We have a President!

Photo of Joe Biden in front of a flag and campaign sign
President-Elect Joseph R. Biden

2:05 PM ET: Congratulations to Joe Biden on being elected the 46th President of the United States!

I know that many of us wished the decision could have been announced much sooner, but I am glad we took the time to make sure we got it right. In a Democracy, the people choose their leaders according to established rules , no exceptions.

Now that we know who the President is, I can finally share some insights into the 2020 U.S. federal elections.

3:23 PM ET: On Election Night, it appeared that Trump had opened a big lead, and that Biden slowly cut into the lead in multiple states before being declared the winner this morning. That is completely false.

In reality, the difference is solely due to the fact that it takes some time to count ballots. For example, the earliest projections on Tuesday night had Trump leading the vote in Rhode Island, causing me to literally shout “WTFRI” at my TV. But when it was finallly announced that Biden won 59 percent of votes in Rhode Island, it was because Biden had ALWAYS won 59 percent of votes in Rhode Island. Every one of those votes was cast on or before Election Day.

3:50 PM ET: When I looked at the preliminary map on Wednesday morning, and it looked like the entire race came down to a few thousand votes in Nevada, I was scared. My biggest fear was that a close election would lead to a long and rancorous legal battle that would make Bush v Gore look like a pillow fight, and that Trump would refuse to leave. And the difference is that in 2000, I had faith that the Supreme Court was a nonpartisan body that could make a decision in the best interests of the country. In 2020, I no longer believe that.

An astronaut with an American flag patch looks at a preliminary map of the election, while an astronaut with a Nevada flag patch points a gun at him. Caption: "Wait, it all comes down to... Nevada?"
Fortunately it also comes down to Pennsylvania and maybe Georgia

Fortunately, Biden also won Pennsylvania, was confirmed by a wider margin in Arizona, and seems more likely than not to also win Georgia. Those are important because it means that Trump’s lawyers would have to come up with four separate strategies for challenging the election, one for each state. When Trump realizes how much work that will be, he will do what he always does: give up.

I’m not even going to address the content of Trump’s accusations of voter fraud. There is absolutely no evidence of any large-scale irregularities in any election in any state anywhere. I will say that of the people I know who supported Trump, most have graciously accepted the result and have encouraged Trump to do the same. Unfortunately some have not, and their reasoning seems to be “Trump lost, so the election could not possibly have been fair.” I heard the same from a very small number of Clinton supporters in 2016, and they were wrong also. Both-sides-ism is stupid, but I am willing to say “both sides are wrong” on those occasions when both sides actually were wrong.

5:53 PM ET: Of course, the Presidential election wasn’t the only game in town on and after Tuesday, and for the Congressional elections, Republicans have reason to be pleased. With four Senate seats yet to be decided, Republicans have lost two (Colorado and Arizona) and gained one (Alabama). Votes are still being counted in North Carolina and Alaska, but the Republican incumbents are nearly certain to win there. That leaves the Senate evenly split at 48-48, with two seats in Georgia remaining. Because of course they do, Georgia has a bizarre system where if no one receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates go to a runoff election on January 5, 2021.

If Democratic candidates David Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win those runoffs, they would become the two U.S. Senators from Georgia, the Senate would be evenly split 50-50, and the Democratic Party would control the Senate thanks to a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. That is… unlikely.

In the House of Representatives, the news for the Democratic Party is both better and worse. With votes still being counted for 26 seats, the current distribution is Democratic 214, Republican 195. The good news is that they will almost certainly maintain their majority. The bad news is that they massively underperformed expectations. They were expected to gain about 5 seats; instead it looks like they will likely lose about 5 seats.

Even with a fairly decisive electoral and popular vote win for President-Elect Biden, the losses in Congress will make it difficult for the Democratic Party to claim a legislative mandate. And the dream of expanding the Supreme Court is most certainly dead.

Check back here throughout the day, and beyond, for thoughts.

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