Forget Election Day, let’s call it Election Week or maybe Election Month. In some ways it’s been most surprising; in others not surprising at all. Certainly one for the history books.
The nationwide turnout was phenomenal. Donald Trump will finish with the second-most presidential votes in American history. But Joe Biden will end up with some 5 million more as well 270-plus electoral votes, making him the president.
Well, in most eyes, at least.
Trump, however, did far better than expected, clearly surprising the pollsters. It’s a gross overstatement to say polls were “wrong,” given that they nailed most states and Biden’s final percentage, but clearly they either didn’t correct for mistakes in underestimating Trump voters in 2016 or pretty much every undecided voter went for Trump.
Remember, many polls largely factor out those who are unlikely to vote. But Trump’s late rallies obviously convinced many who don’t usually turn out to cast ballots. A local example: A couple, probably well into their 40s, posted on Facebook about voting for the first time, compelled by Trump.
(Speaking of Facebook, so disheartening to see post after post on Election Day from people who went to their usual polling place only to find it closed, not understanding this election was different from any before with fewer, but larger, voting centers. We probably wrote 10 stories about this. TV stations covered it. Local websites like the Community Media Center and VOCAL Carroll County supplied information. Yet many had no clue, offering the excuse, “I don’t follow the news,” as if being an uninformed dolt is a badge of honor. They doubtless cast supremely informed ballots and were likely confused about why so many were wearing masks. Maybe pay just a little attention to the world outside of your little sphere?)
While Trump will join the dreaded “one-termer” fraternity, overall, it was not a particularly successful election for Democrats. That blue wave crashed long before it reached the shore.
Democrats were widely expected to take majority control of the Senate. Hasn’t happened. They were supposed to take over state legislatures. Didn’t happen. And they were supposed to expand their advantage in the House of Representatives. The opposite happened.
The moderate Democrats who complained about the far left-leaning elements of the party in a Thursday caucus call nailed it.
According to Forbes, House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) reportedly said on the call that if “we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win.” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) reportedly told fellow Democrats, “don’t say socialism ever again," warning that if the party continues moving left that in 2022 “we will get [expletive] torn apart.”
Probably true. The country has been moving so steadily to the left that many looking back on Bill Clinton speeches from the 1990s might think he was a Republican. Those agendas that play well in California and New York are not exactly embraced in thousands of counties across America, which is why Trump received more than 70 million votes.
Speaking of which, there aren’t 70 million racist, homophobic, horrible people out there. Similarly, there also aren’t 75 million anarchists who want to destroy the American way of life. We have our differences. Big differences. But both sides need to stop looking at the other as the enemy, ready to “go to war” over every disagreement.
Biden said this week there’s just one America, and he’s right, divided though we may be. He might be the stable, predictable — some would say boring and uninspiring — president that’s needed right now.
Of course, that’s assuming the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue actually vacates the premises.
Trump claiming voter fraud was the least surprising aspect of the week. With nothing concrete to back it up. Sometimes in states run by Republicans and otherwise won by Republicans.
The part that would be really funny if our democracy didn’t hang in the balance was his questioning why the mail-in votes all seemed to be for Biden. After telling his supporters to vote in person. Perhaps he should check his Twitter history.
Here in Carroll County, of the mail-in votes tabulated thus far, 15,590 ballots were cast for Biden compared to only 7,022 for Trump. But Trump was the pick on more than 47,000 in-person ballots while Biden had fewer than 14,000. That’s a tiny slice of the way it went all over the country and shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
Trump supporters clearly pay attention to what he says. That’s what makes the next two months so worrisome to many.
It’s been a rough campaign season for most Americans. According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, 76 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans say the presidential election has been a significant source of stress.
Perhaps everyone can relax a bit now and maybe a semblance of civility can return given that Republicans picked up a lot of wins, Democrats got the biggest win and divisiveness is getting us nowhere.
Then again, early voting for the mid-term elections is only about 23 months away.
Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at email@example.com.