A couple of weeks ago, the pundits were very sure of a Biden win. A big win. Some were even talking about a landslide. Over the weekend, people got more nervous.
The 2016 election bit the pundits in the ass four years ago, so they must be careful this time. We could look at repeat scenario where Biden wins the popular vote, but loses the electoral college due to Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona, so national polling data isn’t reliable. On top of all that, we’re in the midst of a pandemic, so lots of states, like New Jersey, is only accepting paper ballots, and other states are getting massive numbers of mail-in ballots. It could take a lot of time to count all the paper and mail-in ballots.
And Trump himself is a loose cannon. What happens if he doesn’t concede? What if his supporters go berserk. What if Biden supporters lose their shit? The business in Manhattan are boarding up their shop windows now. Very worrisome.
My friend, Mark, runs Keep Our Republic, a DC group that has been beating the drum all year predicting that Trump will pull some funny business and refuse to leave office. Mark is married to my best friend from high school. I’ve known him for more than thirty years. He’s very smart. If he’s worried, I am worried.
I have about the worst week ahead of me. We’re taking Ian up to New Haven for a full brain evaluation on Wednesday morning. Over the weekend, the insurance company denied our pre-approval form for the $6,000 exam, so I am going to be on the phone all morning with the insurance company. But this is important. I will be here passing along information as I get it. If you don’t see me on the blog, find me on twitter.
Let’s pray for a decisive win. We will need it.
23 thoughts on “A Nail Biter or a Landslide?”
All eyes on Pennsylvania tomorrow night. Good luck to you and your family, Laura.
Same to you, Russell!
Best wishes with the testing.
The testing results will be predictable — extremely high non-verbal IQ; low, but still average verbal IQ; poor conversational and speech skills; highly vulnerable to Tom Selleck’s reverse mortgage schemes. We’re going up there to get some advice about next steps for Ian. They do this all day, every day, so it’s super useful. I’ve been dealing with insurance company, doctor’s, and Yale’s pre-screening tests for five hours straight. I’m going to the mall now to stretch my legs.
Hope you learn lots with the “full brain evaluation”. Being a brain nerd, I find those fascinating.
“Let’s pray for a decisive win. We will need it. ‘
I do wonder how many elections we can have in which the national majority does not match the electoral college win/senate/house before people in parts of the country decide that elections in the US are not receiving the consent of the governed.
bj said, “I do wonder how many elections we can have in which the national majority does not match the electoral college win/senate/house before people in parts of the country decide that elections in the US are not receiving the consent of the governed.”
I know it feels like it happens all the time, but it really doesn’t:
2000 (in 2004, GWB won by 3 million votes more than John Kerry)
The United States is…a union of states. Hence, it makes sense for the presidential election to be decided by states’ “votes.”
These were, after all, the terms on which states accepted membership in the union.
If people want to change from the electoral college to a popular vote, it’s quite simple to do so:
Introduce the proposed amendment by either
a) “A two-thirds (supermajority) vote of members present—if a quorum exists—in both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States Congress”
b) “A majority vote of state delegations at a national convention called by Congress called at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (at present 34) of the states. (This method has never been used.)”
Then ratify by either
a) “The legislatures of three-fourths (at present 38) of the states”
b) “State ratifying conventions in three-fourths (at present 38) of the states.”
We have 27 amendments to the Constitution–if there’s a solid enough consensus, amendments can be made.
I would argue that the 1876 & 1888 elections are an example of the beginning of dysfunction in the legitimacy of the American vote (according the rules set in the constitutional as opposed to the dysfunction written into the constitution). The 1824 election was a mess in which no one got a majority of the vote).
Bush did win the national vote in 2004 showing me that though I disagreed, the majority of Americans really did consent to the president. If the 2020 election were decided by a majority in the nation I would have to similarly resign myself to sad acceptance.
The constitutional structure of the electoral college was based on giving states weight and to support the power of the slave states; in the beginning the largest state was about 10X the population of the smallest. Now, the largest state is 67X the size of the smallest. If the electoral college structure occasionally (and potentially randomly) produced different results from the majority, I’d be resigned to the idea that there is no perfect system of elections that does all the different things we want (including giving weight to the geographic diversity of our country).
But, if the electoral college and the majority of the people deliver different results regularly and consistently (the statistic right now is that in this millennium, one party has won majority support in the nation 80% of the time, but only controlled the presidency 40% of the time, but I don’t call that regularly yet; n=5 is small) I think it becomes appropriate to question whether our governments have the consent of the governed.
One solution to the systemic failure would be a constitutional amendment, though of course, that would require an allegiance to the principles of democracy among the people of a majority of the states (which seem to be in short supply — see, for example, the attempts of the GOP to discard the 100K+ votes of legitimate voters in Harris county). But, there is also the popular vote coalition (which I do not approve of, both because it can be undone at any time and because I do believe that states should weight our elections). There is also secession. Note that none of my considerations of institutional change advocate violence.
bj said, “The constitutional structure of the electoral college was based on giving states weight and to support the power of the slave states.”
Does that make sense?
The #1 state by population in 1790 was Virginia, with a large enslaved population.
#2 was Pennsylvania, with a very small enslaved population.
#3 was North Carolina, with a large enslaved population.
#4 was Mass, with no slaves.
#5 was New York, with a small enslaved population.
#6 was Maryland, with a large enslaved population.
#7 was South Carolina, with a very large enslaved population
#8 was Connecticut, with a very small enslaved population.
There’s no discernible pattern here, aside from the fact that slave-owning Virginia was a monster in 1790, having over 300,000 more residents than its closest rival. Circa 1790, the electoral college diluted the power of a massive slave-owning state.
Also, the 3/5 compromise was (fairly explicitly) designed to make the slave states less powerful than they would otherwise have been.
“I think it becomes appropriate to question whether our governments have the consent of the governed.”
There are options–secession (as you mention), breaking up big states into little states, moving to Wyoming, etc.
“that would require an allegiance to the principles of democracy among the people of a majority of the states (which seem to be in short supply — see, for example, the attempts of the GOP to discard the 100K+ votes of legitimate voters in Harris county).”
Didn’t a judge just overturn that?
“But, there is also the popular vote coalition (which I do not approve of, both because it can be undone at any time and because I do believe that states should weight our elections).”
I think that agreement is eventually likely to burn some participants.
“Note that none of my considerations of institutional change advocate violence.”
With regard to the “consent of the governed”–may I suggest federalism? It slices, it dices, it makes your whites whiter and your brights brighter. It’s ideal for a geographically large, ethnically and socially diverse democracy.
A lot of the US’s problems could be solved by not trying to do everything as a single group all the time. Our problems closely resemble those of big family get-togethers when people insist that the whole group HAS to do everything together all the time and things unavoidably start getting tense and unpleasant.
Texas is by law permitted to break up into 5 smaller states if it wishes to.
If it did so evenly, each of the daughter states would have a bigger population than Oregon.
A judge overturning the effort of the Republicans to toss out the votes because they guess they are for democrats only reinforces that the Republicans are the party of not wanting people to vote (unless they think the voter is Republican).
The group is appealing the federal decision.
Cool tidbit about Texas having rights to split up under their annexation. I was unaware. That’s a solution, too, states splitting up, or allocating their electoral votes differently.
And, the Harris county clerk just closed 9/10 drive through locations because he is concerned about the potential ruling on the appeal made by the Republicans. So the Republicans succeeded in making it harder for the people to vote, while losing the case.
bj said, “A judge overturning the effort of the Republicans to toss out the votes because they guess they are for democrats only reinforces that the Republicans are the party of not wanting people to vote (unless they think the voter is Republican).”
Andrew Hanen was appointed by George W. Bush and seems to be a fairly conservative guy, judging by his Wikipedia.
His decision was then affirmed by a 3-judge panel of judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.
US federal checks and balances work pretty well!
Republicans trying to do the wrong thing and being stopped (potentially temporarily) does not absolve them of the wrong of their actions.
And, as of this morning, uncertainty was resulting in a closure of the voting locations: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/11/02/harris-county-drive-thru-locations-closed/
Will the Republicans appeal again?
I will never always rail against those who try to disenfranchise citizens and especially in a state where voter suppression was so overt and purposeful with the single minded objective of not sharing power with Blacks.
“ To restrict African Americans from voting, white officials often established polling places far from African American communities. The roads and bridges to the polling places often were blocked on election day, or the polling place was changed at the last minute without informing African American voters” https://www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/forever/endofanera/page4.html
Robert Lloyd Smith (1897) was the last African American to serve as a state legislator until 1966 when three African-American legislators were elected (including Barbara Jordan).
I’m thinking about the 1960 election.
Kennedy won the popular vote by 0.17%. Supposedly.
There was also craziness like Kennedy won California until the absentee ballots were counted the next week and then he lost the state by 17,000 votes. And he had lost Hawaii, but there was a recount and then he won—by 115 votes.
If that kind of stuff happens with this election, people will lose their minds.
Oh, and by “accept” I mean emotionally accept. I recognize that the electoral college is the current law of the land.
New York City was empty today–lots of people have fled the City until after the election. And my wife reports that the supermarkets were jammed with people stocking up, as they do when a hurricane is coming. Despite some people’s overwrought fantasies, my Upper West Side neighbors are not stocking up in fear of rampaging mobs of Trump supporters, because there aren’t any around here.
My cab driver this morning noted the empty streets, but wasn’t sure of why. I explained that people had fled town for fear of election violence, and he said sadly, “This country has changed.” He was either Caribbean or African, from his accent.
Yeah, I can’t imagine riots in NYC even if Trump wins. Disgust and anger, yes. This is a little weird for me.
You don’t need to imagine. We’ve had plenty of RL looting this year in the City. But not by Trump supporters.
Maybe Joe Biden can put an end to the carnage in Trump’s America.
Or at least come to the funerals. https://time.com/4403543/president-obama-dallas-shooting-memorial-service-speech-transcript/
And maybe someday Trump will show some concern for the 700 people who might have died of Covid after attending his rallies. But that would be utter fantasy to imagine.
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