Five Things, 11/24/20
And what five things am I thinking about today? Well!
Biden gets 80 million votes: According the Cook Political Report’s Popular Vote Tracker. That’s ten million more than Obama got in 2008 — the previous record for a winning presidential candidate — and currently about six million more votes than Trump got. Percentage-wise Biden’s above 51% while Trump’s at a hair above 47.1%. And this is apparently the best voter turnout in about a century, percentage-wise, with roughly two thirds of eligible voters having voted. As a fan of voting, this warms my heart.
Also, this is a reminder that this election, on the presidential level at least, was not actually anything approaching close: Biden won by a lot in the raw numbers of the popular vote, won by a sizable percentage of the popular vote, won most “battleground” states by wider margins than Trump won in 2016, and, of course, bested Trump in the electoral vote battle with quite a lot of room to spare. I understand it is in the nature of the Trump partisans to suggest this election was closer than it was, and I likewise understand it is in the nature of many Biden voters to want to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but, once again: This was not anything approaching close. Trump lost, big time, definitively, and unambiguously.
But the Democrats lost seats in the House and might not take the Senate! Some of you are likely saying. To which my response is: And? I don’t think the modern GOP should be held up as a model of good governance in just about any respect, but I will tell you this much, if everything were reversed, the Republicans would be screaming from the top of their lungs about their “mandate.” I don’t think it would be a bad thing for the Democrats to take a moment from hand-wringing and take a goddamn victory lap or two. And also to tell GOP-leaning people warning them against hubris to take a whole seat and enjoy sitting for a bit.
The market speaks: How does corporate America feel about the transition? It seems pretty happy about it — stocks got a jolt yesterday when Janet Yellen was announced as Biden’s pick for Treasury, and the Dow Jones got up over 30K for the first time in the wake of the official start of the transition. Trump tried to take credit for it, of course, because he would, wouldn’t he. But we know that the reason it’s up is he’s on the way out. In a larger sense, given the general tone of Biden’s staff and cabinet picks — deeply not-radical, and deeply experienced — it seems like there’s a general sense of relief that grown-ups are going to be in control again soon. Heck, even General Motors is cozying up to Biden, and you know what they say: What’s good for General Motors is good for America.
Yeah, okay, but what about those 74 million Trump voters? Well, what about them? They’re a third of the population, but hard as it may be to believe, not every one of those 74 million people who voted for Trump is a MAGA hat-wearing, Trump-flags-on-the-pickup-truck, switched-to-Newsmax-because-Fox-is-too-liberal sort. While there will always be a hard nugget of these sort of racist dickheads, not to be ignored or discounted, it’s also very likely that a substantial number of the people who voted for Trump will get back to their lives, now that Trump’s dimwitted coup attempt was shown to be farce. He’s a loser now, and there’s no path back from him being a loser. His invulnerability spell has worn off. And while that hard nugget of racist dickheads will continue to argue the election was stolen, I’m going to suggest that at this point most people know better, or will, soon enough.
Again: Not saying that suddenly a whole bunch of Trump voters are suddenly going to say they voted for Biden, or that the GOP, taken as a whole, is going to learn anything — the national GOP response to losing is never “maybe we should stop being racist authoritarians,” it’s always “maybe we weren’t racist and authoritarian enough.” But Trump’s luck has run out. He lost and in January there will be a whole bunch of lawsuits waiting for him, and eventually most of the egregious things he’s done in office will get laid out in public because the government won’t be his personal obstruction machine anymore. It’s not getting better for Trump, and I think that’s going to have an effect on a non-trivial number of his voters. Perhaps it’s already begun.
Then again… there’s that whole thing in Georgia at the moment where some always-Trumpers are threatening to boycott the Senate runoff elections, thus throwing the upper house to the Democrats, because they’re in a fit of pique about the GOP not being attentive to Trump’s tender feelings at the moment. While this is very much of a “don’t threaten me with a good time” scenario for anyone who’d love to see Mitch McConnell stuffed into a box and punted into the proverbial river, I myself am not going to get too excited about it. The runoff elections aren’t until January 5, and there’s a lot of time between now and then, and in that time, Trump’s power will be waning. Also, I think Republican voters in Georgia will be sufficiently motivated regardless of what a bunch of whiny losers are stomping their feet about.
If I had to guess, I would say ultimately this would-be boycott of the GOP isn’t going to have much of an influence. What’s more likely to have an influence is Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts, and the fact that Perdue and Loeffler, the GOP senate candidates, appear to be nakedly corrupt as shit. We’ll see!
Ugh, that was a lot of politics, let’s end with a cat picture. Yes, let’s!