Mr. Trump, If You Can’t Wait for Full Results, We’re Happy to Call the Election Now
If Donald Trump thinks he can insist on knowing the results of the election on election night or, if not, call the entire election a fraud, many of us would be happy to call it right now, based on the polls.
Mr. Trump, you lose. In other words [insert your own hokey dramatic pause here] — you’re fired.
At the time of this writing, Joe Biden leads Trump in a number of national polls by double digits. A CNN poll has Biden-Harris up by 16 points nationally. The Democratic ticket also leads by a healthy margin in a number of key “battleground states” — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Biden has pulled slightly ahead in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and Ohio, and he is running nearly even with Trump in Georgia and Iowa, states where Trump won big in 2016.
My suggesting that we not complete the election and just go with the polls is, of course, a joke — but not entirely, because of the incessant attacks on voting rights Trump and his many Republican enablers in Congress continue to allow in respect to the election of 2020:
· The unsubtle machinations by Trump supporter/Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in removing mailboxes and mail-sorting machines in post offices in key areas of the country and in generally bad mouthing the institution he is supposed to lead.
· Trump’s constant braying from the bully pulpit (as always, emphasis on bully) about how mail-in ballots are fraudulent (all the while telling his supporters to get their mail-in ballots and voting that way himself).
· Attorney General William Barr repeatedly parroting Trump’s unfounded claims about fraud and mail-in ballots (while also voting that way himself).
· Asking supporters in North Carolina to illegally attempt to vote twice, to test the system.
· Asking supporters (off-duty cops, retired military, “Proud Boys,” grizzled motorcycle guys with stringy gray ponytails, etc.) to illegally patrol polling places to intimidate voters.
· Threatening general violence on election day, and after, as mail-in and provisional ballots begin to be counted.
· Working behind the scenes (as reported by Barton Gellman in The Atlantic) to manipulate Electoral College electors in key states.
· Announcing repeatedly that he may not honor the results of the election or a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.
Whew! If Trump’s actual campaign chairman isn’t Vladimir Putin, it might as well be. But perhaps William Barr is perfectly evil enough to “stand back and stand by” in Trump’s plan to steal the election.
Again, nearly all his Republican enablers in Congress remain silent, indicating they are perfectly fine with every little bit of this, the end of democracy in this country and the move to a dictatorship under the Trump organized crime family.
Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat him, rather soundly, by nearly 3 million votes. And it’s worth remembering that the number would have been higher had not the Trump campaign openly encouraged and worked with (e.g., campaign chair Paul Manafort discussing campaign tactics with Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik and handing over polling data to him) the Russians to hack the election and had not Republicans simultaneously worked feverishly, in multiple ways, to take the voting franchise away from citizens of color.
Trump’s 2016 campaign, led by campaign manager Brad Parscale, reportedly maintained a “Deterrence” list, a list of types of voters they wanted explicitly to motivate to not exercise their right as citizens, including some 3.5 million Black voters. (Parscale was lately in the news for being demoted in his campaign duties — for the Tulsa campaign event debacle — and, most recently, for exhibiting threatening behavior at home with a gun and allegedly threatening his wife, Candice, for declining to have sex with him.)
In the end, Trump apparently squeaked by with some 80,000 votes in three key states for his less than brag-worthy Electoral College win. (In a tweet, he claimed he won an “Electoral College landslide,” but his was not at all a victory of that caliber.)
But Trump still disputes those numbers, so if you think he will accept a defeat in both popular vote and the Electoral College — even a resounding one — you might want to think again.
With at least $300 million in “personally guaranteed” outstanding loans coming due in the next few years, as reported by The New York Times, and other tax fraud charges pending in New York, Trump has much more to lose here than an election, and he will fight like (to utilize his preferred mobster lexicon) a cornered rat to stay in power. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Cay Johnston recently remarked in an interview on MSNBC that personally guaranteeing loans are not what wealthy people do and that Trump likely owes more than a billion dollars. To whom?
Trump imagined himself a successful businessman, when nothing could have been further from the truth. Now he also imagines himself a strongman. Based on his “The Apprentice” persona, Trump conned people into buying the former fantasy, and it appears that he has some level of support for his slow-motion coup, which seems to have been the plan since he entered the White House. (Remember, many Republicans said they thought Putin a much better leader than Obama; they sold T-shirts and did a good business with that one. Were they impressed with Putin because he is white or because he is an authoritarian — or both?)
Importantly, what we see now in the polls, just weeks from “election day” (though tens of millions of people — reportedly, a record number — are voting now and will continue to do so through October) should inform the process of counting ballots after election night. Polls can, of course, be off, and the situation in an election can change, but these polls have been pretty fixed for some time now. And, again, Biden has a double-digit lead nationally and healthy leads in the most contested states for the Electoral College. As of this writing, modeling at FiveThirtyEight (yes, yes, I know) gives Trump only a 15 in 100 chance of winning the election.
What is the history of elections with polls sitting like this in October? Has any candidate (much less a sociopathic one whose seemingly deliberate mishandling of a health crisis has cost untold American lives and jobs) ever made up this much ground? Trump did make up a lot of ground against Clinton in 2016, but that was with the help of Russian hackers and an unwitting James Comey. According to FiveThirtyEight, her largest leads that October were just under 7 percent, right before Comey sent his infamous letter about re-opening the investigation into Clinton emails to Congress on October 28.
It is instructive that in 2016 voters in New York City overwhelmingly voted against Trump. In Manhattan, the vote went 9–1 for Clinton; even in Queens, Trump’s old stamping grounds, it wasn’t much better. Why would Trump be such a loser in the city he called home?
They know who he is.
As quintessential Manhattanite Fran Lebowitz put it in an interview with The Guardian in 2018: “Everyone says he is crazy — which maybe he is — but the scarier thing about him is that he is stupid. You do not know anyone as stupid as Donald Trump. You just don’t.”
And now all of America has had ample time to fully comprehend who he is: a lazy, vindictive, openly racist man who hyped his way into a unwarranted reputation as a great businessman while losing untold amounts of his father’s money; a man of no curiosity and no empathy who cares only for himself and, thus, who could not possibly fulfill the duties required of a leader at any level, much less the presidency.
As Biden put it during the first debate, referring to Trump’s comment about the vast number of Americans dead as a result of the pandemic, “‘It is what it is’ because you are who you are.” With that comment, Biden seemed to be alluding to much more than Trump’s appalling, seemingly intentional, failure to lead during the pandemic.
And surely that is what Democratic lawyers prepping for Trump’s dangerous maneuvers and threats around the election are taking into consideration right now — the polls indicate that the mood of the country has changed. Trump may have squeaked into office in 2016, but it doesn’t appear that he will this time. And, of course, he knows it.
Trump is such a coward that he could never fire someone face to face; he invariably does it by tweet. So it is fitting that he understands that the American public is firing him right now, in slow motion, through the mail.