Photo (ABOVE): Associated Press / Google
State of the Race 2020: Is This Thing Over Yet?
Written by Ben Szioli
Yesterday was Election Day in America, and something isn’t right here.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (DE) finds himself with an insurmountable popular vote lead over President Donald Trump (FL), yet the Electoral College remains deadlocked 248-214, as mail-in ballot counts for the remaining states continue to trickle in. Nevertheless, the unclaimed portions of the map don’t look forgiving for the Democrats.
Former Vice President Biden finds himself in need of three miracles if he wants to pull this thing off: a miracle in the South (GA or NC), a miracle in the Rust Belt (PA or MI), and a miracle in the Southwest (AZ and NV). These three “miracles,” however, looked hardly supernatural heading into the election, as all three of them relate to electoral strategy commitments that Biden made to the party during the course of his strangely vicarious campaign. What were once campaign promises now have Democratic voters literally praying for a miracle — or like I said, three of them.
But first! I’m Ben Szioli, and this is a continuation of Citizens’ Media TV’s State of the Race 2020. Our election coverage was briefly interrupted when I was carried off by a giant eagle in May, but I made my escape and am back after a truly dreadful hike through the hinterlands. Better late than never.
The Miracle in the Southwest
This miracle is shaping up nicely for Biden so far, actually. He did go to church yesterday, after all, and he was carried by a wholesome endorsement from Cindy McCain (AZ), the widow of late Senator John McCain (AZ), whose final years were consumed by a feud with President Trump. As long as Biden can secure Nevada to match Former President Barack Obama (HI)‘s 2008 and 2012 performance in the Southwest [as well as Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (NY) in 2016], Biden is poised to expand Democratic presence in the region to an unprecedented level. This would grant him some wiggle room to underperform elsewhere, blunting losses in Ohio and Florida.
I must admit that this miracle would be a direct result of a Biden campaign promise paying off: bipartisanship. I’m not gonna try to you that bipartisanship gets good policies passed. But I will concede that sometimes it helps you win Arizona, especially when that’s where one of the Democrats’ biggest Republican allies, Senator McCain, hailed from.
The Miracle in the South
Despite mounting unprecedented challenges to Republican control of the South — particularly in Texas — Biden came up empty-handed in the region on election night. Georgia and North Carolina remain in play, but barely so.
Biden’s popularity with black voters and his identity as an Obama standard-bearer were a key part of the party’s argument that Biden could unite the country and win the election. Without at least one win in the heavily black South, whether in GA or NC, much of the reasoning behind Biden as a compromise candidate would be invalidated.
NC, for its part, looks primed for a crushing Biden defeat, as he trails Trump by tens of thousands of votes in the state, with 95% of the vote reported. The state has previously voted blue since 2008. The race in Georgia is unexpectedly just as close, but this isn’t horseshoes. Close doesn’t count. Nevertheless, a win in GA would more than make up for the nail-biter in NC.
The Miracle in the Rust Belt
The public was told the same thing a million different ways during the primary season: we need to put Working Class Joe up against Trump, because otherwise we can’t win the Rust Belt. Nevermind that crazy Sanders guy and his union support — we need Scranton Joe to win back the silent majority and claim the official title of Economic Anxiety Whisperer. By the way — if you’re noticing that this line of reasoning sounds like double-speak compared to the way Biden was sold as a compromise candidate for the South, you’re on the right track.
Nevertheless, Biden was dealt a crushing loss in Ohio on Election Night, leaving him looking at a deficit in the swing state of PA. MI is currently leaning blue, but barely. Unless a surge of mostly blue mail-in ballots secures one of those states for the Democratic Party, the Scranton Joe aesthetic will turn out to be more of a skin of grime on a bad candidate than any type of real ability to play Pied Piper to angry white voters… not that such an ability would be one to marvel at, either way.
EDIT [2:05 PM, 11/4/20]: Wisconsin has been called in favor of Biden, according to CNN and Associated Press.
The Big Picture
If Biden seals up NV, NC, and MI [the smallest states from each miracle], that would give him 37 electoral votes on top of his 248 previously clinched votes. This would put Biden at 285 electoral votes, sending him to the White House. A victory in GA instead of NC, or PA instead of MI, would make it less suspenseful.
Nevertheless, what were promised to Democratic voters as easy gains under a Biden candidacy — one Rust Belt state and one Southern state — now sit firmly in the territory of the miraculous, and questions regarding Democratic strategy will only continue to mount as more vote tallies become final.
[Updated at 2:05 PM on 11/4/20 to reflect the Biden win in Wisconsin.]