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Commentary: Election Week


In case last week was a bit of a blur, here is a log of the week after the election.

Wednesday, November 4: There’s an old Clint Eastwood movie named The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  That describes the election for Democrats.

The Good (as of Wednesday) – For the Big Prize Biden appears to have a clear, though certain to be litigated, path to 270 electoral Votes.  Trump announced last night that he had won and claimed vote fraud.  The media erupted in condemnation.  So far no major Republican politician had come to Trump’s defense.  Election Day was calm around the country, mercifully.

The Bad – Democrats may have netted only one Senate seat.  They had thought three were in the bag, with hopes for more.  And they may have lost a dozen seats in the House.  And they didn’t do well with state legislatures, which do redistricting next year.

The Ugly – Democrats had a brutal election in Missouri.  They got swept again for statewide offices, Nicole Galloway got trounced for governor, Judy Baker did not unseat Caleb Rowden for state senate, there were few if any gains in the state legislature, and the Democrat lost the marquee U.S. House race in St. Louis.  Trump carried the state by almost as big a margin as in 2016.

Next up: Thursday, November 5: Still awaiting results in five states.  Trump supporters are calling for the vote count to stop in states where he’s ahead, but to continue in states where he’s behind.

Election Day was Incumbent Day locally, as nearly every incumbent won comfortably.  The only exception was Fred Parry, who lost his county commission seat.

Now onto Friday, November 6: Biden has taken the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia.  No one is calling it nationally yet.  I’m thinking when it’s settled Biden will have 306 Electoral Votes.  I thought he would also win Florida and Iowa, which would have given him the 340 I predicted.

Trump is outraging his opponents and thrilling his supporters with his totally-predictable and baseless claims of fraud.  Republicans are taking sides, and the Trump people are taking names.  Rush Limbaugh just conceded the election to Biden.  That’s a big deal.

Saturday, November 7 ushers in an answer: Pennsylvania is called for Biden, who now has the 270 for the majority.  Lots of celebrating around the country.  Biden comes from the smallest state ever to elect a native son as president.

And Sunday, November 8: Trump followed Biden’s victory speech with – silence.  This is classic, of course: “What will he do?”  “When will he do it?” keeps him, and not Biden, central to the media narrative. 

And Monday, November 9: Trump has not conceded and may never formally concede.   It won’t matter -- Biden will be inaugurated president on January 20, period – but yet another norm will have been shattered.

Had Democrats won big nationally, like Republicans did in 1994, there would be some party switching, especially at the state legislative level.  But they didn’t, so Democrats will have to earn their majorities at the state level the old-fashioned way.

America is evenly and bitterly divided politically.  Voters definitely did not repudiate the Republican Party and almost did not repudiate Trump.  Interesting times ahead.

Dr. Terry Smith is a Political Science Professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics.