Over the last 48 hours I’ve had a number of people ask me, ‘What’s going on here? Is this a fundraising stunt? A coup? A protracted effort to protect Trump’s feelings? Just an effort to delegitimize Biden’s presidency?’ I think it mistakes Trump to think that he’s even decided or ever will, that it’s one and not another as opposed to all of the above. Donald Trump doesn’t do strategy. He does impulse. The most defining pattern of his life is to respond to reverses by seeking to throw his adversaries off balance with an audaciously aggressive play and then work it for all its worth.
As we look out onto the terrain of the future everyone is trying to make sense of the post-Trump landscape. This is particularly so since the race was not a blow out and Democrats actually had reverses in the House and down ballot. But I think everyone is giving too little place to the uncertainty and instability of the electoral future.
The story of the Trump presidency is that the suburbs and the college educated trended hard to the Democrats while non-college educated, more rural voters went toward the President. Notably, in 2020 these patterns began to bleed outside of white America. The President made gains with some Hispanic Americans and to a degree with black men.
As this election blurred forward I was taking notes for more editions of our “Brittle Grip” Series, the phenomenon of the super powerful and super rich feeling increasingly insecure in their power and wealth even as both wax. One of the key features of this new Gilded Age is the ultra-wealthy and ultra-powerful arguing that their ultra-wealth and ultra-power opens them up to criticism and animosity which entitles them to unique and greater rights and powers to protect themselves. I was forced ahead of schedule this morning by news out of St. Louis from the McCloskeys, the husband and wife sixty-something lawyers who entered the campaign drama when they came out of their house brandishing firearms and threatening to murder protestors who happened to be walking by their house. The couple has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the photographer who took those iconic pictures of them with their guns.
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.
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.
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.
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.