By half-past midnight on the east coast, the results of the most consequential election in modern US history were far from “decisive.”
You’ll likely listen to plenty of pundits who’ll say they knew it was going to be close — that a landslide victory for Joe Biden was never a realistic prospect. Another common refrain will likely be that stating the statistical odds of a Biden win is something entirely different from predicting the margin and that just as rules are “meant to be broken,” odds are meant to be defied.
All of that will be true, but it will also be somewhat disingenuous. No matter what the final outcome, the bottom line is that Donald Trump, despite coming into the election with a list of dubious distinctions that was just as unfathomably damning as it was long, still commands a formidable share of the US vote. That, in turn, suggests the country’s “values” are perhaps more closely aligned with Trumpism than anyone wants to admit.
Biden delivered a series of remarks around 1 AM. “We’re on track to win this election,” he said.
It was difficult to reconcile the general thrust of the polls/odds headed into the vote with how things panned out in real time. Pollsters will tell you that’s a non-scientific thing to say — that I’m speaking anecdotally. “Guilty” as charged. And yet, I think anyone who watched the election in real time will understand precisely what I mean. Biden’s performance in Florida was extremely disappointing, for example. He did manage to win Arizona, though — no small feat.
For his part, Trump did precisely what everyone feared he would do. He claimed victory in a tweet. “I will be making a statement tonight. A big WIN!,” the president declared, around the same time Biden spoke.
Then, the president accused Democrats of trying to cheat him out of the Oval Office. “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election,” he said. “We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Poles [sic] are closed!”
Twitter put a disclaimer on his tweet, marking it “disputed” and possibly “misleading.” Eric Trump then accused Twitter of “censoring” his father.
At a press conference, Trump said unnamed conspirators were trying to “disenfranchise” his supporters. “I won’t stand for it,” he said.
Final results from Pennsylvania and Georgia could come on a considerable delay. Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County stopped counting at 2 AM and will reconvene at 10. A burst pipe at State Farm Arena in a room where absentee ballots were being counted stymied the tally in Fulton county, the largest in Georgia. At the same time, Gwinnett county reportedly experienced a “technical issue,” delaying its count.
Meanwhile, Senate races didn’t go quite according to “plan” either, depending on whose “plan” you were following.
John Hickenlooper easily flipped Colorado for Democrats, but Lindsey Graham had no trouble with Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. Democrats also lost Doug Jones’s Alabama seat to Tommy Tuberville. That was widely expected. Susan Collins was ahead in Maine, but Sara Gideon said she wouldn’t make a speech yet. “It’s clear the race will not be called tonight,” her campaign said. Joni Ernst won a second term in Iowa. In Georgia, Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock will head for a runoff in January, potentially adding another wrinkle depending on how the other races play out and what the seat split ends up being. Steve Daines held onto his seat in Montana, while Democrats scored in Arizona as Mark Kelly beat Martha McSally, as expected.
I suppose this goes without saying, but Mitch McConnell dispatched with Amy McGrath as if she weren’t even running. It was not close. “Kentucky wants more of the policies that built the best economy in modern history, not socialism,” McConnell said.
McGrath was a bit less abrasive. “Although we didn’t get the result we wanted, the energy and optimism I saw in every corner of this state gives me so much hope for the future of our great commonwealth,” she said.