts described Trump’s remarks as the words of a man who was losing and trying to hold on to power. Even the loyal New York Post described the president as “downcast” and his charges as “baseless.” The talkers on CNN were even more withering: Jake Tapper deemed the appearance a disgrace. “We knew the president wasn’t going to lose gracefully, if he lost,” he told viewers. “But frankly, watching him flail like this is just pathetic.” Trump’s lone nominal defender on the network, former Senator Rick Santorum, said the president’s accusations were without merit and “dangerous.” Anderson Cooper likened the president to “an obese turtle on his back, flailing in the hot sun.”
Trump will not go quietly. A large team of lawyers are fanning through states without a decisive margin and arraying a variety of arguments which basically involve arguing that some votes should be counted and others should not be counted depending on the perceived benefit to Trump. There is no commitment to all valid votes being counted and the American people have their say, just a willingness to rort the rules for personal advantage, something that Trump has done all of his life. And the arguments are getting extreme with lawyers fretting about observers being able to get close to vote counters in Covid ravaged America.
The Georgian result, should it hold, is particularly significant and two people, Stacey Abrams and Greg Palast deserve praise for ensuring that in a state where voting manipulation has been rife actually came through.
I wrote this two years in a post about voter suppression and about Abram’s unsuccessful Governor’s bid in Georgia where she almost pulled off an exceptional upset:
But one example really struck a nerve with me. The example was the Georgian governor’s race where the Democrat candidate Stacey Abrams, a black woman, looks like she may have only just fallen short in her attempt to become the first black governor in a state whose history was mired in slavery and where the force of the Voting Rights Act was required to force that state to begrudgingly start to respect that most basic of human rights.
The Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, proudly billed himself as a Trump conservative. He was Georgia’s secretary of state and even though he was a candidate and had so much hanging on the result he continued to oversee the elections in that state. So much for independent and impartial oversight.
Here is the kicker. For the past few years Abrams has been busy doing her best to make sure that as many people as possible could exercise their democratic rights, and for many years Kemp has been doing his best to make sure they couldn’t.
My post details all of the shenanigans that Kemp tried, including disenfranchising half a million Georgians including the 92 year old cousin of Martin Luther King who was involved in the original movement to gain the vote back in the 1960s.
Greg Palast also deserves praise. He is an investigative journalist who has highlighted the use of roll purges particularly in Georgia and took Kemp to Court over his actions.
Of course purging of roles is not the only thing that occurs. There is also the disproportionately long waits in black areas for the chance to vote. And a myriad of other steps taken to favour the right as much as possible.
With New Zealand having recently completed its election process efficiently and comprehensively it is hard to imagine why America can’t. But this bias appears to be a feature, not a bug.
Presuming Biden gets there how America handles the transition will be important. Trump has riled up a large proportion of the population. It is almost impossible to understand how so many Americans could have voted for him but clearly they are loyal and many of them believe the damndest of things.
I do not think it to be an overstatement to say that how America handles the next couple of months will determine its future. With Don Trump junior tweeting about “total war” and Steve Bannon about having Anthony Fauci’s head on a stake we are at a very delicate stage in terms of the rhetoric being used.
And the really sad thing is that the whole election campaign has been one super Covid spreader event. Overnight the US had 122,000 new reported infections, smashing the previous record of 100,000. And the seven day rolling average trend line is going one way.
Hang in there America. This is going to get rough.