Wednesday, November 04, 2020

The Tumultuous Wait

 So now that Election Day has moved us from the Campaign phase of the US election to the Recount and Litigation phase, a few thoughts as we continue not to know for sure whom we have elected.

(1) This election has been a disaster for polling as a profession. It's not that they were wrong -- projections from polling are always going to be messy and even the best practices will get wrong answers. It's the combination of the following two:

(a) They were consistently wrong, repeatedly suggesting massive blowouts in favor of Biden time and again that were already large enough to make people suspicious on purely causal grounds.
(b) The polling that turned out to yield much more accurate projections than usual (Trafalgar being the most notable case) was actively disparaged and mocked by mainstream pollsters.

(2) It was a great night for pro-legalization movements, and a good night for Republicans. Both Biden and Trump had good turnout, Biden's less than had been hoped but still quite good in general.

(3) COVID Election will certainly end up crazier than the Hanging Chad Election. Recounts and litigation make everybody crazy, but they serve an important function in the process, namely, maintaining election integrity over time. Voter fraud and voter suppression do occur; indeed, in an election as large as the American election, they are guaranteed to do so. The scale gets exaggerated by the parties according to their convenience, but they do happen, and the issues need to be addressed, even while recognizing that the exaggerations will happen as well. There will be a lot of litigation this year; there will be a lot of recounts.

(4) Trump's showing among both Blacks and Latinos was impressive; it will no doubt boggle the minds of many college-educated whites, but the evidence consistently suggests that Trump is the most minority-supported Republican presidential candidate in quite some time.

(5) The US has a multi-stage election. The statutory Safe Harbor deadline, when states have to give their conclusive tallies, is December 8. The Electoral College meets to determine who will be president on December 14. Keep in mind that if the presidential election is within two or three Electoral College Votes, which this election will very likely be, it is actually too close to call until the Electoral College actually votes. The end of the presidential election comes only when the official Electoral College count occurs in Congress on January 6.

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