With Malice toward None and Charity for All” Lincoln’s important words for our divided country.

As I ponder our divided country, I find great encouragement in Abraham Lincoln’s words at the end of the Civil War, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God fives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

As I write this blog, the election has not yet been called. According to most news organizations, Donald Trump has won 214 electors (and if you include North Carolina and Alaska, this rises to 232) whereas Joe Biden has garnered 253 electors (Fox News has called Arizona in Biden´s favor, raising the number of his electors to 264. Other networks have not yet called this race). Georgia, where Biden is leading by a very slim margin, is headed for a recount. So, it comes down to Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Nevada where Biden is leading and will probably win. Therefore, unless there are some lawsuits that dramatically change the current trends, Joe Biden will become our next president with 50.5% of the national vote and more than the necessary 270 electors in the Electoral College.

What do we know?

  • The control of the Senate is still up in the air. Georgia requires that to win, a Senate candidate must obtain 50% of the vote plus 1. In both Senate races, no candidate won the necessary majority of votes. Therefore, there will be two run off elections in early January. If Democrats were to win both races (a big IF), the Democrats would have control of the Senate.
  • In the House of Representatives elections, the Republicans made significant gains and picked up seats.  Not all of the House races have been called, but the Democrats will have a smaller majority than they have enjoyed for the last two years. Nancy Pelosi will probably continue as the leader of the House.
  • President Trump and his lawyers are challenging the results in some of the states. Although the president has the right to raise the challenges, most of them have not been deemed valid by the respective courts. Some of the states, like Georgia, will have recounts, but these are unlikely to overturn the current tentative results.
  • This election shows the power of women…as voters and as candidates. Twelve of the Republican gains in the House were won by women candidates. Biden’s presidency was largely due to the votes of women in the cities and in the suburbs.

What should we do?

  • We should all express our gratitude to the election workers (Republicans, Democrats, and independents) who tirelessly have verified the ballots, sorted them, run them through the counting machines, uploaded the results and/or have been observers to guarantee the fairness and accuracy of the election process.
  • If Biden ends up winning, Democrats should not gloat nor take revenge. They should be gracious and seek ways to obtain bi-partisan solutions to our difficult challenges. If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, Biden and Senator McConnell will have to work together on the approval of Cabinet members, the pandemic relief bill and other important legislation.
  • If Trump loses, he should be gracious in defeat. He should make a conciliatory concession speech and aid in the transition. It is important that Republican leaders encourage him to acknowledge the results.

Upcoming Blogs

Some of the topics I will address in upcoming blogs are:

  • Necessary changes in the Electoral College
  • Why Republicans lost the presidency but won many Congressional races
  • The increasing significance and changing nature of the Latino vote
  • The future of the Republican party, with or without Trump
  • Significant steps to unite our divided country
  • Why the pre-election polls were partially right, but also wrong on important races

The Coronavirus and the Election Results

The coronavirus is affecting every area of life, including the election this fall in the United States. Let’s anticipate some of those effects so that we aren’t surprised on the evening of Tuesday, November 3rd. Here are some of the changes we can expect.

  • There will be many more mail ballots than normal. Due to the virus, many people are rightly limiting their presence in public gatherings. This phenomenon does not affect Republicans and Democrats equally. Surveys suggest that about 70% of Republicans will vote in person (and 30% of Republicans will mail in their ballots). It is expected that about 40% of Democrats will vote in person at the voting sites (the remaining 60% of Democrats will mail in their ballots).
  • This will affect the counting of the votes and, therefore, the reporting of the votes on the evening of November 3rd. The counting of mailed in ballots varies from state to state. Some states begin counting mail in ballots as they come in (on days before election day), some do not even begin counting these votes until after the polls are closed on election day. Most states require that mailed votes must be postmarked by election day. They vary on how many days after election day they permit for the mailed ballots to be delivered by the postal service.
  • Scenario 1 / a “purple” precinct where they are exactly 100 voters who will vote for Trump and 100 voters who will vote for Biden. If on election day this precinct counts only the in-person votes and waits to count the mailed in votes in the following days, the early reporting on November 3rd will give an inaccurate picture. The early reporting that evening could show 70 votes for Trump and 40 for Biden, a huge victory for Trump. Nevertheless, in the following days, Biden’s numbers catch up and become exactly equal to Trump’s, 100 to 100. There is no evidence of fraud, but one party *feels* that cheating has taken place.
  • Scenario 2 / a “slightly blue” precinct in a swing state likes Pennsylvania where 105 of the 200 voters plan on voting for Biden and the other 95 voters will vote for Trump. The in-person results on election night show 44 votes for Biden (40% x 110) and 63 votes for Trump (70% x 90), a strong and significant win for Trump. As the days go by and the mailed-in ballots begin to be tallied, Biden catches up and eventually wins 110 to 90. Cries of fraud erupt, but here again there is no evidence of any kind of cheating.
  • We have become accustomed to ¨exit polls¨ which are surveys of voters after they have already cast their ballot at the voting place. By definition, these do not take into consideration voters who mail in their ballots, so exit polls will be skewed in favor of Trump. The true vote totals won’t be known until the mail in ballots are counted in the following days.

THEREFORE, We should not expect any final votes on the evening of November 3rd, because many mailed in ballots will not be tallied until the following days. Unless it is a landside victory obvious to all, no presidential candidate should claim a win on election night. A premature claim to victory could easily lead to violence if supporters whose candidate “won” on election night ends up losing as the mailed in votes are counted. Let sound reasoning prevail among us!