Friday, November 6, 2020

Welcome back America. Thoughts on Biden's win updated November 17, 2020

Update: 11/14/20 Biden's victory of 306 electoral votes is just as much a "landslide" as Trump's win four years ago. It was, if anything, poetic justice because they were the same. Trump called his win in 2016 a "landslide". In popular votes, still being counted, Biden in 2020, won the popular vote by 4 to 5 million. Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton in 2016 by three million. Trump's attempt to use the courts to overturn the election by charging fraud has failed and "faithless electors" have barriers to flip in the electoral college because of legal battles it would cause. Biden's victory was due to narrow wins in swing, key states...not robust wins, but enough to run up the electoral vote count and pass the 270 threshold early in the count and easily. There are still recounts triggered by state laws that vary from state to state, but recounts would have to show 10 to 15 thousand errors in enough of those swing states since accusations of fraud have been tossed out in courts or affected too small a number to make any difference in the outcome. That "faithless electors" to the electoral college who do not follow each state's popular vote is also possible, but it is unlikely given legal challenges and state laws, as well as a large number of states that Biden won that would require so many to be faithless in many states. ../

Domestically, the results contained both good and bad news. The good news for Democrats is that they won and Trump will be removed from the Oval Office. The executive orders that Trump issued that so rankled Democrats will be reversed, even if the path through Congress will remain problematic for turning public policy into laws. The ability for Biden to maximize his agenda depends on the balance in the Senate and the outcome of the Georgia run-off results in the race for two senate seats.

The bad news was this was not the blowout of Trump's GOP that Democrats and Never Trumpers had hoped. Why? It appears it was a referendum on Trump, but not on the GOP supporters. In fact, the GOP down-ballot made gains. There was a great deal of split-ticket voting. In short, it means Democrats have serious challenges ahead, especially in getting their agenda done. It also means Trumpism will be alive and well and nipping at the heels of the Biden administration for the next four years and the GOP is now the Trumpist Party.On basic issues the election revealed a deep division on issues, as well, that will likely persist over the next four years. Noteworthy:" There was also less Republican support among older segments of the population: ages 45 to 64 and ages 65 and older. This decrease in Republican support was even more pronounced for 45- to 64-year-old whites: from 28% in 2016 to 19% in 2020 (see downloadable Table A). This is evident in several battleground states."  It was a shift from 2016 ,  particularly significant in heavily retirement population in Arizona which helped Biden win there.

There was lower white support for Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin that swung them to Biden. Flipping those states were the game cincher for Biden.  Also, both white college-educated men and women increased support for Biden over 2016.

One exit poll actually said the significant shift toward Biden in the suburbs was not women, but college educated men and  seniors.  Biden did worse in 2020 than 2016 with minority groups. Whether this is an outlier or not deserves serious consideration and review since if Biden is trying to construct a government that reflects America, he might take this in making his decision. Election 2020 exit polls: Political pundits utterly failed to predict Donald Trump's voters (

The most comprehensive exit poll: Election Exit Polls 2020 - The New York Times (

The impact of the Biden victory on the rest of the world was more than just a preference of personality characteristics. The US brand of democracy, which had been the gold standard of so many advocates of democracy throughout the world since the end of World War II,. was endangered by a turn to autocracy and ethnic and racial strife. Some counties had also followed the Trump model, Poland, Hungary, and Brazil. Those same dark forces were at work elsewhere, lurking and poised to follow suit, and if Trump's model succeeded and they would be emboldened and empowered. Polls of Europeans showed an 80% preference for Biden over Trump. Those conflicts could have torn the unity of NATO apart as hyper-nationalism threatened alliances and Trump was the cheerleader in weakening the alliance, constantly threatening its mutual defense provisions in a continent still threatened by Russian expansionism. The French said it best: Welcome back America. One European country that had been torn apart in the worst ethnic conflicts since World War II, Bosnia, per my friends there, breathed a sigh of relief and draped the 500-year-old iconic bridge in Mostar in red, white, and blue and danced on the bridge to celebrate Biden's win. They saw America back as the democratic, multi-ethnic goal they hoped for their own country and feared Trumpism was a threat to those aspirations..

.It appears that Colorado is blue, not pastel blue. Biden won the state by around 14% of the vote. However, when it comes to national elections, this country is not like Colorado. In fact, it is not even pale blue. It is deep blue and bright red and some lavender, especially in areas with increasing racial diversity.. It also means that Biden is not going to get much done if he wins this with a Senate still red, that looks likely this AM and a House even less expect compromises and a very watered down liberal agenda. This will not make progressives happy but reality dictates half a loaf is better than crumbs. There is a huge amount to be done in the Hispanic community if Democrats even have a chance to win in 2024. While Democrats were strategically correct to focus on the African American vote, they neglected the concerns of the Hispanic community that is not a monolith and needs a state by state tailoring. Their single-minded focus had assumed minority voters were similar in attitudes, but Latino and Asians saw their self-interests differently, and even in conflict with liberal affirmative action goals in California. In border Texas, US Hispanics actually swung toward Trump with less sympathy with the human rights of immigrants than liberals had anticipated. It also means that socialism is still a dirty word with all but a part of the Democratic party. There is enough of a center for a centrist, moderately left of center like Joe Biden, to win in 2020.

The exception is COVID, where prior to the vote and exit polls confirmed that Trump voters were those who thought it was more important to open the economy and get people back to work than to fear the death and infection rates. . Besides, they argued, Trump was not to blame. It was what it was and it came from China. The liberal assumption that unemployment and business closures would drive voters to Democrats even had the opposite effect with some counties most impacted by COVID sometimes voting strongly for Trump.    Biden's "build back better" did not resonate with them as MAGA took on a return to life pre-COVID was more convincing because they had hands-on experience with it and Biden's promises were just that: promises. The Democrats had the opposite approach that never gained expected traction. They tried to blame the COVID economic crash on Trump and opening up the economy, denial of the danger of COVID, and making it a partisan hyped-up issue resonated. The early summer stimulus took stings out of the virus's impact on the economy as did the summer season dimmed the threat of the virus. The predicted fall season virus upswing began too late to make much difference n perception of COVID's dangers and aided Trump's constant yammering that Democrats were hyping the virus to make him look bad.

. Democrats took the position the COVID economic impact. did not have to be so bad because the President lied and failed to do more of what he could have done. Democrats also had a values argument: It was more important to worry about getting sick because it was worse than the flu or to and it was impossible to open the economy and still care about odds that granny and grandpa would die. . The best attempt at "you can have your cake and eat it, too and we can open business safely" was Biden's retort to Trump's "we just have to get used to living with the virus" was "we are dying with the virus". It was not enough to change the equation. In spite of this, the economy was Trump's ace in the hole, his only one that offset his negatives of character, incompetence, anti-democracy, misogynism, and racism.

Post thoughts 11/13/20 With 1000 Covid deaths a day, any GOPFOX BS that this was all Democratic hysteria will in time be BS that takes care of itself. The virus did not go away after Nov. 3. Experience will be the best teacher of the fooled.

Another ineffective argument advanced by Democrats that Trump was out to destroy democracy in his lust to be an autocrat or was similar to the early days of 1930's fascists. The most fearful of a Trump win were my German-American friends near my generation's age who had been there, seen that before they emigrated to America. My own personal experiences with the aftermath of World War II and experiencing the reality of communist dictators first hand were unique. It was an argument with an appeal to those of us who treasure the beauty of the checks and balances of the Constitution, with its protection of human and civil rights, but it is hard to show how day to day lives of Americans would the affected. It was just too much of an abstract concept, in spite of how fundamentally basic it is to the kind of liberal democracy we have or the shining light on the hill for the world we used to be and are again. Why? I suspect there needs some careful examination of the content and emphasis of our education curriculum.

In Miami, the Trump campaign touted the issue that Democrats were socialists. For Florida Hispanics, socialism is a specially dirty word. The GOP played on those fears successfully and it cost Democrats Florida. Traditions of those of older refugee Latin American generations until very recently was that dictators like Peron to Pinochet were tolerated so long as what they dictated was in the self-interest of those who supported them and that if their self-interested cohorts lost out, there was always a cure by the military junta. Cubans and Venezuelan refugees and their descendants blamed socialist promises by populist demagogues for bringing on the hated populist authoritarian regimes that caused them to flee. What Democrats advocated was tax policy fairness that did not favor the ultra-wealthy and more popular government programs that appealed to many. That smacked too much of socialism to these Latin American exiles. Where the Democrats fell down was a failure to counter those fears. They tried but they could have elevated the "human rights" message that all dictators were bad, and Trump wanted to be one. Yet to be seen is whether the significant numbers of younger generations of Miami Cubans and Latin exiles will change their views and differ from their elders. Democrats could have made a better case based upon Biden's approach to health care insurance: Since when does extend Medicare to those who are 60 or forcing competitive bidding for pharmacy companies to provide cheaper drugs for those on Medicare, social security, and Medicaid be the kind of socialism they fear. If so those so afraid of socialism should get not take discounts provided for ACA insurance, refuse social security checks, and give up their medicare cards. Love paying community college tuition? Enjoy and fight Biden's goal tooth and nail. Happy that only the ultra-rich got Trump's tax cuts? Hopefully, you are ultra-rich and happy about that. I think their fears could have been seen as silliness they were if they gave these issues some thought.

The failure to pay attention to a significant number of Latinos also likely cost Democrats a crack at turning Texas blue. However, in Arizona Latinos came out in droves, angered by "show me your papers" and other discriminatory GOP practices. Just supporting Dreamers, damning Trump for caging children, and reminding them of Trump's racist rants against all undocumented immigrants were, not enough, . Cultural and religious conservatism, a good economy, a patriarchal tradition were also factors in Democrat's inability to match even Hillary Clinton's support from the Hispanic community,,.I suspect.

 Jobs not mobs vs hugs, not thugs?. One of the catchiest slogans the GOP ads used that appealed to racism and fears and economic hopes were "jobs not mobs", referring to both peaceful and violent George Floyd demonstrators in the summer. The Democrats obliged with some in their ranks calling for "defund the police". Biden was the first Democrats to decry that, but no one seemed to have been listening and as he tried the keep his coalition together, he still needed the anti-police on his page. It was that threading the needle that fed the fears of Trump leaning voters that hurt Democrats. On the other hand, Trump's constant dog whistles in support of "militias" with trains of long gun brandishing muscle men and their muscle trucks driven and populated with mostly white middle-aged males, was just as frightening to the left as well as to many in the middle who tired of the bullying by the President and his testosterone-fueled "trains". Biden's Mr. Rogers approach may have been ridiculed, but it was a contrast to the hate-mongering, lying rabble-rousing oratory of the President and his loyal followers. At the dawn of Friday, November 6,, as the sun rose on a likely Biden win and after two cups of coffee, I had a "why didn't I think of the comeback before" moment: Perhaps with a smile, the counter slogan should have been "hugs not thugs". It might have appealed to those who saw strutting militia as political thugs. Oh, well. if there is any violence anticipated in the next weeks, the most likely violence will come from the "thugs", not the winners. It still may have some validity in shaping public opinion in the coming weeks if the "militias" act out violently. Already some thugs have been arrested: Whether these are just QAnon fringes, or are harbingers of the days ahead, we will soon see. As of 11/13/20 no one has taken to the streets in any significant number on either side. The minorities were successful in ousting Trump, so they are not angry, and maybe the political thugs on the right are still believing Trump won because he told them he won and they are still waiting for every "legal" vote to be counted.

While the gender gap persists, the women's vote followed the past trends of 8% more favoring Democrats in spite of the misogyny and character issues that one would think should have increased the women's vote against Trump/. . While the leadership by Black women made the difference in Biden's win because of turnout and registration efforts, the actual vote did not show that much change overall in the difference in the gap from the past. Trump's campaign to scare suburban women that Black people were going to move into their neighborhoods or march through them as Democrats "defund police" may have worked to some extent. The issue of choice was not the motivation determining the size of the gap, but other issues such as the economy and health care, were more important, per exit polls.

We now have 2 QAnon adherents elected to from Colorado's western slope. Are they really as nutty as we think...or do those who waive Q signs at Trump rallies believe in their wild conspiracies? The estimate is that Q supporters are 2.6 of the population. Doing some math myself, that is 9 million people. Here is the basis for that estimate.

QAnon Supporters Aren’t Quite Who You Think They Are

A Facebook friend suggested that certain urban governments are corrupt and it de facto follows that any vote from those areas should not be trusted as being free of fraud. To trust their vote, maybe we should "fix" corruption in those cities first if we wanted to trust their votes..(By Nov. 13, the GOP lost their hundreds of lawsuits fail for lack of evidence of fraud). My response:

I served as an election commissioner in Denver for nearly 8 years. When one questions a specific urban area as running a corrupt election because all of its officials are considered corrupt is not an argument that flies in any court. Evidence counts, not guilt by association. We in Denver bent over backward to make voting accessible to all...regardless of party. The attempt by Trump to target Black and Hispanic voters by making it harder to vote, not easier, including limiting drop off to one or two per county regardless of size..including the urban areas, especially in Texas, I found despicable and a slap at the basic tenant of democracy. The slowdown of postal delivery in specific minority-dominated urban areas is a matter of documented post office provided statistics. Threatening to have armed militia as poll watchers or to vote twice to test the system put supporters up to commit felonies..and I guarantee these efforts were not aimed at white-dominated areas. What we cannot trust is a party that made such an effort to suppress the vote of those they figured would not be "their votes". To do this in the name of protecting vote from fraud in advance was a threat to rationalize their suppression efforts, but one that has proven post-vote to be BS as no evidence has been submitted in any Trump-backed post-election suit to date, with the certification of vote deadlines and electoral college vote a matter of weeks away. Furthermore, many of the swing states election officials were Republicans who took their job seriously, and not an opportunity to corrupt the vote outcome. When one questions a specific urban area as running a corrupt election because all of its officials are considered corrupt is not an argument that flies in any court. Evidence counts, not guilt by association. Earlier in Wisconsin and then again in Georgia in November this overt attempt by GOP operatives created a backlash resulting in a turnout of exactly the demographics the GOP tried to suppress.

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