Biden’s Win is Real; Trump’s Reaction Is the Week’s Second ‘Red Mirage’
Now That I’m Breathing Again, It’s Easier To See Election Week’s Two Roller Coaster Rides
Yes, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the presidency and vice presidency.
Given the undercurrent of complaints about the Democratic victory during Election Week — and that’s from the Democratic side! — it seems necessary to assert that a win a win. And this win is big. Or big enough.
It’s not a landslide. But it is a mandate. Especially in a country clearly divided. Even in a country with people fundamentally more alike rather than different.
E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist for The Washington Post, wrote Sunday that Biden’s victory “is far more substantial than the conventional take would have it and more revelatory about the future than Donald Trump’s election was four years ago.”
Dionne notes that Biden will likely end up with 306 Electoral College votes, precisely the same number Trump touted for years as his big win.
Biden will likely turn out to have flipped five states to the Democratic side. He will have restored Democratic dominance in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, carrying the northern states by wider margins than Trump won. (Biden also flipped the Omaha region, earning one electoral vote from Nebraska, which splits its electoral votes.)
Biden, Dionne writes, “won the vote with 75 million ballots — more than any presidential candidate in history — and enjoys a lead of more than 4 million that is likely to grow substantially” as votes continue to be counted. You cannot sneeze at the record turnout in the election.
Biden will have brought Democratic victory to Arizona and Georgia for the first time in decades. For Georgia, it’s just in time, as a tuned-up Democratic machine, performing to Stacey Abrams’ specifications, can return U.S. Senate control to the Democrats if it can coax victories in the January 5th runoffs for Jon Ossoff and The Rev. Raphael Warnock.
This CNN map (I do love maps) from Sunday night shows the current tally with Pennsylvania and Nevada called for the Democrats and four states — Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina — still in limbo. It seems clear, though, that is likely to shake out to Biden wins in the Grand Canyon and Peach states but a Trump win in the Tar Heel and Last Frontier states. (You kind of have to squint to see Alaska in this map, but it’s there!)
Yes, Democrats lost seats in the House and failed, so far, to secure the Senate. But the biggest reason the Biden-Harris victory seems weak is that it took so long and it has been subjected to criticism from Trump forces.
Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com wrote: “This is a map that almost any Democrat would have been thrilled about if you’d shown it to them a year ago. … Extrapolating from current vote totals, I project Biden winning the popular vote by 4.3 percentage points and getting 81.8 million votes to President Trump’s 74.9 million, with a turnout of around 160 million. … I’d probably bet on Biden’s popular vote margin winding up at closer to 5 points than to 4, and 6 points isn’t entirely out of the question either.”
Experts predicted a “red mirage” during the past week, and we got it, double.
First was the expected “red mirage.” The day-of-election votes cast in person at the polls were counted first in most states, leading to an impression that Trump was ahead. Thanks to rules prohibiting counting mail-in and drop-off votes until after the polls closed, and the necessity to process these ballots individually, it took days for the Biden lead to show up in several states.
We were warned this red mirage would happen, yet I was in a funk for several days staring at the Trump-dominant map. I was as duped as a desert traveler staring at a fake watering hole.
Then came the second red mirage. We were warned that Trump would protest any loss and mount an all-out legal challenge in states where Biden is the winner or at least the vote leader.
Instead, we got an uncoordinated and unconvincing string of legal actions in which Trump every time was the loser when courts ruled.
In the Saturday declaration of Neal Katyal, a lawyer celebrated for his record before the Supreme Court, Trump promised a fight and delivered “bupkis.” In a podcast on Sunday, Katyal said Trump’s legal strategy is weak. It centers on throwing out votes, which courts are loathe to do. It asserts tiny technicalities that add up to not very much. (Bupkis!) And because Trump lost in many states, he has to fight battles in many states. Daunting, compared to the 2000 presidential legal fight, centering on just one state, namely Florida.
Unfocused as Trump’s strategy is, his ability to persuade people with his Twitter megaphone produced a second red mirage, a notion of Republican strength that simply did not exist.
Two red mirages in a week. No wonder Election Week was a roller coaster.
But we have a winner, a big winner.
Before wrapping up this post, I want to share a excellent few articles I’ve read that have influenced me during the weekend.
- Politico presents a roundup of likely candidates for each seat in Biden’s cabinet. I recommend, “Meet the contenders for Biden’s Cabinet: The president-elect is expected to nominate a mix of progressives, moderates and even a few Republicans as he seeks to satisfy a broad coalition.”
- Tales of how Trump lost and Biden won. Go behind the Oz curtains with Politico’s “‘This f — ing virus:’ Inside Donald Trump’s 2020 undoing.” And look at telltale locations on the map with Politico’s “How Biden won his map: On election eve, Politico identified 21 places that were poised to have a significant impact on the presidential race. Here’s a look at the role they played.”
- Checkout the newest clash between Wilmington and Washington with The Washington Post’s report, “A little-known Trump appointee is in charge of handing transition resources to Biden — and she isn’t budging.”
- For total nuttiness and commotion, read about the Trump campaign denouement that seems more like a Marx Brothers movie. From The Washington Post’s Style Section, “It began on a gold escalator. It may have ended at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.”