Election Day in the US

by Harry on November 3, 2020

In 2016 I was blithely confident that Clinton would win right up till about the last 3 or 4 days. It wasn’t exactly because I believed the polls: I just couldn’t really believe that swing voters would vote for someone as manifestly nasty and ill-suited to office as Trump. Previous Presidents during my time in the States were not manifestly nasty, and whereas I assume that Nixon was, he was also obviously capable of doing the job, and anyway those were different times. I understood perfectly well, because Nate Silver kept insisting on it, that statistically there was a non-trivial chance that Trump would win. But I didn’t believe that enough of my new compatriots were either reckless or vicious enough to make him President.

Then, in the final few days, I became uneasy. (I think this unease informs the post that I made on election eve, which I thought was lighthearted and optimistic, but which my daughter interpreted as a prediction that Trump would win). Sure, there was the intervention by a major government agency attempting to influence the outcome. But what made me feel worse were i) noticing that my Republican, but previously never-Trumpish, relatives seemed to have become Stepford Wives/Husbands and ii) observing the complete lack of energy that students on campus seemed to have around the election. On the day itself, from the moment I walked to my office, I just felt dread.

Last week a 22-year-old told me that her best friend has thanked her to making her vote in 2016. Her friend had still not voted by 30 minutes before the polls closed, and K told her she had to go, that it would only take a minute, and that an election isn’t over till its over. Her friend says that, given that Trump won Wisconsin, she would never have forgiven herself if she hadn’t voted against him in her first election.

This time around? Well the previously never-Trumpish relatives are still in Stepford. And while I spend most of most working days on campus, its a very lonely place — I never see colleagues, and the students are sparse. Even so the early polling stations that were up over the past couple of weeks were full of students voting whenever I passed (often at not-at-all peak times). I predict that on my campus the student vote will be very high indeed. My instagram feed is packed with students and former students urging their friends and family to vote, telling them exactly how to do it, and for whom to vote. Even the young Sanders enthusiasts whose friends were anxious that they would not vote for Biden have fallen into line. Whereas in 2016 Nate Silver was constantly emphasizing how likely a Trump win was despite the polls and his own model’s projection; in the last few weeks he has constantly been emphasizing how unlikely a Trump win is despite the polls and his own model’s projection.

I hope you all have a plan. Good luck, everyone.



Jeff Ryan 11.03.20 at 4:14 pm

The best anecdote I’ve heard so far: A guy pulls up to a long line of early voters, asks one “How long you been waitin’?”

The voter shouts, “Four years!”

I hope it’s a sign. I haven’t exhaled since Election Day 2016.


J-D 11.03.20 at 11:58 pm

I hope you all have a plan.

Since you mention it, I’ll tell you about my plan.

Four years ago I’d been paying careful attention to the news and then just as actual news of the results started arriving my attention was elsewhere until a friend called me and told me Trump had carried Florida.

This afternoon, I’ll be talking with some Year 5 students about animal rights and human rights as part of my role as a volunteer with this organisation:

So at about 3pm local time, which is about the time I gather early results are likely, I’ll be walking from the school back to my office to resume work, and I’ll check my phone for new on the way, or at least that’s my plan.


J-D 11.04.20 at 4:49 am

Well, that plan worked out perfectly! As far as it went …

We had an excellent discussion about rights, and then as I walked back to the office I checked my phone, and, well …

… now my plan is to finish out the work day and see what happens.


bad Jim 11.04.20 at 10:17 am

A “Trump Republican” who died of complications from Covid-19 one month ago has won a state legislature seat in North Dakota.


bad Jim 11.04.20 at 10:50 am

This evening has not gone as well as I expected. I find myself counseling my extended family against despair on our group text message channel, invoking my parents’ memories of the sleepless night of 1948. I also console them by pointing out the exponential rise of coronavirus infection and rising deaths throughout Europe and much of the US, which gets surprisingly little attention locally.

California kinda sorta has things under control. Everyone is masked where I go shopping or getting takeout. We still have levels of infection which preclude certain activities… to which I would like to be able to add “that other communities which have the problem under control are able to enjoy” but I can’t.

East Asia, Australia, New Zealand were able to quench community spread by shutting borders, masking up, relentlessly testing, tracing and isolating. Europe also got the death rate down to nothing, but now they’re making the U.S. look good. I’m sure there’s a lesson there, but I have not a clue what it is.


oldster 11.04.20 at 2:59 pm

10am on the East Coast, Nov. 4. After a rough night, it looks like there is still some reason for optimism about the presidential election. The polls seem to have been seriously wrong, and an overwhelming blue wave did not emerge. But if we can unseat the tyrant, that will be a big step.

I am deeply shocked that there are so many cultists around me — what is the blindness that they suffer from, and what hopes do we have of removing the scales from their eyes?

(Good story in the NYT today about how his voters who favor mask-use also overwhelmingly believe that he has promoted mask-use: a direct contradiction of the facts and the evidence, but they like him, so they assume that he says what they want him to say.)

I want a new president. But I desperately want a new citizen body, too. Lincoln asked us to be moved by the better angels of our nature, and hundreds of millions of Americans said, “nah. let’s run with the worse angels.”


reason 11.04.20 at 4:26 pm

It seems to me there were a surprisingly large number who voted against Trump for down ticket Republicans. Looks like the Democrats didn’t tie the Republican party to Trump as much as they should have done. I also am a bit puzzled as to why Texas was called so early. Still a lot of uncounted votes there.


craig fritch 11.05.20 at 1:02 am

I left the USA during Watergate. Best thing I ever did. Glad to be a Canadian. How can , Americans, such nice people, Be Like This?


Hidari 11.05.20 at 6:57 am

‘ Previous Presidents during my time in the States were not manifestly nasty’.

The word ‘manifestly’ is doing quite a lot of work there.


Tm 11.05.20 at 7:27 am

While this is not the Blue Wave suggested by the polls, Biden is on track to win a clear and convincing absolute majority of the vote. At the time of writing, the NYT reports 71,922,848 votes (50.4%) vs 68,315,823 (47.9%). The total vote is estimated at 160 million so 20 million votes remain to be counted and they will widen the lead.


J-D 11.05.20 at 7:35 am

It seems to me there were a surprisingly large number who voted against Trump for down ticket Republicans.

How large does the number have to be to be surprising? It doesn’t surprise me that there is some number of people who don’t vote a straight party ticket: so far I only know of one State (Maine) where the number of them was large enough for the Presidential contest to go one way and the Senatorial contest the other (I don’t know about other down-ticket contest).

Good story in the NYT today about how his voters who favor mask-use also overwhelmingly believe that he has promoted mask-use: a direct contradiction of the facts and the evidence, but they like him, so they assume that he says what they want him to say.

I have no experience of encountering people like that, but sometimes I imagine the situation, and the way I imagine myself responding is something like this: ‘Is that right? I did not know that. How did you find that out?’


nastywoman 11.05.20 at 8:01 am

”But I desperately want a new citizen body, too”.

Hey! –
And how GREAT that we agree 100 percent.


Tm 11.05.20 at 9:42 am

Liberals and progressives have to face the inconvenient truth: Trump is no accident. The people who still vote for him or even just voted for him for the first time knew what they were voting for. They are not a majority but a large minority of about 46% of Americans. This cannot be explained as people duped by fake populism. Trump had four years to make even the slightest gesture of populism (*) – the minimum wage, infrastructure spending, closing tax loopholes, whatever. There was nothing and plenty of the opposite. This is government for the plutocracy by the plutocracy. No factory jobs came back to the rustbelt. Yet roughly the same percentage of voters still stand by their man. They may claim otherwise when asked (oh those reliable polls and surveys) but this vote is in no shape or form economically motivated. Trump’s platform is racism and white supremacy and hatred and that is what his people voted for.

(*) Let’s take this opportunity to call out the ugly habit of many journalists to use populism as a polite synonym for racism. Populism is economic policy benefiting working people to the detriment of the rich. Or just any policy that materially benefits the lower strata of society. Racism isn’t populism.


nastywoman 11.05.20 at 1:18 pm

And from all the reactions in my homeland – the following one from Gail Collins was my favourite:

”how the hell could American voters have picked Trump to be president to begin with? And how, after four years of his Fib-a-Minute administration, could they have come even remotely close to re-electing him?
Excellent query, and I am happy to say that answering it will require us to go back to the early 1800s, when average Americans — OK, average American white males — got the right to vote. Popular elections took over from the rule of the elite property owners. The new voters, many of them in very small rural towns, led lives that were isolated and pretty darned boring.

Then in came politics! Newspapers, taking advantage of the expanding postal system, took the side of one party or another, with the strong expectation that editorial support would lead to advertising patronage. Political wheeler-dealers wooed voters with parades, dances and quite a bit of alcohol. The presidential contenders tended to be heavily along the war-hero line, and the drunken, parading, flag-waving elections were the closest thing many people had to entertainment.

Now, in a way, we’ve gone back — we’re watching elections work themselves out through a world of howling social media. It’s naturally chaotic, sometimes engrossing and occasionally — all right, often — horrifying. The voting process no longer necessarily involves a lot of drinking, though on nights like Tuesday, much of the citizenry may well have had to make up for lost time. (Keen-eyed observers have also noted that Tuesday featured a whole lot of election victories for legalizing drugs of many different kinds.)

The entertainment quotient is the key reason we have Trump in the White House in the first place. We’ve had racist, sexist presidents before, presidents with no real experience in government, presidents who struck associates as meanspirited, presidents whose personal finances were extremely messed up. But all at once is a lot.

And it’s sure not his analytic powers. Trump’s deconstruction of the evils of mail-in ballots has been the latest example of the depth of his thinking. (“It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov. 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws.”)

After that cry last week for quick public election results came an announcement Wednesday from Trump’s campaign that it was going to demand a recount in Wisconsin. Not comparable at all! But Trump’s campaign manager complained about “irregularities,” and you know how much trouble those irregularities are.

The president himself claimed a “major fraud” had been perpetrated on the nation in the form of a Trump defeat. So, he said, “we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court.” You remember the Supreme Court?

Trump doesn’t seem to have considered that if the vote-counting was stopped, among the disenfranchised citizens would be a lot of folks in the military who mailed in their ballots toward the end of the legal time period. And why not? Letting our soldiers vote is all well and good, but not if it gets in the way of a party.

“We were getting ready for a big celebration,” Trump complained on election night. “We were winning everything, and all of a sudden it was just called off.”

I hate it when victory celebrations are canceled due to vote-counting. The party was going to be vintage Trump — in the White House, short on masks, short on charm and short on social distancing.

Instead, he was stuck sending out letters to supporters along classic Trumpian lines, writing that he was “WINNING like no one thought possible right now,” but that “THE DEMOCRATS WILL TRY TO STEAL THIS ELECTION.” A fate that could apparently be avoided with the help of a $5 donation.

Meanwhile — what ever happened to Joe Biden? Is he gonna be president or something?

“I’m not here to declare we have won,” he said in an afternoon press conference on Wednesday. It was vintage Biden — he opened up with the promise of not saying anything exciting, then followed through.

He did, mention, however, that he thought he was “winning enough.” Works for me”.


Patrick 11.05.20 at 3:37 pm

Ok. Unkind, but regrettably serious question.

A political party’s platform declares its values and its goals.

Instead of a platform, this year the Republican Party just declared their support for Trump’s agenda. This kind of makes sense, conservatives are empty people who will find out what they believe in when Donald Trump tells them.

But if he loses the election, what then? Does the Republican Party just proceed without a platform for a while?

Or does Donald Trump sit on the sidelines and continue to tell my servile acquaintances and family what they believe?


likbez 11.06.20 at 6:13 am

I understood perfectly well, because Nate Silver kept insisting on it, that statistically there was a non-trivial chance that Trump would win

The most interesting scenario now what will happen if Trump lose and Biden (or whoever is the political force behind him) faces hostile Senate. And possibly both hostile Senate and the House in 2022.

Blue wave did not happen. That’s a fact. And that fact alone makes Biden victory, if any, Pyrrhic. Putting Biden administration in a very precarious position, worse then Trump in 2016. With the real possibility of launching “Chinagate” against him, using Russiagate template. A special prosecutor and such.

Epidemic and connected with it recession are not over. Senate is controlled by Republicans. Relation with China deteriorates and with Russia became outright hostile.

That’s enough rope to hang anybody.


bad Jim 11.06.20 at 9:43 am

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid

but they have wi-fi, so


Lee A. Arnold 11.06.20 at 12:35 pm

The politics will be fascinating because both parties have shown their internal splits a little more clearly. (The increasing likelihood of this emergence has been discussed in comments here for over ten years.) The voter substrate is resorting too, along an educational-economic line. And of course the voter geography is shifting.

There will be an awful lot of post mortems of this election — using “awful” in both of its American colloquial meanings: “very many” and “worthless”. And even “awfuller” predictions.

For my own bad predictions, I imagine that we could even see the emergence of a Seventh Party System (if you don’t know about these historical divisions, see “Political parties in the United States,” Wikipedia). Basically, the centrists in both parties would emerge to give Biden a few more legislative wins than you might imagine, whilst the populist elements in both party wings find a common ground in the “ameliorate the market” message. A complete left-right populist mind-meld would depend, of course, on whether and how the right can rescind its large remnant of racism, to win the support of even more POC. Which would give historians a whole new chapter (hopefully, the final chapter) in America’s Original Sin.

On the other hand, the mainstream Republicans might breathe a new life. Trump has shown the GOP how to pay lip-service to non-college blue-collar POC. So the GOP can try to sideline the walking, talking toxic waste dump himself, and run with e.g. Rubio in 2024.

But note, this gives Biden an opening to push the Republicans into voting for some issues that appeal to the Republican’s expanded bluecollar base. Round and round it goes.


Barry 11.06.20 at 1:19 pm

likbez: ” With the real possibility of launching “Chinagate” against him, using Russiagate template. A special prosecutor and such.”

No. Biden and the Dems are walking into the White House knowing about the Clinton, Obama and Trump administrations.


Hidari 11.06.20 at 2:19 pm


Here’s hoping this puts the tedium to an end.


It’s entirely possible that Biden will be a 1 term President, and this is something that Democrats should have given some thought to. But they had other, sillier, things on their mind, and, well, here we are.


Ebenezer Scrooge 11.06.20 at 4:00 pm

All that’s left to do now is Shermanize Georgia.


Tm 11.06.20 at 5:35 pm

I’m amazed by the national exit polls. According to ABC news, Trump dominated among Whites of all age groups, even the 18-29 age group by 5 points. Even White college graduates are evenly split, regardless of gender. The gender gap is much smaller among Whites (3 points) than among Blacks and Latinx (10 points). There is a considerable gender gap (10 points) among White non college graduates.

Income seems more strongly correlated with vote than in 2016 iirc. It would be nice to have the direct comparison. Generally it would be extremely helpful if the results reports included the comparison to the last election. Alas the US media won’t include those.


likbez 11.06.20 at 7:51 pm

@reason 11.04.20 at 4:26 pm

It seems to me there were a surprisingly large number who voted against Trump for down ticket Republicans. Looks like the Democrats didn’t tie the Republican party to Trump as much as they should have done.

IMHO Trump voters are “protest voters” — they are tied to the protest against neoliberalism, not so much to Trump personally. So many Trump voters are against both Parties: Both D and R party establishment are neoliberal in economic outlook.

In reality “Trump voters” are ready to vote for anyone who will hold pharma, big Ag, monopolies, insurance companies, etc accountable for the financial harm they’ve caused to the 90% of the people. That means that both parties will work like hell to prevent any candidate like that from getting to the general election. See Dem establishment vs, Sanders and Warren.

Democrats ran a status quo neoliberal candidate and expected a radical result. That did not happen.


JimV 11.07.20 at 12:26 am

The Republicans have a huge propaganda machine and it fools a lot of people. Enough of them woke up enough finally to see Trump for what he is, but they still voted Republican down-ticket. Every Republican ad I saw vilified the Democrat opponent (He’s a Socialist who will cost jobs, raise crime, and raise your taxes). Most Democrat ads I saw talked about what the Democrat wanted to do in office. Negative propaganda works, and it goes on every day by the Republican machine.

I have a nephew whom I consider one of the finest people on earth. Always a happy, smiling kid who loved his family and did his chores willingly (a lot more than I did at that age). This was his first presidential vote and he almost voted for Trump. He told his father, “The news media is so unfair to the President!” His father told him, “Don’t listen to the media. Watch Trump. Read his tweets. Make up your own mind.”

He saw the first debate and it changed his mind. He didn’t like the fun Trump made of Biden’s son. “He is a bad, sick person.” Whew! He probably voted Republican otherwise though, or maybe even wrote somebody in for President. Let’s face it, billions of decent people are fooled by the religions they grew up in, why would politics be any different?


Patrick 11.07.20 at 7:27 am

A couple random comments:

Re: exit polls and racial breakdowns- If early voting, mail, and absentee voting are a significant component of this year’s election, and if they trend more Democratic than Republican this year, then exit polls will trend more Republican than reality for all groups. This doesn’t mean that we can’t get ANY information from them, but, trying to get them to reflect reality requires unskewing them, and that’s hard.

Re: young people. The left has a ton of very emotionally committed beliefs about power. And they screw up how to include young people in their world view about as badly as libertarians do. I don’t know how to convince people of this any more than I know how to convince people to stop voting for Trump, and it just breaks my heart.

The very short version is that a lot of you are very mean. And self righteous about being mean. Often to kids. Over whom you have power. And you’re wrong about some things, and you’re mean about that too.

I wasn’t able to grow up to be an evangelical Christian, because for all the things they said that sounded nice, some of what they said was crazy, and some of it was mean. Often to me, or my friends. Yeah, yeah, that’s a selfish frame of reference- I was fourteen. The left had an easy time convincing me to listen to them because they acknowledged that the crazy stuff was crazy, and were sympathetic about the cruelty. I didn’t even know what the left believed! But they were kind, and sane, in the limited context that I needed kindness and sanity in, as a child.

I know it is hard to hear, but when left wing communities turn into 24/7 Requires Only That You Hate reruns, you’re giving that role to like… gamergate and Ben Shapiro. And I know you have all kinds of bottled excuses! But they’re bad and you should just not be crazy and mean, especially to children.

They don’t have the experience or judgment necessary to take what is good from you and reject what is bad. You have to try to get rid of the bad yourself.


J-D 11.07.20 at 7:31 am

The Republicans have a huge propaganda machine and it fools a lot of people. Enough of them woke up enough finally to see Trump for what he is, but they still voted Republican down-ticket. Every Republican ad I saw vilified the Democrat opponent (He’s a Socialist who will cost jobs, raise crime, and raise your taxes). Most Democrat ads I saw talked about what the Democrat wanted to do in office. Negative propaganda works, and it goes on every day by the Republican machine.

It’s a clearly established matter of record that a lot of people (in the US) vote Republican; it’s also a clearly established matter of record that a lot of people (in the US) vote Democrat. Not all of the people who vote Republican do so for all the same reasons, but it’s plausible to suppose that one of the reasons people vote Republican is that Republican advertising/campaigning/propaganda has an effect on them. Not all of the people who vote Democrat do so for all the same reasons, but it’s plausible to suppose that one of the reasons people vote Democrat is that Democratic advertising/campaigning/propaganda has an effect on them. So it’s highly implausible to suppose that Republicans use the kind of advertising/campaigning/propaganda that is effective while Democrats use the kind of advertising/campaigning/propaganda that is ineffective.

That’s not to say that Democrats shouldn’t try to improve their techniques. Absolutely they should; but they will fail to do so if they start from the position that what they have been doing up to now is completely wrong. Biden’s beaten Trump; that’s probably not all due to the Democratic campaign, but it’s probably partly due to the Democratic campaign; they probably got some things right. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.


Hidari 11.07.20 at 7:49 am

President Biden is not my cup of tea, politically, but at least he knows how the American system works, and he is vaguely sane, unlike many white American college educated ‘liberals.’

Unlike many of the stranger utterances from these people (about how all Trump .” supporters are automata, propagandised, in a ‘cult’, barely human at all*), President Biden is (correctly, from his point of view) stressing that “We may be opponents, but we’re not enemies,” President Biden says of people who didn’t vote for him. “It’s time for us to come together as a nation and heal”. I don’t like the cliche, but politically it’s the right thing to do. Given that he wants two terms (and more seats in Congress and the Senate), this is much wiser than screaming at everyone who doesn’t vote for your political party that they are ‘racists’ or ‘literal Nazis’ or whatever (a tactic which had such sterling results in the recent Brexit fiasco).

*the implication being, of course, that in a perfect world, these people would not be allowed to vote. Please note that those putting forward these opinions tend to believe that they are ‘anti-fascist’.


Hidari 11.07.20 at 8:15 am

Incidentally, some people are asking why it wasn’t a Biden landslide and getting pleasingly self-flattering answers of the ‘Trump supporters are all brainwashed, unlike me and my clever friends’ type.

Here’s a good article in the Atlantic (not everyday you read that phrase!) explaining why.

‘The firs (reason)t is that the general election occurred when the economy was bouncing back, not when it was falling apart. …

The second factor is that household finances have held up better than economic headlines would suggest, because of the trillions of dollars of stimulus passed by Congress back in the spring….

A third factor is that the people most hurt by Trump’s horrific mismanagement of the federal public-health response and the ensuing economic fallout were more likely to be Democrats who were not voting for Trump in the first place…

More broadly, as a fourth factor, Americans seem not to blame Trump for the wreckage caused by the coronavirus or the ensuing recession, treating it more like an act of God than a product of policy choices. (Those who would sneer at them for that might want to look at the Covid situation in France, led by liberal Golden Boy Macron)

Only in fifth place do we get the obvious: political polarization is altering how voters perceive the economy.

So this then begs the much more interesting question: given this, and Trump’s advantages of incumbency, why did he lose?

Answer: Voters age 65+ increased as a share of the electorate this year (22% of total voters) compared to 2016 (16%). Trump won this demographic by 7% in 2016, and this year it was down to 3%. Why? Covid. End of story. That’s why he lost.



Tm 11.07.20 at 9:40 am

I wonder what motivation Susan Collins might have to fall in line behind McConnell. She could sit as an independent or cross over and play kingmaker. She would have much more clout that way than as one of McConnell‘s foot soldiers.


ph 11.07.20 at 10:41 am

Irrespective of the outcome Republicans, Dems, and their constituants have to determine what to do post-Trump, coz he is leaving the WH – whether now, or in 2024. Leaving the building, that is. Leaving the political landscape? That’s a different question.

Operating as we do in information silos, few here would have voted for Trump “racism is his brand”- and are hence unable to grasp why Trump did better among African-Americans than any Republican since 1960. America really has changed and changed for the better, unless one prefers an America where minorities and women are unwelcome in Republican circles. Promises of a blue wave turned out ‘surprise’ to be pipe dreams. Instead of taking the Senate (still up for grabs) and increasing their hold on the House, Republican women beat rival Dems to hand Pelosi a net loss.

A number of Republican voters I spoke with happen to believe that 2020 began on November 4th, 2016 with systematic violations of legal norms – up to and including the use of political propaganda and the falsification of FBI documents to de-legitimize the 2016 election. When in late 2019, middle level GOP ‘security’ experts connected with the Biden scam in Ukraine caught wind that the administration was asking the Ukraine for help tracking down possible criminal activity, senior officials changed the whistle-blower rules to allow hearsay to serve as grounds for impeachment.

A hostile press acted as stenographers for senior officials in the security establishment to further undermine the administration and seal off investigations which might lead to their own prosecutions, prosecutions we may yet see.

Something like 60 million Americans voted to re-elect the 45th president and many of these regard the optimism, economic gains, and increased opportunity for all to be worth extending. Add in a benign foreign policy of no new wars for the first time this century, a foreign policy which led to the recognition of the state of Israel by leaders in the Middle East, more equitable trade deals, and the reconstruction of Nato, and we can see why many, many Americans viewed the last four years as both peaceful, prosperous, and positive.

The bumptious rodeo-clown is unlikely to waltz quietly off the national stage. Media outlets understand that Trump garners clicks in office, or out. He loves the limelight and the media will be delighted to pillory him in the press in office, and out. Notions that the Lincoln project Republicans will win over Trump voters with a faux-populist are nothing more than wishful thinking by the left and the right. Dressing up Rubio as Trump is a non-starter.

Having digested a steady diet of Trump vulgarity for the last four years has weaned Republican voters off the faux patriotism of the flag-pin wearing preppies. Having had the unvarnished orange original, Trump voters will accept no imitations.

And why should they? Trump is going to be around for a long time – commanding the affection, attention and hatred of many, many people for the foreseeable future. Trump is good business for the media and provides such a welcome distraction from dealing with the meatier problems of life.

Looking at the current landscape my guess is that Trump is going to get another four years, now, or in 2024. Either way, after he leaves the masters of the universe will be back in charge. It’s possible Biden-Harris can keep the economy afloat and avoid any new foreign wars. Let’s hope so. My guess is they can’t. After that, who knows?


Tm 11.07.20 at 11:52 am

Do we have any data about reject votes? I have a hunch (and some anecdotal hints) that the vote suppression machine has worked impressively well and has gotten frighteningly close to tipping the balance. Yesterday I was deeply moved seeing the pictures of all those voters protesting to defend their democratic rights.

Re Hidari If this were a normal democratic contest, Trump would have had no chance, neither in 2016 nor 2020. But since we all know that this is not a normal democratic contest, we all know that the scales are grotesquely out of balance, Hidari‘s claim can only be qualified as nonsensical.


Hidari 11.07.20 at 12:35 pm

Given that this result was eminently predictable since March and has been the overwhelmingly probably result for a good few weeks now


Please, dear God. The boredom is killing me.


David J. Littleboy 11.07.20 at 2:18 pm

How can you have an “exit poll” when a huge percentage of votes were early and/or by mail? Even worse, anyone who knows that Covid-19 is a nasty disease voted early and/or by mail, folks who don’t get that voted in person. (And the folks who don’t get it are largely Repugs, of course.)


alfredlordbleep 11.07.20 at 2:57 pm

Another footnote
. . . For example, Trump’s “muscular leadership style” appeals to Latino men in Texas, but not to Latino women, according to an August poll from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation. . . (in Politico and similarly elsewhere)

It should be remembered that while there is lately appreciation that California isn’t all that progressive* (while delivering a huge blue vote surplus) young Latinos reportedly went big not so long ago for ARNOLD—

*I’LL BE BACK with the less publicized Ca. low-down (or at least that’s my story—)


Cranky Observer 11.07.20 at 4:18 pm

= = = Putting Biden administration in a very precarious position, worse then Trump in 2016. With the real possibility of launching “Chinagate” against him, using Russiagate template. A special prosecutor and such.

The law governing special prosecutors was changed after the Clinton prosecution fiasco, and unless it is changed again there will not be another unconstrained special prosecutor in the mode of Kenneth Starr [1]. And no Attorney General appointed by any future Democratic President is going to appoint a constrained special prosecutor against his own Administration just because the hard Radical Right noise machine is screaming, ever again.

[1] Starr notably went on to serve as president of Baylor University where he ignored, and possibly covered up, a multiyear rape ring operating within the university’s athletic teams.


likbez 11.07.20 at 5:26 pm

The result of this election can be summarized with one phase “Strange non-death of neoliberalism.”

Joe Biden win is a win the tech companies, the big banks, Beijing, as well a PMC class.


likbez 11.07.20 at 5:37 pm

It’s entirely possible that Biden will be a 1 term President, and this is something that Democrats should have given some thought to. But they had other, sillier, things on their mind, and, well, here we are.

They don’t care. It is return to business as usual — classic neoliberalism with the classic neoliberal globalization on the agenda. And this is all that matter to them.

The people behind Joe Biden are Clinton classic neoliberals. Who ruled the country since 1990th with a well known result.

It is unclear what will happen in 2020 as Biden is a weak politician clearly unable of dealing with the current crisis the country faces. He is kick the can down the road type of guy.

And some start speculate that Dems the might get Tucker Carlson in 2024 as the opponent to Kamala.


andres 11.07.20 at 6:44 pm

Sorry to cross-post, but Branko Milanovic’s analysis in glineq.blogspot.com is so good that I have to insert it here:

What are the stakes in the forthcoming US presidential election? I would put them in one word: “normalcy”. But as I write that word, I feel very uneasy. For an East European of my generation it brings back the bad memories of the 1968 Czechoslovak “normalization” when the Soviet Union and (what would be called today) its “coalition partners” invaded Czechoslovakia to snuff out the Prague Spring, and bring back a bad government.

And this is the second reason for the unease. The United States prior to Trump could hardly be described as having been in a desirable state of affairs. Not only that: it is that very “normalcy” that brought Trump to power in the first place. It is useful to refresh one’s memories. Under George W Bush, the US created endless wars that destabilized the Middle East and killed, according to some estimates, half a million people. Under the same president, it also produced the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression. And then under the next president it bailed out those responsible for the crisis, sowed chaos in Libya, and ignored the decimation of the American middle class.

So, what was “normal” then? But, it could be argued, there are differences—even leaving aside the extraordinary irresponsible and outright callous response of the Trump Administration to the covid-19 epidemic which it largely ignored, and when it did not ignore, contributed to the death of almost quarter a million of Americans. The first difference is that the departure of Trump will put an end to the ceaseless daily fights with journalists, politicians, actors, private individuals, TV producers, and practically everybody who crosses paths with his administration. The new administration will stop the unconscionable attempt to pit different groups of Americans against each other in order to stay in power. It will end an openly racist behavior from the top. It will no longer relish the idea of using alligators to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the US border.

In foreign affairs, it will reduce tensions with China. Trump has exacerbated them and there is no doubt that they will remain. But his behavior that appears to indicate that he sees covid-19 as a China-orchestrated ploy to oust him from power is extraordinary dangerous. The US relations with China will not go back to what they were before Trump, but at least the danger of two nuclear powers starting a war would be lessened.

But what will “normalcy” bring in “positive” terms–not only what the Biden administration will “not” do? One cannot be very optimistic. Not only because of Biden’s half-a-century lack-luster record, but because of a narrative that the liberal establishment, which now includes both centrist Democrats and many Republicans, has become comfortable with. It is a narrative where everything prior to Trump was excellent, and then fell into pieces. That narrative is not only wrong (for the reasons I mentioned above) but would lead to inaction. The United States needs major changes in its distribution of wealth, elitist education system, dysfunctional health care, plutocratic-ruled political system, crumbling infrastructure, declining middle class, unleashed monopolies. Who is going to make all these changes? A new Roosevelt is often invoked. Does Biden fit the role? One should also not ignore that many of Roosevelt’s achievement became entrenched only because of inter-class collaboration that developed with the war effort. There is nothing similar to that now–and hopefully it will not be a war that would bring it forth.

So, after reflection, it is not “normalcy” that one hopes for from the likely new administration but major policy changes, the greatest (albeit in the opposite direction) since Reagan’s 1980 election. America has often been lucky and surprised the world by its uncommon ability to pull out of seemingly impossible situations. Was not Truman thought a light-weight? Kennedy inexperienced? Roosevelt a scion of the upper classes? The question is, can Biden surprise the world—and himself?

I would go even further and say that the bad elements of “normalcy” were thoroughly present by 1964 when Goldwater got nominated on one end and the Johnson presidency committed itself to Vietnam on the other. By brief summary of the above:

To both echo and contradict Gerald Ford, our long national nightmare is not over, but simply taking another phase. The Constitutional/institutional sclerosis and intellectual drift towards pre-fascism (reminiscent of Imperial and Weimar Germany) is still very much alive in the U.S. Without the Senate and the SC, I doubt Biden will be able to make major inroads on this stalemate even if he does deal with COVID19 and bring back some semblance of stability to U.S. foreign policy. If post-2020 economic growth is anemic and the economic decline of most of mid-America continues, I can easily see another Trump coming to power in 4 to 8 years. We need another political miracle (this election is simply an expected result even if it does feel like the miracle of the moment) to get past the long-term crisis of the U.S. that started in the 1960’s.


Tabasco 11.07.20 at 10:00 pm

There’s been a lot of talk that while Trump has lost, Trumpism lives. Maybe. In the alternative, this was a normal election, where the Republican candidate won under half the popular vote, as they have in every election but one since 1988, and it was close only because of the electoral college.

We’ll soon see which way the Republicans move. They stand for nothing but being in power, rewarding their friends and themselves, and punishing their enemies. This can be done via the agency of Trumpism, but in other ways too.


J-D 11.08.20 at 1:08 am

I know it is hard to hear, but when left wing communities turn into 24/7 Requires Only That You Hate reruns …

I know of no examples of this; you have not conveyed to me a clear idea of what it is that you have in mind.

… you should just not be crazy and mean, especially to children.

That’s easy to agree with! [See note below] However, if you have in mind particular examples of people being crazy and mean, especially to children, it is completely unclear what they are.

[Note] Nearly everybody would agree with the idea that you should not be crazy and mean, especially to children. Maybe everybody would. What happens is that the people who treat others (including children) meanly don’t themselves think of what they are doing as meanness (in nearly all cases, if not in all cases). They think of it and describe it in other ways: perhaps as ‘being tough’ or ‘being firm’ or ‘maintaining discipline’, all of which they may think of as good things.

I don’t suggest that there’s no such thing as meanness! There certainly is! My point is that if you want people to stop being mean it’s not enough to get them to agree that they shouldn’t be mean; you also need to help them to recognise their own meanness.


MisterMr 11.08.20 at 2:22 am

I just checked and, as of now, deaths per capita are still worse in the USA than in France:


The only two EU countries with a worse per capiya result than the USA are currently Spain and Belgium; UK is also worse than USA.

This might change in time, but still to imply now that France’s response to coronavirus is worse than USA’s is a bit weird.


MisterMr 11.08.20 at 2:30 am

Also I’m shocked that Trump is attempting a coup in plain sight and nobody is saying this.
He is basically asking the supreme court to cancel votes against him, and he just packed the court with a loyalist one month ago.
Now there are 99% chances that the court will give him the middle finger, but this is the literal definition of a coup; if this happened in a country that wasn’t the USA we would call it an (attempted but most likely failed) coup.


JimV 11.08.20 at 2:43 am

“Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” –JD, presumably in response to the quotation which was from my comment. If that was his interpretation of what my comment suggested or advocated, it is one of the least charitable readings I have received in a long history of Internet comments (probably way too long, I should know better by now). To say that negative propaganda works is not to say that it is right or that Democrats ought to emulate it more. An “is” is not an “ought”.

My point was that, while negative propaganda has always been a tool of politics, the Republicans currently have industrialized it (on several cable channels, Facebook, radio, and newspapers). I could be wrong, but I think that has a lot to do with Trump getting 70 million votes so far. I didn’t have a serious suggestion as to what to do about it, because all I could think of was “Clone Jon Stewart.”


Alan White 11.08.20 at 4:29 am

I anxiously await the ph litmus test of all this, not doubt very acidic.
Biden’s speech tonight put any that Agent Orange ever did to shame.


Saurs 11.08.20 at 10:44 am

@35, Tabasco

The wrinkle here is how covid and its effect on in-person voting animated a large portion of the center-left, liberal, and left-wing electorate that is otherwise willfully blind to and atomistically unaffected by traditional conservative voter suppression efforts that target their fellow Democratic voters. Conservative state legislators certainly accelerated more advanced methods of suppression this chcle, but they did so with far more public scrutiny than in the past. It remains to be seen whether these voters, now enlightened to widescale gerrymandering and disenfranchisement, along with Our Liberal Media, return to their previous state of either comfortably ignoring the issue or both-sidesing it.

If the anger subsides, GOP will co-opt the sexier aspects of Trumpism, sanitize them with a less chaotic face, and then blithely continue trying to win elections they lose on both the merits and the numbers. When you lack a substantive political platform there is nothing else much for a political party to do but run for an office it spends 2 – 4 years trying to steal while also making plans to sabotage its opponents if they manage, against these rigged odds, to get the 55 percent necessary to beat your <43.9. Even then, malleable judges will be more than happy to oblige if the rhetoric is a little less camp and over-sized and the strategy a hair less telegraphed.


Saurs 11.08.20 at 11:02 am

Also, look at the sheer number of things 45 did in his four years, both the lib-owning scandals and the boilerplate deregulation. Ratfucking is very mutable and almost always profitable if you’re willing to allow a few lackeys to be prosecuted. Trump didn’t invent the habit of purging the disloyal, waging war on the civil service, and surrounding oneself with disposable loyalists.

The net gains of this cruelty are the judiciary and a lot of amateurish policies and obstruction needing careful unwinding and fixing; Republicans will gladly take both as wins, allow the opposition to clean up their mess, and correctly calculate that they can survive any future temporary takeover of any charismatic, destructive freak so long as he can be managed and enabled and then tossed as and when needed, ditto his mercurial base who are likely to be unreliable voters without his or a suitable substitute’s presence on the ballot.

What’s the downside to losing when it takes less time and energy to burn it down, retire for a long reprieve, and emerge refreshed and ready to do it again with a “mandate” from less than half the electorate? The work is easy coming and going. Nobody is going to hold it against you. Just look at all the cushy gigs retired Tea Partiers have netted, from lobbying to “media” “commentary” and “analysis” to no-bid government contracts. And the grift extends to never-Trumper spin doctors who are already claiming the Biden victory (really, Trump defeat) as their own.


Hidari 11.08.20 at 2:21 pm

If anyone cares, here is a very good interview with Adam Tooze about what a Joe Biden term might be like. Too many good points to mention but basic point is: things might get done, good things, positive things, but this will be very well short of the fundamental structural reforms that the United States now badly needs.


steven t johnson 11.08.20 at 3:41 pm

andres@38 starts by redbaiting Biden as equivalent to Brezhnev’s strike against capitalist restoration in Czechoslovakia. In this scenario, Trump is another Visegrad leader. I disagree that the Czech Republic specifically is a beacon to mankind. And I disagree generally that bourgeois democracy is somehow opposed to war, empire, counterrevolution, etc. The war against Vietnam, which is verbally condemned, was a war to make the Czech Republic of today. Perhaps it is more self-flattering to deny this, but it is inconsistent.


abby 11.08.20 at 4:40 pm

It has recently occurred to me that Susan Collins would make an even better Secretary of State than she does a Senator and Biden appointing her to the position would demonstrate true bipartisanship.


Hidari 11.08.20 at 6:49 pm


Your point is correct but also cf this graph here


Please also note the French second wave is just getting started. I’m not in any sense attempt to ‘cover up’ for Trump’s weakness and uselessness: Trump has been an almost comically inept President, and his mishandling of Covid has unquestionably led to many deaths. All I’m saying is that many countries, led by manifestly better qualified and more experienced (politically) leaders have also had serious Covid problems, and Trump supporters know that.

The only possible inference to be drawn from this situation is that (with a few exceptions, e.g. New Zealand) countries in the East and even sub-Saharan Africa can handle these things a lot better and have a better attitude to public health than the so-called ‘developed’ countries in the West. But there is a huge amount of (Western) propaganda to stop you drawing that inference.


Hidari 11.08.20 at 8:20 pm

Interesting piece by Beinart about the obvious question that isn’t being asked: Why did Trump lose? After all he had the advantages of incumbency, until February the stock market was booming, wages were rising, things were going great.

Answer: because he was not nearly radical enough. Because he was a weak leader who was captured by the Republican elite (not the other way round). Also (rather ironic this) because he was and is a terrible negotiater. He continually caved into the likes of Mitch McConnell, and, well the rest is history.

Question: will ‘super Trump’ in 4 or 8 years time manage to follow the Eastern European template and create a genuine populist party? (economically social democratic, particularly concentrating on pensioners: extremely hostile to immigration, skeptical of environmental issues, culturally conservative?). If so the future is the Republicans’ but it’s a big if.



Alex SL 11.08.20 at 9:15 pm


Yes. The problem here is that there is no incentive to change behaviour if there are no repercussions.

First, there are no repercussions to US politicians for corruption or starting wars, because the other side is worried that they’d be held accountable in turn or start a cycle of prosecuting each other’s former presidents out of spite and vengeance. There are no repercussions for breaking procedural rules either, because the Democrats fear that if they abolish the filibuster or pack the court they other side will just return the favour.

Second, there are no repercussions for lying or spouting crazy conspiracy theories, because journalists want to be seen to maintain ‘balance’ and want to maintain access, and it makes a good show anyway.

Third, there are no repercussions to Republican politicians for harming their own voters with their policies because those voters are caught in a media and cultural bubble that blames everything bad that happens on the Democracts or immigrants or sees it as an unavoidable act of God. (One advantage of the dogma that the government can’t do anything right anyway is that if your followers believe that they can’t really blame you for not having got it right as a government.) And there are no repercussions for Democrats harming their own voters with their policies because, well, what is the alternative in a two party system?

Fourth, overall there is still enough institutional and economic substance to burn through before we are back at the level of ‘a bad harvest means widespread starvation’, so voters are still fairly buffered against the repercussions of bad governance.

Fifth, there are no repercussions for a country as powerful as the USA when it bombs powerless countries, for obvious reasons. (The one positive about Trump was that he did not start any new wars.)

As long as there are no repercussions for doing bad things, a certain kind of person will see no reason to stop doing bad things.


nastywoman 11.08.20 at 9:24 pm

AND about
@30 ph: ”Trump is going to be around for a long time” –
am I allowed to laugh?
– or just remind everybody here – if ph is making a prediction concerning Trump it’s nearly like if Trump makes a prediction – and as we just won the 20.000$ against all these Trumps Fans – and the money will go into our fight against the Climate Crisis –

Ph – would you like to take this time the bet that Trump won’t be around for a long time? As you had predicted that Trump would be re-elected – but somehow you didn’t wanted to bet on it?
And so – we will predict – like always with ”HUUUGE American Losers” – hardly anybody will talk about Trump anymore next -(with the exception if he is in prison – or will have to go to prison – or if the Deutsche Bank will take his golden toilet(s))

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