Those closest to President Trump know he’s a powerful man, with a powerful, but brittle, ego.
And they knew if he lost the election, he would need something to cling to in order to maintain some cushioning for his inevitable belief that he didn’t actually lose.
As the dust starts to settle, I wanted to tell you – or in some cases remind you – that this Friday is the 20th Anniversary of TPM. This year we’ve got a lot planned mark the milestone. We note it every year. But twenty years is a big one and – candidly – in the charnel house of the news media business over the last two decades it’s one I’m pretty proud of. We’ll be telling you more on Friday. But for now I just want to say thanks to all the readers who’ve been with us since the beginning and since 2002 and 2006 and 2007 and 2011 and 2017 and really at every point along the way.
As I’ve said many times, the President doesn’t need to concede. He has a warrant to exercise the executive powers of the United States until noon on January 20th when that warrant expires. He can board himself up in the White House and refuse to come out. But it doesn’t matter. That’s it. But that’s January 20th, more than two months from now. The modern presidency has a formal process called the transition, which goes back to 1963. That’s a matter of statutes and there a defeated incumbent President has some room to play games. Trump is already doing that.
A lot of people, including me, were misled by opinion polls into thinking that Democrats would make out like bandits in this election the way they did in 2018. As the “blue wave” has receded, many Democrats have gone to the opposite extreme and pronounced that outside of getting rid of Trump, the election must be counted as a failure. My own view is that the Democrats did about as well as could be expected given the political divisions in the country. Read More
Joe Biden had one job: to get 270 electoral votes. He did it. Nothing succeeds like success and really nothing matters but success. Not margins or coalitions or really anything but the fact that he got it done. Excuses would be meaningless if he hadn’t; second-guessing and potshots from the bleachers are equally so.
This isn’t the end of anything. We can see from the results even of this victorious election what just some of those challenges will be. What this is is an opportunity to stop the knifing attacks on the body politic, the fabric of our government and our almost quarter millennium old republic. How much we can repair, how much we can shift the trajectory of the country away from the decay and opaque transformations that made Trump possible … that’s all in front of us and unknown.
Here’s what you’re experiencing:
From North Carolina:
Walking to the Farmer’s market in Durham NC and we hear screaming and cheers from 2 blocks away. I start crying because I know what it means. Everyone wants to hug but everyone is staying COVID happy. ♥️♥️♥️
From Buffalo, NY:
Trump supporters in eastern Pennsylvania have been receiving what amount to anonymous incitement messages via text telling them the race is being stolen from President Trump and urging them to converge on the Philadelphia Convention Center where votes are being counted in Philadelphia. “ALERT: Radical Liberals & Dems are trying to steal this election from Trump! We need YOU!”
This is the same location where local authorities appear to have thwarted a planned terror attack on election workers two nights ago.
Some of them put out statements that alluded, vaguely, to some adherence to precedent in allowing votes to be counted. Some remained silent.
The roiling post-Tuesday debate about polling and polling errors is almost all heat and no light. It’s mostly emotionalism from people who are mad that the result wasn’t precisely as they’d seen predicted or been told or believed — conflating that with their unhappiness about the result itself. It’s also furious efforts to insist that polls being off confirmed their preexisting critiques of Biden or BLM or the left or the establishment or whatever. But there’s one thing I’ve heard over the last 72 hours that strikes me as real and meaningful and connects the largely meaningless debate about polling accuracy with quite critical questions about what is animating politics itself. And that is trust.
That’s it, folks. Joe Biden of Delaware will be the next President of the United States. Kamala Harris of California will be the next Vice President of the United States. January 20, 2021. The law is coming.
Our map won’t say it until the Associated Press gives the word. It shouldn’t be long. But it’s done.
I assume you saw the President’s comments. It’s just a disgrace. An absolute disgrace. You know that. It’s not surprising. I’m going to take a bit of time to share some considered thoughts. But what we saw looked to me like a televised psychological collapse. We know that weakness, losing, humiliation are like searing agony for him, his own personal kryptonite. And now he is there with it, alone. This will get brutal and ugly and stupid. But it’s out of his control. He’s being abandoned by the key political and institutional locuses of power. It’s ugly. It will get uglier. But it’s ending.
President Trump warned us before the election that, as early and mail-in ballots were tabulated and key states shifted blue, he was going to falsely claim that his victory was being stolen. And he warned us he would send his lawyers in to prevent that supposed theft.
But we didn’t know it was going to look like this.
One thing I’m starting to wonder about is whether the President’s campaign staff and legal team is … to put it bluntly, humoring him. The President looks like he’s in the process of losing fairly decisively. But his campaign is making a series of pretty small-bore legal challenges. Nothing that gives him a chance – even if successful – of shifting the dynamic. To be clear, that’s what should happen. You’re not supposed to try to steal the election. And you shouldn’t have a corrupted federal judiciary open to helping you do that. But if the President is going to win this in the courts – or win it in the High Court – it’s time to go big or go home. But so far he’s not.
We just need to play this out. From what I can tell the numbers in Pennsylvania not only point to a Biden win but possibly a relatively comfortable one. If that is true Arizona and Nevada and Georgia don’t matter, though Biden now seems more likely than not to win all three. Again, this is just based on reviewing the analyses of the remaining votes from people I trust.
Georgia will be razor thin either way. Almost certainly in recount territory. But again, it probably won’t matter. More significant is that we now seem set to have two senate run-offs in Georgia. This opens at least a theoretical path to Democrats controlling the Senate in January. Likely? No. But if Biden does manage to win Georgia by the slenderest of margins, you simply can’t say it’s impossible. So that means a furious battle against two not terribly popular Senators in what is now at least a swingish state.
Last night was so harrowing because the whipsaw shifts of electoral trends felt so much like the rapid and doomy collapse of Hillary Clinton’s fortunes four years ago. It was wrenching. There’s one more failsafe or firewall and then it fades into nothing. The Senate results were super disappointing too. Unless Dems pull off a miracle in Georgia Joe Biden will face Mitch McConnell running the Senate. Court reform will be off. Any significant progressive legislation is probably off the table for two years. That sucks.
But folks, Joe Biden is on the verge of winning the presidency and making Donald Trump only the fourth President to be rejected by the country in a bid for a second term in office in 108 years. Biden will have a decisive popular vote win and his party will maintain control of the House of Representatives. This is a big fucking deal. And ending Trump’s Presidency is an incredibly important accomplishment for the future of this country. That is something to savor.
I am a big believer in nuance. Broad strokes are dangerous, limiting and do little to advance productive societal conversations or close gaps or fend off the spread of disinformation.
For the first time Joe Biden now has leads in states which add up to 270 electoral votes (including Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada). And outstanding votes suggest the margins in those states – while still very tight – are likely to grow.
As the morning greets us, there are reasons for cautious optimism that Joe Biden will secure an electoral college victory. It was a very topsy turvy night for those who didn’t stay up for the whole thing. (Quite against my will I am still up from last night. Tried to sleep; failed; pulled out my iPad again to see things shifting around 4 AM.) One of the weird dynamics of the last 12 hours is that there was very little clear analysis of what the initial returns meant. Cable networks treated Ohio as a possible Biden pick up and a harbinger of midwestern strength for Biden. It ended up being a decisive Trump win. Georgia was portrayed as part of the southeastern sweep even though for most of the evening most of metro Atlanta and other urban areas had only reported a comparatively few votes. Biden may have the slightest, slightest of advantages in the remaining counting there now. I’m not entirely sure why this was the case. Going from normal returns counting to layering on uncertain mixes of mail-in, early and election day votes with decisive partisan skews is a bit like going from 3 to 4 dimensions. It’s complicated. Still, in cable network commentary it seemed to go out the window. I stuck to my list of numbers crunchers.
There was so much that was ominous in that brief speech by the President. But here’s maybe the most. This is such a shocking statement that you might think it would be some turning point where President Trump has just gone too far. And yet, this is not surprising. This is not some shocking departure from the President we’ve known for these four years. And yet it’s clear that at least close to enough people voted for his reelection.
President Trump’s statement – still underway – is a disgrace. He’s basically making the argument that we’ve heard predicted for weeks: ‘I was winning and then suddenly something happened and now they’re stealing it from me.’ It’s a pretty close paraphrase.
He’s now openly calling it a fraud and saying he won.
This statement makes me think that the Trump campaign thinks it’s losing.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. But the dynamics of pandemic voting have totally upended number-counters’ ability to make sense of the results. In a way it doesn’t matter. In most cases, it doesn’t really matter if there are premature predictions. The results will be what they are. But it is continuing to create all sorts of seesaw, roller-coastering results and non-results, results that turn out not to be results. Ohio and North Carolina were looking good for Democrats until they weren’t. But now North Carolina looks at least a bit less than certain again. For reasons I didn’t quite understand people were giving Trump Georgia — but without waiting for the big cities and especially Atlanta to report. Now Georgia’s back up in the air. Fox News called Arizona for Biden but no one else has followed them. Now that seems less than certain. It’s all over the place. I stick to what I said: patience, count the votes, I’m very cautiously optimistic.
Folks, it’s been a bruising, bruising evening so far. What looked like a possible Biden blowout is certainly not turning out that way. It seems like Florida, Texas and probably North Carolina are all going to President Trump. It feels a lot like 2016. But I want to stress that in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, most of the Democratic votes don’t seem to have been counted yet. At least the particular counties I’m seeing make it look like Biden is in a good position to win these three states. Outside of the Southeast there are many counties across the country where Biden has improved the margins over Clinton in 2016. Meanwhile Biden appears to be winning Arizona, though that’s not quite certain yet.