The blue wave predicted by the polls did not come—and America may face days or weeks of litigationby Sionaidh Douglas-Scott / November 4, 2020 / Leave a comment
Another bitter, drawn-out election in the US. It’s Wednesday morning in Texas, where I currently live. The predicted “blue wave” for the Democrats failed to emerge (although they have retained the House of Representatives). So much for the pre-election polls. Texas remains a red state. The Republicans have done surprisingly well but have certainly not won yet, as Trump groundlessly claimed a few hours ago. It seems that Joe Biden is the most likely winner at this stage. Many postal votes still have to be counted in the key “rust-belt” states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, and those votes will be crucial in determining the outcome. So with no clear winner yet, I’ll make the following observations.
1. This is an election like no other. Why? First, it is being held in the middle of a pandemic. Over 230,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 (certain racial groups being disproportionately affected) and many more have suffered economically. Trump has not received high ratings for his handling of the pandemic and that ought to be a defining issue of the election, but it has become politicised. Scientists and experts are not always believed, and wearing a mask may be taken as a sign of political affiliation as much as a public health measure. Conduct of the election has altered as a result of the virus: postal and early voting has been extraordinarily high—over 100m voted before election day. Nonetheless, voters still managed to elect a candidate to the state legislature in North Dakota who died of coronavirus a month ago.
2. Trump has been a highly polarising President, and the US is an extraordinarily divided country. He has even divided his party. Confirmed Republicans—such as John McCain’s widow Cindy McCain and former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake—endorsed Biden. In the streets of Dallas there are signs reading “Republicans for Biden.” This election has seen the highest turnout for over a century, with strongly entrenched views on both sides. It is deeply riven by what Carl Bernstein described as a “cold civil war.” Democrats tend to do well in cities, with younger voters, and in more racially diverse areas. Republicans do better with older voters (apparently despite the higher toll of Covid-19 on the elderly) and in rural populations,…