The time has come. The day we have all been longing for, waiting for, pleading for, will soon arrive. So much pent-up energy, so much anger, so much confusion, so much hopelessness, so much exhaustion, so much retaliation, so much bickering, so much sickness, so much inequality, so much too much.
Tuesday, November 3 is election day. It is D-Day for so many, or maybe more appropriately titled “DD-Day” as in “Dump Donald Day” As a political junkie, and now columnist, I have been hammered with questions for the last month about the election. “Will Trump lose?” "Is Biden really that far ahead?" “Can Trump possibly win?” “Will he cheat?” “Is this 2016 all over again?” “What will happen?” “Please, tell me something positive?”
As a person, I generally refrain from bragging about optimistic possibilities and hopeful outcomes. If I start boasting or pontificating, the consequence will be jinxed. I have a theory that says when you think you’ve got life by the balls, life comes along and rips them off. Harsh but true. Simplistically, I live and breathe the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I have never bet for or against them. And never been cocky about predicting victories for them. I know that sounds silly, but that’s me.
To hedge my non-bets, I will take myself out of the equation, and acting as a journalist and political aficionado, I will let that person espouse as to what might happen on DD-Day, and the days and weeks following. Taking this route, I can assure myself that I’m forecasting about the presidential election with my superstitions in check.
Four years ago, the political junkie in me knew Donald Trump would win, and people laughed. I was loud about it because I was worried, and also thinking that if I said it out loud, it wouldn’t happen. This time, the professional in me is telling you loud and clear that Joe Biden is going to win, and he’s going to win big. And the main reason for this is that 2020 is nothing like 2016. It’s really that simple. Granted, the media, and particularly pundits, are all acting like John Casey, being non-committal, not overly optimistic, superstitious to a fault, and less than specific about what will happen on November 3.
And this waffling, I suspect is due to several reasons. It’s no secret that most of the media, including broadcasters, journalists, special contributors, expert analysts and everyone else with a brain, wants Donald Trump to lose so that democracy wins; therefore, to admit that Biden will win big, or say that Trump has no chance does two things. It discourages more Democrats from voting since people will assume Biden will win anyway, and deplete ratings and click-throughs because who will turn into watch, or read about an election, if the result is a foregone conclusion?
This year is different. Joe Biden is no Hillary Clinton. Americans are less angry at how the system works and angrier about how the system isn’t working. Registered voters were turned off and tired in 2016. More people are energized and invested in the outcome of this race than perhaps ever before. The 2018 midterms were a blaring harbinger of things to come in 2020. Since millions participated in the 2017 Women’s March, the tide has risen instead of receded. George Floyd's killing jolted people into reckoning with racial injustice and their own racial insensitivity, and the latest incident in Philadelphia this week only reinforces strong sentiment that Black lives matter.
Trump was a novelty, and far from exposed in 2016. Now, he’s overexposed in crime and oversaturated in coverage. He hovered over Hillary in 2016, and annoyingly and constantly hovers over all of us today. Trump peddled lies in 2016, and at this point, he has created a thriving industry of dishonesty. We didn’t know what Trump’s taxes looked like in 2016. We know more than he does about them now, and that a $750 tax bill for a so-called billionaire is criminal.
The laws preventing more Black people from voting are equally criminal, and hampered turnout in 2016, and again in 2018. So far in early voting, Black people in 2020 are crawling through broken glass to make their voices heard. They see a racist-in-chief, white cops at their throats, and white legislatures in their way. They were reminded this week again of what the Trump administration thinks of them, when KKK grand wizard in training, Jared Kushner ignorantly said about Trump and Black people, “But he can't want them to be successful more than they want to be successful."
Black people, and Democrats in general are turning out in droves and in record numbers for early voting. At this writing, over 75 million have already voted. That is astonishing and more than half the number who voted in total in 2016. And you can be sure that those waiting in the two, four, and eight-hour lines (which by themselves are also criminal in a democracy) are not the 42 percent of voters that support Trump. Similarly, Democrats are walking on hot coals to ensure that their vote is counted. Even if that means risking their health and exposure to COVID-19.
If it was Comey in 2016. It’s COVID-19 in 2020.
The pandemic has been more profound and had more unseen dreadful consequences than anyone imagined. The discovery of Anthony Weiner’s computer in late October 2016 seems so trite compared to Trump’s dismissal of COVID-19 in 2020 and the current rising infection rates. The pandemic has slammed the world, crippled the U.S., and will choke a presidency, since the presidency failed to choke a pandemic.
In this last week before the election, how obtuse and tone-deaf can a presidential ticket be? Mike Pence’s staff is enduring an outbreak of the virus; his chief of staff and his body man, both who work closely with the VP, are infected. Yet Pence says, against CDC regulations, that he is an “essential employee,” and canvasses the country dropping the virus everywhere he goes. We all know how horrifically he handled HIV as governor of Indiana. Should we be surprised?
Trump’s chief of staff says, “…you can’t control the virus.” What message does that send to voters, in the waning days of the election, if you are not even going to try? Or care? Or ever cared? The White House brazenly staged another event for Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation Monday night, as if they didn’t learn their lesson from the super-spreader event they created the first time they paraded her out. How unaware and selfish does that look? It’s as if Trump is trying to use the virus to sicken and kill his campaign. By not even trying to tame the virus, Trump and Pence have put us in ruins, and America knows that. And, unfortunately, we will pay the price, and so will Trump.
When the economy is bad, the president is blamed. When the jobless rate runs high, the president is blamed. When there is a crisis facing the country that leads to chaos, the president is blamed. When there is racial unrest, the president is blamed. The blame blanketing Trump is lethally smothering. And an ironic one. Trump’s political death can be immediately tied to the suffocating death of nearly 230,000 Americans. We’ve never seen a presidential election during a pandemic in our lifetime. Suffice to say that if voters are furious at how COVID-19 has been handled — more than 60 percent say the government is making it worse — the president will be blamed.
Out-funded, out-flanked, out-smarted, out-paced, out-polled, out-messaged, out-debated, Trump is so far out, and outdated, that to win would truly be out of this world, out of a horror movie, and so far out of reality that it could only happen if the Russains outwardly rig the election.
If 2016 was about "Crooked Hillary," 2020 is about Criminal Trump.
In the week prior to the 2016 election, the polling showed a weak lead for Clinton, and by that, I mean that voters told pollsters half-heartedly that they were supporting the former Secretary of State. Then, when her email snafus popped-up again days before the election, it was just enough for them to say, “Enough of the Clintons, let’s give Trump a try.” As he said at the time, “What have you got to lose?“ Plenty it seems — jobs, houses, food, decency, equality, health and lives. Voters won’t be making a last-minute switch to Trump this time. The news about his own crimes, even this week's story about taxpayers paying for luxuries at Mar-a-Lago, have voters appalled and make Clinton's emails look like child's play. This year, it's "Enough of the Trumps," i.e. Donald, Donald, Jr. Ivanka and Jared.
One of the other things polling doesn’t pick up is the influence of the younger generation, and the massive early voting thus far has revealed an uptick in first -time voters among college students. To help support this fact is the “TikTok trick” that millions of young people pulled on Trump prior to his failed Tulsa rally, deviously signing up for the rally by the hundreds of thousands and embarrassing the campaign. There is an undercurrent of newer voices among the electorate who despise everything Trump stands for. I see it in the students in the college courses I’ve taught over the last two years. Young people are demanding a voice, and early election statistics prove they are screaming.
Women too, are not sitting still this time; the chauvinist-in-chief has been sowing discord with women for three and half years. Tired of being called nasty, and looked upon as suffering 1950s suburban housewives — Trump said in Wisconsin on Tuesday that he was going to get their husbands' jobs back — women will indeed be nasty to Trump in 2020.
And by far the most important voting block outside of women and African-Americans are those 65 and older. They always vote. They helped Trump to victory in 2016 but have been peeling away from him steadily over this year, primarily because of his ineptitude about the virus. They are the ones who are mostly dying by his white flag surrender to the pandemic. And also — and this is because older voters follow the issues more closely — they know that Trump’s support for a payroll tax cut threatens to bankrupt Social Security. Taking away their lives and their money is enough for most of them to move toward Biden.
The only predominant demographic that still supports Trump is white men, mostly consisting of those with non-college degrees. While their support may (and that's a big if) narrow the margin of victory for Biden in swing states, it won’t be enough to put Trump over the top. And, at this point, Biden is starting to surpass Trump on the only other advantage he has had over Biden in the polls, and that is who will handle the economy better. Biden has now moved ahead on the economy, and he is trouncing Trump in areas that generally determine the winner of presidential elections, likeability, empathy, and honesty.
Finally, there are fed-up Republicans and a dizzying array of Republican groups, national security advisors, Bush administration officials, Republican Voters Against Trump, the Lincoln Project, former Trump administration officials, conservative organizations and newspapers, and on and on who are joining team Biden. Republicans are piling on, and while Trump enjoys the support of a large majority of Republican voters, losing 5-10 percent of them would doom his campaign. And that’s what’s happening. They are peeling away, just enough of them, for Biden.
There is not enough incentive now for Republicans to vote in 2020. Senate Republicans overplayed their own with the Coney-Barrett nomination. If they had waited until after the election, more conservatives would have voted to ensure that she was confirmed. As it stands now, conservatives have a super-majority on the Supreme Court, and 300 additional right-wing judges on lower courts. At the detriment to all of us, their goal of owning the courts has been reached, and secretly embarrassed by Trump, Christian conservatives will sit this election out.
There is just so much in Biden’s favor that an election loss for him would be the most stunning in presidential history. All of these positive metrics indicate that another blue tsunami, similar to the 2018 midterms, is ready to wash over Republicans again, enabling Democrats to win back the Senate. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will edge Senator Cory Gardner in that state. Susan Collins will be bested by Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. Former astronaut and husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly will win over Senator Martha McSally in Arizona.
And there’s more. Cal Cunningham will edge current North Carolina Republican senator Thom Tillis. Democratic candidate Theresa Greenfield will thwart current Iowa Senator and Trump bootlicker Joni Ernst. And here’s what will be the biggest news out of the Senate races: the Democrats will eventually, because one of the races is complicated, pick up both Senate seats in Georgia, which will finally turn the state blue for good.
Will we be celebrating in the streets when Trump loses? Most likely we shouldn’t. We will be left not with a lame duck president for nearly three months, but rather a wild or a dead one. What Trump will do after November 3 is harder to predict than what will happen with the election.
Trump hates to lose. So, what does that mean? Will he put his tail between his legs, go to Mar-a-Lago, and do absolutely nothing except golf and tweet? Having been humiliated, will Senate Republicans tell Speaker Pelosi, let’s impeach him now before he can harm us further? Will he resign, pardon himself and claim, “Who needs this job!” Will he try to retaliate against everyone who has crossed him?
Trump has realized he was going to lose for a while now since the polls have remained solid and consistent in Biden’s favor for the last few months. Therefore, he must have a plan? No, because Trump is impulsive. There is no plan. How will Trump get his revenge? He may have already started.
In the end, it will be Trump’s beloved base — that he despises privately — that will have let him down. He may lock himself in the White House and tell his base to fight back. To react. To stand back and stand ready. To liberate. But they won’t be able to. They, and by extension, the rest of us, will be too sick.
Minnesota is starting to see an outbreak of virus cases related to Trump rallies held in late September. And, in the weeks after the election, you will see outbreaks soar from more of those egomaniacal, harmful, and unsafe super-spreader rallies that were held in Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio, Iowa, and everywhere else he has landed his poison plane. What used to be Airforce One, now Airborne Spread. Skyrocketing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 will be Trump’s revengeful gift to his base and to all of us. He beat the virus. And we are losing to it, and that will be his way of claiming victory.
We may get rid of Trump on November 3, but the destruction he caused this country, and the ruin he has created will leave us all in tatters for quite some time. Tuesday night, Trump left hundreds of his supporters in Omaha, Neb., waiting for hours, late at night in the dark, freezing cold and bone-chilling rain. He left them to suffer. It's a metaphor for how he will leave us.
John Casey is editor at large at The Advocate.