After All, Things Pretty Much Went According to Plan
Seriously. Is anyone surprised at the outcome of this election. Really?
Considering the current climate, crisis and the incumbent? I think surprise would have been re-electing Donald Trump. I mean, come on.
When I sent my column to press last week, one day before decision desks officially called the presidential race for Joseph R. Biden Jr., my trusted compadre Dr. Slater thought it a tad premature for me to write anything under the headline TRUMP IS FINISHED. After all, the previous three days, moving into four, we had still not secured a winner. There was, for many, the specter of 2016, and some states, including Pennsylvania, which eventually handed the victory to Biden, had Trump still leading. None of this mattered. Not here. Where for the past four months this space predicted without equivocation a Biden victory and a Trump loss, nothing had changed.
And if you remove a lot of the emotional and ideological aspects of this campaign, it was kind of in the cards. All signs pointed to it; statistical, anecdotal, historical. The sad echoes of 2016 were in the rearview. Donald Trump lost because it was supposed to happen.
As I wrote in my August 26 piece, THIS IS NOT 2016: “This time around the numbers are not three to four percent for a wildly unpopular Democratic candidate; they are a six, seven to ten percentage point lead for a fairly likable one. And the enthusiasm to vote against Trump, the incumbent with a terrible record, is higher than his opponent’s. Throwing a Hail Mary touchdown pass in the final seconds worked swimmingly for Doug Flutie and Boston College once. Flutie was not asked to repeat that four years later. This is what is asked of the 2020 Donald Trump, morph back into an outsider, grenade-throwing grievance candidate. It is he who is the system now and that system is broken. Change is in the air, and that change candidate is not the current president. The time, the numbers, the opponent, and the crises make 2020 very different from 2016. But only the Election Day numbers can bear this out eventually, whether the president accepts them or not.”
This was August. And not much shifted thereafter. If anything, Trump fucked up worse – ignoring the worst pandemic in a century, gassing protestors for some weird Bible photo op and acting like a buffoon in the first of two debates – only two because… ahem… he contracted Covid-19. So, if you have paid any attention to the remaining columns of this campaign season, my confidence in a Joe Biden victory, or more to the point, a Trump loss only grew stronger.
The numbers, which while askew in some states, most notably Wisconsin, were pretty much on point. The Democratic Party’s choice of a centrist, old white guy from the Rust Belt pretty much sealed the deal. As long as Biden, known for his self-immolation in two previous presidential runs, maintained his composure and his campaign stuck to the script, the Blue Wall that Trump barely flipped in 2016 would return to the Democratic fold.
And it did.
As noted above and for several of the past weeks here it appeared that discussing the possibility that Biden could win Republican strongholds like Arizona – in ’92, Bill Clinton was the only Dem to win there since 1952 – and amazingly Georgia – native son, Jimmy Carter took it in 1976 – was a fairly important sign that this would be an impressive, decisive victory. He won those states. And so it was indeed both of those things.
There was solid evidence early that Texas was in play, which it certainly was, and this worked as a canary in Trump’s coal mine. No incumbent can be fighting to win a state that should be banked weeks before Election Day and hope to hold onto swing states. It is here that the comparison to the aforementioned Jimmy Carter in his 1980 re-election bid was apt. Actually, it turned out to be a greater stomping. Biden passed a 1980-type win before Arizona came into the fold. And North Carolina has still yet to be called, as Trump clings to a 77,000-vote lead with nearly 140,000 ballots yet to count.
This is all to say that Biden’s victory, which garnered more votes than any presidential candidate in American history had been in the bag for a while, despite the weird days-long counting of the immense level of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic. The president’s constant campaign rhetoric about “rigged election” and “fraudulent mail-in ballots” telegraphed his post-election plan, which was to ameliorate his humiliation and give him a chance to raise funds to pay-off his campaign debts under a legal defense ruse. It is reprehensible and pathetic, so of course it is a Trump thing. It is one last money-grab. Every silly, baseless lawsuit has been thrown out of court amid a phalanx of mockery and laughter.
Make no mistake, this election was not close. Had the Republican-led legislatures in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin allowed the mail-in ballots to be counted earlier – like Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Ohio and pretty much everywhere else, this thing would have been called by 11:00 PM on Election Day. Unlike Trump, Biden will win the popular vote by a ridiculous margin. What is it now five-million and counting? This was a cruise win for Joe Biden. Once the nonsense from crazy-land dies down and someone puts shackles on Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich attends his first Civics 101 class, history will mark this baby as a one-term tank job.
Let it be known, the 2020 presidential election is a repudiation of Donald Trump; his epic failures with the Covid-19 crisis, his abject racism, his disregard for constitutional norms in governance, his overall narcissistic stupidity and so on. He barely won in 2016 and alienated a whole shit-ton of people. How else was this supposed to go?
The Joe Biden campaign was handed a gift, and they took it. This was, in the end, a finely tuned machine, helped on the ground, especially in Georgia, by a massive African-American voter effort. They stuck to a script that was laid out for them over these past four years. An alternative candidate had to be steady, on-point and unflappable. Biden came through. It was tidy and impressive. Beating an incumbent is historically a tough task. But not this one. And the results bear that out. It was time to wipe away this particular catastrophe.
A wise man once mused, “Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you.”
That pretty much nails it.