Election result: the night after

The Sun

Whatever your personal politics, I think we can all agree that that was one hell of an election night!

The stunning victory of President Trump in storming the key swing state in Florida in the early hours indicated that we were about to see a repeat of 2016. On the betting markets, the probability of a Trump victory soared to nearly 80% and the Chinese yuan currency started to crash.

Ohio, another key swing state, where mainstream polls had shown for months that Trump was tied with Biden, Trump smashed it with an eventual lead of 8%. At that point it was probably Peak Trump, because after that, the race got tighter and tighter.

Georgia and North Carolina, both critical seats for the GOP to win, remain to close to call, although both are likely to end up in the Trump camp once all the votes are counted. Arizona, which was always going to be a tight race, surprised me by going for Biden. I really thought that this election cycle it would have stayed in the Red camp.

But it was the Rust Belt that was always key to this election. In my last blog post, I wrote that I was nervous about the Rust Belt, given the very tight polling coming out of those key states, even among the outlier pollsters I followed. That was why I kept my probabilistic forecast of Trump winning at only 60%. It was also a key factor why I kept my betting deposits to a minimum.

In the end, my forecast that Trump would just edge Biden in these battlefield states looks likely to be proved wrong (PA and Michigan remain to be called).

On the plus side I did successfully anticipate the surge of support for Trump among blue collar minority voters, particularly in places in Florida, and his rural base who came out in large numbers for Trump and GOP candidates in the Senate and House.

On the negative side, I had underestimated the chances of strong turnout among key demographic groups who were tired of the Trump reality show and shocked by his poor handling of the Covid crisis. These voters voted for Biden in sufficient numbers to overcome Trump’s fired up base in those battlefield states.

The Senate is looking likely to remain a majority for the GOP which, if true, will be a crushing blow to the Democrats. Without a majority in the Senate their agenda will be crippled from Inauguration day. For those of my readership who are Trump supporters and fear a Biden presidency, that reality – assuming the GOP do keep their majority – should reassure you in the coming years.

So, there was no Blue Wave and a Biden electoral college landslide.

 But also, no Red Wave and a comfortable victory in the electoral college as forecast by me.

Clearly, I got it wrong and I own that. But the mainstream pollsters and pundits forecasting a Blue Wave were also wrong as well.

For me, the vote by the American people seems to be “none of the above”. Joe Biden becomes president but without controlling the Congress and unable to get his policies and agenda through Washington D.C.

Although the popular vote will go to Biden, his electoral college vote win will be below 300, not a resounding mandate to end Trumpism or reshape America in a radically different direction in the 2020’s.

A Biden presidency will be an interregnum, a slowing down of those long-term trends that had accelerated under the disruptive and populist Trump era.

On a personal note, whilst I have doubts about Biden’s capacity to do the job, he seems like a decent enough guy and on the international stage will do some good. I suspect that in foreign affairs, for all the change in optics and style, the substance will not be materially different.

America will continue to pursue its new Cold War against China which has emerged as a bipartisan consensus under the Trump administration. The new Biden administration will also push the EU to get tougher on China, spend more on their militaries and take greater responsibility for their own backyard (good luck with that!).

A Joe Biden presidency will engage more with multilateral institutions like the WHO and WTO, something that is a net benefit in my opinion, and do more on dealing with climate change. I also think that Biden, who was the most sceptical of the military wars during the Obama administration, will also quietly continue Trump’s diplomacy in the Middle East and efforts to withdraw troops from the quagmires of Afghanistan and Syria.

I may be wrong, but Biden does not come across as a warmonger to me.

On domestic policy, the fact that the Democrats will only narrowly win the presidency, and likely lose their bid to take back the Senate, will highlight that they can’t lurch to the Left. To get those blue-collar voters of all races back they will need to do what Sir Kier Starmer is trying with Labour in the UK, and reach out to those patriotic, small c conservative voters rather than pandering to their progressive base.

So, whilst you may see some progress in areas like infrastructure, I’m sceptical that you see a big shift in domestic politics in the coming 4 years.

As for the Republican Party, I imagine that Donald Trump will retire to his media empire but remain a key influence within the GOP. If the GOP are smart, they will build on what Trump has succeeded but find a candidate who is more polished, less divisive and better able to reach out white Middle America. They also should continue to focusing on those blue-collar issues (immigration controls, security, law and order etc) that have brought in African-American and Hispanic demographics who used to vote Democratic.

Election result: the night after

6 thoughts on “Election result: the night after

  1. lookingforintelligentdisagreement says:

    Thanks for your reasoned response. Democrats still have a whiff of a chance to take the Senate if there is a mix of Collins still losing an IRV vote and Dems winning Georgia runoffs, but that is unlikely. In any case, those Georgia runoffs are likely to be hot items for the next two months. I would add that Republicans and Trump supporters are hardly in love with Collins. If they aren’t careful, she may switch parties. She would be quite welcomed by Democrats, even though progs would be gritting their teeth about it.

    Clearly the mainstream polls were wrong, but I still don’t see evidence that they missed a hidden group of Trump supporters, shy or not. At the moment, Trump’s national vote total seems to be about the same as in 2016. The huge turnout that so many on both sides expected failed to materialize and that means people that the pollsters thought would vote for Biden just didn’t show up. There are a number of possible reasons for that, I won’t speculate on that now.

    On the margins I don’t know if flips in Wisc and Mich were due more to urban or suburban voters – the difference matters if the answer is not both. And even if Trump holds on to Georgia, with most of the remaining vote in Metro Atlanta, it will be very close.

    Lastly I have a hard time seeing DT retire to the golf course or anywhere else. I have this hunch that if and when it becomes clear that he has lost, he will just declare his candidacy for 2024. Not sure he will carry through and run, but for a variety of reasons it makes sense in the short run. We will see.

  2. DJT will be nearly 80 if he ran in 2024! I know the man has the energy of a 50 year old, but even so, that strikes me as unlikely. He will transition into a elder statesman of populist Republican politics in the years to come.

  3. LOOKINGFORINTELLIGENTDISAGREEMENT says:

    “Former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that he “absolutely” expects President Trump to run again in 2024 if he loses his current reelection bid.

    Mulaney, who serves as special envoy for Northern Ireland, made the prediction while participating in a webinar hosted by the Dublin think tank Institute for International and European Affairs.

    “I would absolutely expect the president to stay involved in politics and would absolutely put him on the shortlist of people who are likely to run in 2024,” Mulvaney said, according to The Irish Times.”

    1. Look, even if Trump did seriously run in 2024 I don’t think he will win.

      The GOP would be looking for new leadership to run, and not against a failed one-term president, however popular he might be in elements of the base.

      I suggest that instead of thinking about Trump, look at DeSantis, as one of the likely candidates for the GOP run in 2024. Also Mike Pence will be in a strong position to run as well.

      Both are more mainstream Republican candidates who have succeeded in tapping into Trumpian populist politics and could do very well in 2024.

  4. lookingforintelligentdisagreement says:

    I don’t expect Trump to actually run, I expect him to declare or express interest in doing so. This allows to keep doing rallies, fundraising to pay his debts, and maintain personal control over the Republican Party. And eventually to anoint the 2024 nominee. DeSantis is certainly a strong candidate, but are you discounting Trump Jr or Tucker Carlson? Trump supporters have not generally gone for governors or politicians in the past. I think Tucker Carlson could be very well placed to run if he wants to.

    1. Trump Jr is an interesting one. But a bit skeptical that he would win. He certainly has a future in the GOP party.

      DeSantis and Pence would probably be front runners but who knows, how about that the African-American John James? If I was the GOP, I would go for a minority candidate who plays well with populist blue-collar America so relative unknown could also do very well.

      It’s too early to say but my gut says that Trump is now past it, whatever he might think. The GOP will be looking to the future.

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