I have delayed evaluating my predictions for this election because ... I am so tired. It is not that we don't know who won or where they won, but simple exhaustion. I fared much better this time at the Presidential level than the Senate level ... just like everyone else.
So, re the Presidency, I let my enthusiasm get the best of me as I chose Texas to go blue. It was not close, but it was closer than previous elections. It may happen one day, but not this time. I also got Ohio wrong--I thought that Trump's failed trade wars would make a dent and that Joe would be able to reach out to blue-collar whites. In both cases, I thought that the reports of bigtime turnout would help the Dems. But it turns out that the GOP also showed up.
I got right Arizona (so far), Georgia, Pennsylvania, and the upper midwest. I also was right to be skeptical about Florida. If they hadn't been able to poll tax the re-enfranchised African-Americans, who knows what might have happened there. But I had faith in Florida's ability to mess things up. Biden won the election with a record number of votes, but not as big of a margin as we expected. Which leads to what I got wrong about the overall dynamics.
It is too soon to say what really happened because the exit polls may be trash--that they only really sample those who voted and we know that is a biased sample. But we know that the GOP turned out and didn't leave Trump. We do know that those independents and the few GOP who did leave Trump split their tickets to limit what Biden can do. I don't know if talk of court packing and creating two new states helped to push these folks to split their tickets. What I am pretty sure of:
- Fear of loss of power is a thing, that prospect theory (this week's concept for my IR class) tells us that people will gamble more to avoid losses than to get gains. And white folks fear losing power. So, they turned out and voted for Trump.
- Trump's messaging, as dumb as it seemed, worked--that Cuban-Americans and others believe the shit about Biden being a socialist.
- The pandemic probably hurt the Dems, rather than helped, as they didn't do much of a ground game. Those places where they did have a ground game, they did pretty well, but door-to-door campaigning favored the GOP this time because, well, they don't care about spreading the virus.
- What I got wrong was expecting Trump to get blamed for the crappy pandemic response or for the breaking of the US Postal Service. I just thought there would be some attrition due to those related processes, but nope.
- Probably because the two separate Americas has become even more distant. I was reminded it is not just Fox but Sinclair--the network of local tv stations pushing out far right garbage systematically every day across the country--that means that a large chunk of America just does not grasp the reality of the day. People will blame the Dems for not being able to reach rural voters, but it may be that they are so bubbled that they are essentially unreachable.
- The GOP has a harder problem--they can't reach the cities and the suburbs. They have alienated the youth with their intolerance, and they are literally killing their base by encouraging anti-masking, crowding (that is the opposite of social distancing), and anti-science. In the Georgia runoffs in January, there may be fewer GOP able to vote because of the spread of the disease, which is ripping through rural America.
- The Dems do need to move beyond gerontocracy--they need to have a non-Schumer run their side in the Senate, Pelosi should start prepping the way towards a successor.
Tuesday, November 3rd, was a good day. It was not a great day, but it was a necessary day. Trump will be out of power come January 21st. The arsonists will be on the run, seeking to avoid prosecution. And the hard part of governing will begin. Good luck, Joe and Kamala, as the hand you have been dealt is actually worse than the one that Obama started with, and that is pretty hard to imagine.