Monthly Archives: November 2020

Trump Increased His Black and Latino Vote This Time

It’s well known that a substantial majority of African American voters are consistent Democrats.  It’s also well known that most African Americans regard Donald Trump as a racist.  However, exit polls show that 12% of Black voters in this election voted for Trump, and that’s an increase from 2016.  What’s more, 32% of Latino voters went for Trump in 2020, also an increase.

It needs to be noted that “Latino” is an artificial category, because it includes immigrants and their descendants from many different countries, having little in common besides a language.  It includes Cubans, many of whom have been Republicans right along due to their hatred of the Castro regime and their desire for hardline US policies towards it.  It also includes Venezuelans, many of whom are persuaded by the notion that the Democratic Party in the US, if given unchecked power, could turn the US into the same kind of socialist dictatorship that they fled from in Venezuela.

Now, about African Americans.  Obviously, African Americans don’t all think alike, and it would be insulting to suggest that they should.  But probing a little deeper, let’s consider for a moment the differences between the two parties in their approaches.  The Republican Party believes that what’s best for Black Americans is the same thing that’s best for White Americans:  unfettered opportunity for economic self-advancement, with the government staying out of the way.  The belief is that what’s good for the overall economy is good for everybody, Black and White.  Moreover, the Republicans accuse the Democrats of overemphasizing “identity politics,” the notion that particular affinity groups–Blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ persons, etc.–should be seen as special groups with special needs requiring special attention from government and from candidates running for office.  My point isn’t who’s right or wrong; my point is, the Republican approach, even with Donald Trump at the helm, seems to be working with some number of nonwhite voters.

With these results, you can expect to see both parties doubling down on their efforts to woo nonwhite voters, because as the population becomes increasingly nonwhite, the nonwhite vote–which is clearly not monolithic–is going to make more and more of a difference in election outcomes.  And it may well be that both parties have something to learn from each other in their approach.

Exit poll numbers in the New York Times, November 5, 2020

Report on NPR, November 5, 2020

The Prognosis for the Senate

While we hear in the media that party control of the Senate for the coming term is still up in the air, I would suggest that it isn’t very far up in the air.  I think it looks pretty clear that the Republicans will be keeping their majority.

First, some math.  Right now, the count of officially called races is a tie, 48 to 48, leaving four seats theoretically unresolved.  The Republicans need 51 seats to hold a majority.  The Democrats only need 50 seats for that, because that would be a tie, and the vice-president–who in this case is going to be Kamala Harris–breaks the tie.  However, as I’m about to demonstrate, there’s every probability that the Republicans are going to have 52 seats in the Senate when the dealing’s done.

Of the four unresolved seats, two are in North Carolina and Alaska.  In each of those states ,the Republican candidate appears to be winning.  The other two are both in Georgia.  Georgia had the rare occurrence this year of two Senate elections in the same state, one regular and one special.  And in each of those Georgia Senate contests, with no candidate getting an outright majority, there’s going to be a runoff election in January between the top two vote-getters.  Both parties, of course, are pouring millions into the campaigns for those two seats; from the point of view of both parties, the battle for the soul of America is continuing.

As of Monday morning, the presidential contest in Georgia has not yet been called for either candidate, but Biden is ahead.  That might appear to look good for the Democratic candidates.  However, here’s the kicker:  in the same state where Biden is ahead in the presidential contest, in each of the Senate contests, though there’s no single candidate with a majority, the Democratic candidate is behind.

In the regular election, Republican David Perdue has 49.7% of the vote while Democrat Jon Ossoff has 47.9% and Libertarian Shane Hazel has 2.3%.  In the runoff, the Libertarian will be gone, but I highly doubt that even one Libertarian voter is going to vote for the Democrat.  Libertarians, while they tend to be liberal on the subjects of abortion and legalizing marijuana, are against all social welfare programs and most government regulations of business; they oppose government intervention and intrusion across the board.  They will most likely either stay home or vote for Perdue; they’re not going to vote for Ossoff in any significant numbers.

In the special election, by a quirk in the setup, there were two Republicans and one Democrat all running at once last Tuesday.  The Democratic candidate is Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is African American and the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  He has 32.9% of the vote, but he is outnumbered by the two Republicans combined, Kelly Loeffler with 25.9% and Doug Collins with 20%.  So, Warnock will be up against Loeffler.

In each of the runoff races, the Republican candidate is the incumbent.  (Loeffler was appointed by the governor to fill a vacant seat in mid-term.)  Incumbents usually have an advantage to begin with.  What’s more, in Georgia, Republicans have an advantage as well.  Although Biden is ahead in the still-unfinished vote count for president in Georgia, that state has not been considered a swing state before, but rather, a solidly Republican state.  Stacey Abrams has substantially increased the Democratic electorate in Georgia with a massive voter registration drive, and that undoubtedly made a difference in the presidential electoral vote, but again, it didn’t stop the Democratic candidates from being outnumbered last week.

Assuming that the Republicans win the unresolved Senate seats from North Carolina and Alaska–which it very much appears they’re going to do–the Democrats need both of those Georgia seats to have a majority, with Vice President Harris tie-breaking vote, in the Senate.  In order for that to happen, there would have to be an even greater Democratic turnout at the polls for the January runoff election than there was for the presidential election last week.  And while the Democratic Party is trying hard to make that happen, it doesn’t seem particularly likely.  It’s important to remember that turnout is usually considerably lower in nonpresidential elections, and that low voter turnout tends to favor Republicans, because Republicans are the more consistent and reliable voters.   Another important thing that needs to be remembered is that some of the people who voted for Biden are Republicans who would have voted for a Republican candidate for president if that candidate had been anyone other than Trump.  Those voters are still going to want a Republican majority in the Senate.  As a matter of fact–and here is the really key point where those voters are concerned–the narrative among Republicans is that a Republican Senate majority will be the only thing stopping Biden and Harris from turning the United States into a socialist dictatorship.

So again, the Democrats (like the Republicans) will be pouring millions of dollars into these two runoffs in January, in the hopes of taking a majority in the Senate, but they have every strike against them when it comes to the chances of victory there.

Article in Politico, November 8, 2020


Friday, 1:30 p.m.: Looks Like It’s Bye-Bye Trump (but not officially yet)

Biden needs 270 electoral votes.  How many electoral votes does he have now?  That actually depends on which news site you look at.  Associated Press and Fox regard Arizona, with its 11 electoral votes, as decisively won by Biden even as the vote count continues, but the New York Times is being more cautious.  Thus, the Times tells that Biden has 253 electoral votes in the bag, while other news outlets are calling it 264.

If Biden has 264 votes, then all he needs is Nevada.  But the way things look now, Biden seems on track to win Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, in which case any other states would be bonus.  Here’s the thing about Pennsylvania:  Two days ago, Trump was ahead by at least 7 percentage points.  However, we were assured, once the absentee ballots were counted, Biden would win.  So far, that seems to be correct, because Trump’s lead over the last two days kept inching down, and this morning Biden overtook the lead.  Given that all that’s left to count in any significant number in Pennsylvania is mail-in ballots, and given that the mail-in ballots so far have been overwhelmingly in Biden’s favor, it doesn’t look plausible that Trump can retake the lead.

There’s yet another state that Biden may win, which hasn’t been considered all that much of a swing state, and that’s Georgia.  Biden pulled ahead of Trump there this morning, and as in Pennsylvania, since it’s mainly the mail-in ballots being counted, and since Biden voters were the ones who trusted mail-in voting, Georgia is looking pretty good for Biden.  And again, Biden doesn’t need Georgia.  Pennsylvania alone will give him a win, and without Pennsylvania, if he can keep his lead in both Arizona and Nevada, he will have won.

Trump, meanwhile, seems to think he’s rightfully won the election and thinks that the counting of mail-in ballots that takes away his lead in those key states is a big colossal fraud.  You’ve heard me say before that I can’t pretend to be neutral about Trump, and his behavior at present fits right in with the complete lack of dignity that he has brought to the office of the presidency and the complete lack of respect that he has for the responsibilities of the office, which include taking loss in an election a bit more gracefully.

There’s a lot that still needs to be said about the Senate, but for now, I’ll just note that it doesn’t look very promising for the Democrats to retake the majority.  I’ll post more on that after the counting is farther along, but I can say right now that two races in Georgia, one regular and one special, are heading for run-offs in January, and even if Georgia’s voters vote for Biden, that’s no predictor that they’ll vote Democratic in these two January contests.  Again, more on that on a later date.  Meanwhile, please keep watching the news updates; the major political news feeds are on the right of the main OpenLab page.


Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.: Biden Can Still Win, but So Can Trump

The news site that I’m checking throughout the day is the New York Times:  Here’s how it looks at the moment.

Trump has definitely won Florida, which keeps him in the race.  He has also won Ohio, which Biden tried to flip back to blue but that wasn’t a state he could count on.  It looks now as if Trump will be winning North Carolina, though it hasn’t been called yet.  On the bright side for Biden, he appears to be winning Arizona, which is one of the states that Trump won in 2016.

Biden is counting on winning Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.  Now, if you look on the Times site, you see Trump ahead in Pennsylvania by 11 percentage points with 75% of votes counted.  However, that doesn’t mean a whole lot, for this reason:  the 25% of votes that still remain to be counted (over a million), and that may take until Friday, are mail-in votes, and so far the counted mail-in votes have been overwhelmingly for Biden.  Biden absolutely needs Pennsylvania, and if he doesn’t win both of those other key states, he’ll need another toss-up state like Arizona, which again looks favorable for him.

But what we’re definitely not going to see is a landslide victory for Biden.  Biden’s best hope now is for a narrow victory.  While a majority of voters nationwide clearly favor Biden, about half the voters in the crucial swing state are for Trump.  So again, this election can still go either way.

Edited (at 10:30 a.m.) to add:  According to some rough math that I just did, I think that if Biden wins Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Arizona (where he is currently slightly ahead, and mail-in votes may keep him ahead), but loses Pennsylvania, he will have won by exactly one electoral vote.  Again, that’s the math I just did.  Biden currently has 227 electoral votes, he needs 43 more to win, and the electoral votes of those four states add up to exactly 43.  So if he loses Pennsylvania, he needs those four states.  If he wins Pennsylvania, he still needs most of those other four states.

Here are the numbers.

Again, Biden needs 43 more electoral votes.

Pennsylvania has 20.  Wisconsin has 10.  Michigan has 16.  Nevada has 6.  Arizona has 11.

In all of those states except Pennsylvania, Biden is slightly ahead.  If it’s true that what remains to be counted is mail-in ballots, and if it’s true that the mail-in ballots are mostly Biden votes, then Biden has a good chance of winning, though again, not by any landslide.  But Trump is still in the game.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday Night: What to Watch For

I want to make this posting very quick and concise.  I trust everybody will be looking for updates tonight (Tuesday).  We’re not going to know the results tonight from Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin, all of which are considered crucial for Biden.  However, we will be getting the results from Florida and North Carolina, and those states are important too.  Here’s the scoop on those two states:

If Biden wins Florida, then it will be a very strong probability that he has won the election.

If Biden wins North Carolina but loses Florida, that will be a good sign for Biden as well.

If Biden wins both North Carolina and Florida, then the election will be his no matter what else happens.

If Trump wins both Florida and North Carolina, the election will still be wide open, but now Biden will really need to win all three of those crucial states Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Now, about the Senate.  We probably won’t know the final results in the Senate until the end of the week, and we may not even know until January, but I’m going to give you two contests to watch tonight as an early harbinger:  North Carolina and Maine.  If the Democrats can win both of those Senate races (that is, if Cal Cunningham beats Thom Tillis in North Carolina and if Sara Gideon also beats Susan Collins in Maine, then things will look reasonably promising for the Democrats, but there will still be more results that we have to wait for.  If the Republicans win both of those contests, the Democrats will still stand some chance of retaking the Senate, but it will be a much slimmer one.

The Democrats will almost certainly be keeping their majority in the House of Representatives.  Of course, they want to increase their majority while the Republicans hope they can cut into it.

Among the places to look for regular updates is  And again, feel free to post your thoughts on the OpenLab discussion board.  We are living through history-making drama tonight and all of this week.  Let’s all help each other make sense of it all.

Notes on the Eve of the Election

Over the last few days, I’ve heard a few people suggest that we should be well stocked with provisions for the rest of the week, so that we won’t have to go out if there’s massive rioting over the election.  Some business owners have prepared by boarding up their storefronts.  There may or may not be civil war raging in the streets this week, but at minimum, it does appear that there will be some court battles.  What also appears clear is that we are not going to know for certain Tuesday night, or even any time Wednesday, who is going to be our president for the next four years, because the key states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania will have the counting of the mail-in ballots going on for the next several days.  (On the other hand, Florida may have its results sooner, and if we find out that Biden has won Florida, that will be a reasonably good sign that he has won the election.)  It may take even longer–maybe even a lot longer–for us to know which party will have the majority in the Senate.

Meanwhile, a few things have already started heating up.

Today (Monday) in Texas, a group of Republicans tried unsuccessfully to persuade a federal district court judge to invalidate 170,000 ballots that had been cast through a drive-through system in a predominately Democratic county.  Now, it’s good news that the judge did not grant their request, but a couple of things need to be noted.  First, Republicans were trying to get a large number of votes thrown out, votes that had been cast in good faith by citizens who were following procedures that state officials had told them were safe.  Secondly, before the judge made his ruling, there was some discussion of whether the fact that this judge was a conservative Republican might influence his decision.  It didn’t, but there is at least the fear among some people that judges appointed by a president of a particular party will give that party everything it wants.  And I should also take note that the judge did grant the Republicans’ request to have the records preserved of which votes were cast through that drive-through method, in case of appeal, which means the case may not be entirely closed.  (Article in Politico, November 2, 2020.)  In any case, there are likely to be battles in court this week (and maybe after) over which ballots are and aren’t valid.  It is, of course, the Republicans who see fraud in mail-in voting and in delayed counting of votes.

There may also be some attempts at voter intimidation on Election Day.  Trump has encouraged his supporters to “watch” the polls, and many interpret that as a call to make trouble.  This past Saturday, Trump supporters surrounded a Biden/Harris campaign bus in Texas, making it impossible for the campaign to hold a scheduled event in that state that night, and there was also an incident of Trump supporters blocking traffic on a New Jersey highway.  Trump has made clear that he thinks these actions are wonderful.  (Article in The Hill, November 1, 2020.)  He has also given the impression that if the early returns favor him on election night, he’ll declare victory right then and there.  (Will he concede the election Tuesday night if the early returns favor Biden?  Sure, he’ll do that right after the cow jumps over the moon.)

And now a word about the Senate: it’s a tossup.  It could go either way.  For one thing, I am under the impression that there are some Republicans in the swing states who will vote for Biden because they can’t deny that Trump is crazy, but who think the Democratic administration of Biden needs to be kept in check by a Republican Senate.  For that reason, for example, in Michigan, even if Trump wins the state’s electoral vote, we may see Republican challenger John James beat Democratic incumbent Gary Peters for the Senate seat.

Here are some more links you may find helpful, along with the news feed here on this page that’s constantly being updated:

NPR report on Trump and Biden’s prospects, October 30, 2020

NPR report on key Senate races, October 29, 2020

Fivethirtyeight site

Fivethirtyeight on the Senate races

As things unfold, I invite all of my students, past and present, to feel free to post their thoughts and observations on the OpenLab discussion board.