Initial Impressions

At the time this is typed, the Associated Press has called Maine, the only state besides Nebraska to apportion its Electoral College votes by Congressional District, by the same split that prevailed in 2016.  NBC has called Wisconsin for former Vice President Joe Biden, although the Trump Campaign has indicated that it will demand a recount.  Mr. Biden is ahead in Arizona.  Vote in the large metro areas of Michigan and Pennsylvania is still being counted, with Democrats apparently optimistic about their chances in Michigan.  Pennsylvania, despite a currently sizeable lead for President Trump, has too much outstanding vote to readily lend itself to forecast, but Democrats clearly believe that they have a solid opportunity to win the state.  Mr. Biden leads in Nevada, the only state won by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 still in question. 

If Mr. Biden achieves the Electoral College victory arguably – but far, far from securely – within his grasp, the Trump Campaign will almost certainly mount various challenges to the reported results.  Former U.S. MO Sen. Claire McCaskill provided what was at least for me a reassuring reminder earlier this morning:  unless it’s over a few hundred votes, state recounts rarely overturn initial results.  This year, it could be closer, since the Trump Campaign, aided by Republican-controlled legislatures in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, will be looking to have invalidated as many of these states’ mail-in votes as it can, but the Democrats will seemingly retain the edge. 

The Trump Campaign might bring a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, where Mr. Trump now leads, to halt the counting of ballots that could provide Mr. Biden with a victory and the state’s 20 Electoral votes.  Any such challenge will obviously go all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  Perhaps Pollyannish:  I don’t think even Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court appointees will issue a ruling that will have the effect of invalidating Pennsylvania ballots rendered according to the state’s then-existing rules.  (This does not mean that Mr. Biden will ultimately prevail when all the votes are counted.)

The gaping divide among U.S. citizens demonstrated by the election results is clearly worthy of a future note, but not here.  My only comment:  assuming for the moment that Mr. Biden does win the presidency by what will clearly be very small margins in a decisive number of states, it’s hard not to conclude that but for the Coronavirus, Mr. Trump would have secured a second term.  Such suggests that the gap within the U.S. citizenry may yawn even more widely that the Electoral College results might ultimately reflect.

Finally, amidst another unbelievable polling debacle, Arizona, its vote count currently significantly favoring Mr. Biden, is the only swing state for which polling results even remotely resembled its final vote tallies.  If the Grand Canyon State’s 11 Electoral College votes are pivotal in winning Mr. Biden the presidency, I was particularly struck by an observation made last night by an Arizona reporter:  that Arizona Republicans may not “have come home” as Republicans did in a number of other supposed swing states because they have not liked Mr. Trump’s incessant bitter criticisms of the late U.S. AZ Sen. John McCain, one of the state’s revered favorite sons.  There will never be any way of knowing for sure, but if Mr. Trump, a man with glaring dictatorial aspirations – whom Sen. McCain called his “adversary” — loses the White House in part because of the unwarranted disrespect he spewed upon Mr. McCain – and is ironically replaced by Mr. McCain’s close friend, Joe Biden, who gave the eulogy at the Senator’s private burial service – I suspect that this late American hero might feel that by his drawing the enemy’s fire, victory for America was achieved; that his service to his country is now complete; and that he can rest in peace …   

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