(Update 12/27: Many thanks again to Batocchio for promoting this blog through both Crooks&Liars as well as his Vagabond Scholar site, where he hosts the annual Jon Swift Memorial Annual Roundup. Happy New Year to you all!)
I have my concerns about polling, I know the numbers may look good but they're not the actual voting that has to take place on November 3 (and I should be working on my Florida Ballot coverage this weekend because Early Voting is in ONE week).
But damn, the current numbers for Joe Biden beating the tar out of trump (now in double-digits!) are so enticing to look at.
|From FiveThirtyEight.com on October 9 2020|
And if we go by 538's state-by-state projections, we're looking at this for the November results:
Now 538 is not exact, nobody can predict the future, anything can happen in the next three weeks, etc. But the trends do not favor trump, all the trends are favoring Biden. So we gotta start thinking about what the world is going to look like the day after November 3, 2020.
For starters, it's going to be as chaotic as hell.
We've known for months now that trump will attempt to subvert, block, and deny the vote-counting in key battleground states to throw their Electoral College votes into a bind. He's primarily looking to do that by claiming massive voter fraud through the mail-in ballots, even without evidence that such fraud can happen (hint, it doesn't).
The point of this would be to convince the state legislatures in those states - especially the ones controlled by Republicans - to nullify the popular vote and substitute their Electors instead. And if they can't do that, have the legislatures deny any Electors at all to where nobody clears the 270 EV needed to win. And when the Democratic Party sues in those states to count the votes, force the lawsuits up to a Supreme Court packed with eager Republican justices willing to throw the election in favor of trump (this is coming from trump himself). And even if that all doesn't work out, as long as they can prevent Biden getting over the 270 hurdle they can force the election to the House of Representatives where the GOP hopes to control enough DELEGATES (each state gets one vote, not each Representative) to give trump the "win" anyway.
The good news is, this isn't all guaranteed to go trump's way. There are not a lot of states in play that trump can obstruct/deny the popular vote against him: right now that would be Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, maybe Wisconsin, Arizona. and/or Pennsylvania. If Georgia's popular vote goes against trump, then throw them into the mix. But that's a lot of states at play, and trump would have to steal all of them to pull his con game off.
trump would have to ensure the state legislatures play the game to his/their advantage. Problem is, not everybody votes a straight party ticket down the entire ballot. Not everyone voting against trump will also vote against the local Republican candidates on the ticket. So if they try to go out of their way to toss anti-trump votes as invalid, the local Representatives run the risk of tossing votes THEY need. So they may not be positioned to do that for trump. Those local Representatives also have to live with the consequences of denying the voters their say. If the state legislature refuses to certify a Biden victory where a clear majority - say Biden wins Georgia with 51 percent to trump's 44, a six-point difference - is in place, there is going to be a lot of outrage and anger. All the police curfews and beat-downs in the world would not be enough to curtail the non-stop protests that would overwhelm the state capitals from that point on.
So trump's game can only work if the votes are too close to call, or within margin of error to where people can't be expected to protest (although the rage will be there, trust me). Which is where the voter turnout is a must for Democrats: And there's a lot of evidence the turnout for 2020 is going to be 8 to 15 percent higher than 2016. And if the turnout is similar to the midterms in 2018, it benefits the Democratic Party, meaning good news for Biden.
So say we get past November 3 with Biden getting clear majority leads in most Blue and battleground states to where trump can't claim victory (he'll try, but nobody but his rabid base will believe him). Say we go through November and December with trump trying all the legal - and illegal - stunts he and his cronies can think of (and some of the illegal things trump could try would throw the country into immediate civil war. My God, people war-gamed this shit so thoroughly there's a Wiki page for it!). We get through all of that and Biden still gets about 52-54 percent of the popular and 352 Electoral Votes, clearly winning the Presidency.
trump and other Republicans and especially a lot in the Far Right media still will never accept it.
That's where the next worry begins: What trump would do to burn everything down as he exits the Oval Office.
If trump and the Republicans can't rule - by minority power - they will certainly try to ruin, from petty acts of sabotage through intentional destruction of documents and evidence to hide any criminal mischief that happened in trump's administration. trump is facing and will face lawsuits and criminal charges the second that Presidential Immunity no longer applies to him, and he and his handlers will try to destroy every piece of evidence they can - however they can get the Justice Department to clean up for him - to avoid a slam dunk case against him.
trump will definitely do everything in his power to ruin the economy however he can, through massive increase of his tariffs that we've already seen cause damage to our own. He could well attempt Executive Orders to gut things like Social Security and Medicare in ways that would take months for a Biden administration to repair.
I even dread some of the worst things trump could do as he gets pushed out the door: Create chaos on the international stage by violating our treaties, shredding diplomatic norms he hasn't yet touched, and probably even trigger a war or two - likely Iran, if you watch what Pompeo is doing - that could tie up Biden for weeks after the inauguration.
(Also: I dunno if anybody else has been talking about it, but one thing trump could do if forced out of office would be to remove the United States from NATO. It would be a boon to trump's idol Putin, it would cause massive foreign policy chaos here at home, and if he pulls it off - depending on the circumstances with the Senate - there might not be a way for Biden to rejoin that alliance)
(Also Also: One of the worst things I can imagine trump doing if he's forced out is literally burning everything down as he leaves. I'm talking arson from the White House to every other government building he could bust out. I have had honest-to-God nightmares since January, the ones I can remember waking up from going "Shit, he WOULD do that wouldn't he, like the mob boss he is...")
And none of that is covering the most likely response to a Biden victory: the likelihood trump will call on his White Supremacist foot soldiers to "Stand Up" and go on bloody warpaths. Those wingnuts are triggered and ready to roll, some of them are already jumping the gun.
Still, with all the chaos we're facing, we need to consider the possibility Biden will win the Presidency. What will he face as he takes the Oath of Office in 2021?
We already know the crises facing this nation: A pandemic that needs curtailing and curing; A healthcare system still in need of upgrade and protection from Far Right lawsuits trying to gut what we already have; A growing climate change disaster in need of immediate attention; Massive federal budget deficits based mostly on reckless Republican tax cuts for the super-rich; Genuine infrastructure projects; The need for better wages for part-time and full-time workers; A housing crisis alongside a returning banking crisis that threatens to echo the damage done in 2007-08. There's a lot of shit to handle.
And any response from Biden to all that depends on if Democrats have control of BOTH Houses of Congress. The U.S. House is currently Democratic - and there is no sign, even WITH trump's threats to cheat, that the Republicans can claim the House - but the Senate is currently Republican and under the control of "Moscow" Mitch McConnell. Currently, the odds favor the Democrats flipping about five states - Maine, Colorado, Arizona, maybe Iowa, maybe Montana - while the Republicans have a shot at one - maybe Alabama - meaning the Democrats could win the Senate 51-49 (there could be Democratic wins in South Carolina (!), Texas (!), maybe one seat in Georgia (!), and maybe Mississippi (!!!), so there's a lot at play here).
However, if the Republicans retain control of the Senate (and McConnell stays as Majority Leader), you can forget about anything Biden could try to implement. McConnell is a master obstructionist, having denied Obama most of Obama's agenda in order to keep Republican minority rule intact from 2009 onward. McConnell will be in position to block any attempts to repair the damage trump has done to the political landscape, and McConnell will definitely do everything in his power to stop Biden from realigning the judicial system that McConnell has spent the last four years filling with Federalist Society, Far Right judges.
Remember how McConnell denied Obama the right to nominate Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by Scalia's death claiming it was an election year (and please note the hypocrisy when Mitch rushed to fill the vacancy for Ginsburg's seat while the seat was still warm)? If he's still Majority Leader in 2021, we can expect McConnell to deny Biden his right to nominate ANYONE to any Senate-approved position (please note, the GOP threatened to do that to Hillary). McConnell could prevent Biden from filling Cabinet positions needed to oversee rebuilding of agencies either raided by trump and his cronies or agencies left to rot by those cronies' mismanagement. It would fulfill the Republican dogma of "Government is BAD" by keeping the Executive branch understaffed, unmanaged, unable to serve the public trust.
One can hope that Biden - with the zeal of bipartisanship he carries with him - could appeal to his colleagues in the Senate to allow him at least the right to staff the Executive Branch as he needs. But Biden needs to remember he has to give his own Democratic Party the chance to fill those roles to ensure a Progressive-leaning agenda in the first place (If Biden caves to McConnell and fills too many administrative and judicial positions with Republican-leaning centrists, the Democrats will implode).
A better future path to Bidenworld would require not only Biden winning the Electoral College, but also entering into 2021 with a Democratic majority in Congress (with the likelihood any McConnell/GOP attempt to gridlock the Senate with Cloture/Filibustering negated with removal of the Filibuster rules).
That would usher in a quick period of action: Democrats taking care of the immediate crises - fixing the nation's pandemic response and overseeing a healthy win against COVID-19 - and setting up the agendas they have to get the economy regaining jobs at better wages, fighting climate change, et al.
The thing about a Biden Presidency all depends on how his Passive-Positive Congenial nature will engage with the needs of the Democratic Party as well as the needs of the United States. One of the boons of Passive-Positives is the open way they approach their job: Appeals to friendship, appeals to shared values, an overall appeal to our better angels. In a way, Pass-Positives are great at building and maintaining "The Big Tent" where a multitude of party factions can gel and get along.
Whether this means the Passive-Positive temperament will lead to effective leadership choices depends on how Biden handles the immediacy of the crises confronting him. One thing he has already done is absorb the agendas and plans of other Democratic figures - Warren's bold ideas, Harris' incentive to work hard towards reforms - that can well carry into his administration. Much in the way that Reagan entered his Presidency to fulfill some of the ambitions of the Goldwater/Far Right conservatism of the Republican Party (Reagan's malleable leadership ended up curtailing some of that Far Right agenda, you'd be amazed how many Far Right pundits curse Reagan's name today), Biden could enter his administration seeking to fulfill some of the ambitions of the Far Left progressivism (especially on climate change and employment/wages).
There's still a lot of factors at play. There's still too much risk out there regarding trump's efforts to sabotage the election this November.
We can war-game out 2020 as much as we want. But what we really need to do is commit to the one act we CAN commit: VOTE. We need to vote and vote Democratic across the board, we need to get the vote out for the 2020 Blue Wave. We need to send trump out the door and into a New York State criminal docket. We need to vote for every Democratic candidate for the Senate to kick McConnell out of power and into the deepest pit of Hell he deserves.
Vote for your lives, America, this 2020. And for the LOVE OF GOD, VOTE BIDEN. For the LOVE OF YOUR FAMILIES AND GRANDPARENTS AND CHILDREN, Don't vote for trump or McConnell or for any Republican misrule.