There will almost certainly not be any wild swings of opinion about Donald Trump 48 hours before what we used to call “Election Day” but that now can rightly be termed, “election season.” With early voting and tens of millions of mail-in ballots, “Election Day” seems a somewhat quaint, old fashioned term.
This time around, the prospects are very good that “election night” will become an “election fortnight” and beyond.
People made up their minds about Donald Trump long ago. No last-minute surprise will affect the election outcome, unknowable as that is at this point. All that’s left is to count the votes — but that’s another bedtime story.
This country has been riven in two and is in real danger of splitting wide open. We don’t need polls to tell us that. Nor do we need polls to tell us that the election will be close — a lot closer than most of the experts are saying.
Thanks to a huge Biden lead in big states like California, New York, and Illinois, the Democrat is ahead in the popular vote. But, as we all know, the presidency will be decided in the Electoral College. And here, Donald Trump is fiercely competitive.
Trump is polling within striking distance of Joe Biden in Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. Republicans are gaining on Democrats in the early vote in Florida. If the president can carry the Sun Belt states he won in 2016 and beat Biden in Pennsylvania, he could well hold the White House for four more years.
“For as bad as all this s—t is,” said Jeff Roe, the Republican strategist who steered Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign, “you can certainly see how he could win.”
In truth, looking at the state of the nation from a political point of view, Trump shouldn’t even be within smelling distance of Biden. A pandemic, tens of millions unemployed, riots, unrest — it’s truly remarkable — even historical — that Trump is as close as he is to Biden in the dozen or so battleground states that are still being contested.
It does not bode well for the future of America.
Last week, a Democratic strategist who works with major party donors drew up a series of potential maps that included one Trump victory with 279 Electoral College votes, one tie and one scenario in which it’s “259-259 going into 3 a.m. and Pennsylvania is the last state that hasn’t been called.”
If that happens, all of Trump’s preparations for post-Election Day legal challenges will loom large. “If we don’t win on election night, they will fight this, and they will come away with a victory,” the strategist said.
I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. America needs a clear and convincing victor from this race or the chances of major civil unrest increase dramatically. The days when both sides calmly accepted the results of elections — even very close elections — appear to be long gone. The faith in the process has disappeared. It’s “voter suppression!” It’s “voter fraud!” Your side didn’t lose because the other side had better ideas or a better candidate. You lost because they cheated.
In that sense, it’s not going to matter who wins or loses because the outcome will be the same. And unless both sides try their best to keep the situation under control, the election aftermath won’t be pretty.