Here it is, the night of anticipation. I’ve made no secret of my confidence regarding a Biden win, but any degree of certainty I have is ultimately just a prediction. What matters is the actual count… and the actual count is going to be coming in through the night and beyond.
Numbers from the past have been wrong. Exit polls predicted an easy win for John Kerry in 2004, and Bush wound up the clear winner both in the electoral vote count and in the popular vote as well. The most popular predictive model in 2016 had Trump with less than a 30% chance to win, and he wound up defeating Hillary Clinton.
By the same token, polls are usually a good way to approximate final results. When properly administered and weighted they have been demonstrated to be useful, which is why people continue to get paid to conduct them.
Tonight we get to see the first indicators regarding the accuracy of polling in 2020. The initial numbers for mail ballots have already been tabulated in most states, so we should start to get numbers fairly quickly after the polls close.
There are a slew of moving parts here: heavy turnout normally favors the challenger, but there’s also concern about COVID-19 keeping voters away from the polls, and the ones most likely to be affected by COVID-19 are the elderly so they may face a depressed turnout… it just goes on and on, and that’s before we approach the state and local levels, where factors are weighted differently from place to place.
So, basically, we at TNB not even going to try. In my case, I’ve already stated my thoughts on the topic a few times, most recently this morning. Instead we’re going to provide a few links for you and we’re going to update the thread as states report or as oddities (such as announced legal challenges or concession speeches) occur.
I’ll be enjoying some chips & salsa or possibly a cheese plate, and I’ll be drinking… not my favored calvados & cranberry ginger ale (because I’m out of the cranberry ginger ale) but simple rum & cokes, because I still have many bottles of the 137 proof hurricane rum that I bought as potential emergency sanitizer toward the beginning of the pandemic. If I were worried, I’d probably be drinking vodka gimlets. I didn’t even bother purchasing any lime juice. Once again I indicate where my expectations lie.
But while I hope that the conclusion will be evident before 11 PM Eastern, I will not be remotely surprised if close elections in key states drag out the final call for days. Don’t enter into the night expecting certainty before you sleep, because that may not come.
Having issued that warning, I encourage anyone interested to chat it up in the comment section as you will. And if you’re one of the many people who recognize that this election concerns far more than just Trump/Biden… check the companion story, which should have gone live shortly before this one.
Here are some coverages… pick your poison, whether it’s ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or The Hill.
UPDATE 1: That was fast… as expected. New Hampshire being called for Biden, Kentucky for Trump. Biden : 3 / Trump : 8
UPDATE 2: West Virginia for Trump. Biden : 3 / Trump : 13.
UPDATE 3: Virginia for Biden. Biden : 16 / Trump : 13
UPDATE 4: Let’s go big… Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois for Biden. Tennessee, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi for Trump. Biden 88 / Trump 55
UPDATE 5: Indiana for Trump. Biden 88 / Trump 66
UPDATE 6: Okay, kiddo’s in bed… where are we? We’ve seen New York, D.C., Colorado and New Mexico break for Biden, with Trump taking Louisiana, both Dakotas, Wyoming, Nebraska and Arkansas. Current tally, Biden 131 / Trump 93. Florida looks likely to go Trump, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania are trending toward Biden, and Texas (which was leaning Biden for much of the night due to early voting numbers) has shifted slightly into the Trump column.
UPDATE 7: Well, damn, it’s not going to be settled tonight. But, because this is being addressed so much in the comments below, I’ll address it here….
AFTER the numbers: Idaho, Utah and Kansas went to Trump; California, Oregon and Washington went to Biden. Biden: 209 / Trump 119
NOW: Even though Nevada has yet to call, or Alaska, or Hawaii, it’s obvious this isn’t going to be over tonight.
This is because of mail-in voting, which was used extensively by many due to the pandemic.
While early voting tallies were compiled in most states and ready to go, the same does not hold for mail ballots. Thus what we expected to see breaks down in three groups.
- The early voting numbers, which were expected to lean strongly for Biden. They would be announced shortly after polls closed, and would result in quick jumps for Biden in places where early voting was allowed.
- The in person voting numbers, which were expected to lean strongly for Trump. They would be announced as the counting was confirmed in various precincts, and would result in Trump outpacing Biden in new votes as the night progressed.
- The mail voting numbers, which are expected to lean strongly for Biden. They are being tallied starting today and progressing through the next few days.
This creates a nice little bell curve. Right now, we’re at the end of the second part of that curve… and Biden didn’t manage to overcome Trump’s in person voting push. This prevents Biden from reasonably declaring victory; in states where he’s ahead, if remaining votes were known to favor him 2:1 or greater, he could confidently declare he’d won. As it is, he might or might not… and Trump can’t reasonably say he won, either, because there are a bunch of votes left to count and it’s known that they are likely to break heavily against him.
Of course, he’ll say he did, anyway… and his supporters, who have been told for weeks that mail-in voting is rife with fraud, will insist that any states that shift back to Biden were stolen. There will be no evidence to support that claim, but it will still be levelled.
This is the real failure of tonight. Not that Biden has lost or that Trump has won… in all likelihood, Biden is still going to pull a solid win from the election… but that there is now enough for Trump to contest the election and further divide the country.