I'm writing this note at about 11:45 PM and the election results are still up in the air. By the time you read this, we may know a bit more. Regardless, let's talk about what's happened so far and the path ahead.
You can leave your thoughts in the discussion thread linked below, starting now. I’ll be dropping by to participate in the discussion and answer your questions at 10:00 AM Eastern, for about an hour.
Your regularly scheduled newsletter will return on Thursday.
UPDATE (11:05 AM): Thanks everyone for participating. I’m hoping off the chat so I can begin thinking about what to write about next. Please continue the discussion. If you have thoughts about what I should cover in the next newsletter, please let me know!
Hello everyone! I thought I'd start with a few thoughts of my own.
1. To find out the outcome of an election, you have to count votes. That's what's going on now. It's frustrating that the result is still up in the air, but patience is key. Trump will try to make the process as unpleasant as possible. Stay focused.
2. The main reason people are surprised by last night's results is that the polls suggested a decisive Biden victory. This is why I don't really discuss horse race polls. And why I think the media spends too much time focused on them. I wrote the first ever edition of Popular Information on this topic: https://popular.info/p/1-ignore-the-polls
3. Trump argument that the vote counting should be halted will be difficult to maintain because if you stopped counting the votes now, Biden would win. This isn't a prediction but it's the current state of play.
4. One encouraging thing I've observed is that Republican elected officials are rejecting Trump's premature declaration of victory. And election officials are staying the course with the vote count. That's important.
5. Litigation has already started but its still unclear if the result will be close enough for it to play a decisive role. That's one thing I'll be monitoring closely.
We are failing an open-book test. I understand why someone may have voted for DJT in 2016. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. But we had nearly four years of instability, deception, corruption, and complete lack of basic decency upon which to draw when casting our ballots this year. I fully realize that votes are still being counted, but I'm struggling to understand how this is even close.
So much is at stake. And an alarming percentage of Americans appear to have turned a blind eye to real problems facing our nation. Instead, they're drawn to the President's claims of a strong economy and promises to resolve the very disorder he created.
It. Blows. My. Mind.
We're watching this from Asia and are kinda shocked that the race is so close. Was expecting a blue wave after four years of this monster. Gave you guys the benefit of the doubt in 2016, but this election has shown, this is America. Even if Biden wins narrowly, half of America holds Trumpist views, whether we or you'd like to admit. I don't know what the future holds, good luck my American friends.
Let's be clear. There is a portion of the population - specifically, Black and other POC voters - who have been telling us for decades that this is how America is. That we, as a nation, care more about protecting our wealth and our status than we do about actually pursuing equality. That issues involving race cannot be compartmentalized. That socialism is just fine when it's me but it's not fine when you benefit too (think farmers getting bailouts or the stimulus checks). This is deeply frustrating and disheartening, but it isn't a surprise.
And if this isn't clear evidence that a lot of people on the left live in echo chambers of news sources, I don't know what could be clearer. So many people on the left that I know - myself included, though probably to a lesser degree - convinced ourselves that this election would be a repudiation of what Trump stood for and his ignorance and the harm he's done. Even if Biden does end up winning, the election absolutely does not represent a repudiation of Trump and the GOP. At all.
Trump showed fundamentalist mainly white christians the power he would give them and they threw themselves at his feet. He showed racists and other bigots the legitimacy they craved and they lined up for him. He has exposed for everyone to see the worst of America and they lapped it up. Now he has followed through On his democracy destroying path to reelection. Declare victory prematurely, demand counting stop, tie it up in lawsuits that make their way to an SC he has packed. If that happens I fear our democracy is dead and we are a backwoods dictatorship. And the fact that so many Americans think this is ok, since they like what he says, is disheartening. Everyone who says our system of checks and balances will work it out, I don’t think factored in such a craven GOP.
Shocked to find out that half my country, who elected a black man for president twice (only 8 & 12 years ago) is okay with systemic racism & okay with almost a quarter million Americans dying (so far) due to a mishandled pandemic. I really believed that we were better than this. The feeling of defeat, regardless of the Presidential election result, is overwhelming.
I am reading this from Canada and deeply sick about all this. I am losing faith in my fellow man and it's crushing my spirit
... path ahead.
I don't see one. Even if Biden pulls out a squeaker, half the electorate voted to reelect the worst president in history. Half the electorate wants to destroy the Atlantic alliance. Half the electorate is more comfortable with the US playing in Putin's sandbox than in the EU's. What sort of pathway is there out of that mess, aside from a cataclysmic world war (God forbid) that might possibly unite the country?
The fact that this election is so close is a reflection of America’s failed educational system, a lack of understanding of American civics, and American addiction to social media. I am embarrassed that so many of my fellow voters are unable to discern fact from fiction, and don’t bother to fact check stories that they see on social media before sharing them. Misinformation and disinformation helped to make this election as close as it is.
Numb, sad, and enraged all at the same time. Twice in 4 years I’ve gone to bed on election night feeling like I’m living in an alternate dimension that doesn’t square with what I believe we are about.
Honestly, I don't understand why so many (mostly white) Americans are shocked to pieces. America was built on racist individualism, has enabled racism individualism throughout its history, elected this racist individualist, allowed him to enact racist and individualist policies using racist and individualist rhetoric. So yes, half the country is pumped about elected a racist individualist. It sucks. But as a black woman, it's not at all surprising that so many people would vote for someone who is so blatantly racist and self-serving. They LIKE that about him and they HATE that all these years they've been shamed for it.
I feel sick at heart. To me this is worse than 4 years ago. We have seen the corruption and incompetence of Trump and yet so many of us still support him. I don't know how to proceed. How do we heal this insanity before it is too late?
As an outdoor "poll ambassador" advocating for the Democratic party in the rural Duplin County, North Carolina town of Kenansville, I have been vilified as a Communist, told I should be in prison, and sneered at by poor local people who don't realize that they are voting against their own self-interests. This is definitely "Trump/Tillis Country."
One sympathetic gentleman who offered to relieve me from my post for 2 hours one day suggested that I should move away somewhere more conducive to my political state of mind. One enthusiast for the Republicans decided that my tires were too round and used his cordless drill to insert a drill bit into one of them, causing a slow leak and requiring a new tire purchase. These minor annoyances were offset by the gratitude of a few folks who were clearly astonished to see me at my volunteer station, seeming to believe that they were, indeed, the last Democrats within driving distance (with a full tank of gasoline), surrounded as they were on all sides by Trump and Tillis yard signs.
I stood with pride and humility and thanked every voter for coming out, even (perhaps especially) the one with the "Trumpinator" T-shirt and the multitudes wearing MAGA caps.
Win, lose, or draw -- I'll do it all again.
A few things:
The US media has failed this country terribly. Normalizing Trump's presidency got us here.
Perhaps, instead of relying on Republicans (The Lincoln Project) to help Democrats win, they should learn how to fight back. Fight hard - fight dirty. When Democrats "go high" they lose. Every damn time. When Republicans define the terms of the dialogue, they win. They bray "socialist" and Democrats patiently explain how they aren't socialist. Maybe laugh at them next time. Maybe avoid getting sucked into that kind of nonsense.
Democratic leadership needs changing. The old people who have a stranglehold don't know how to deal with current realities. This ain't the good old days, and they ain't coming back.
We should think about busting up the union into smaller, more manageable nations.
Yeah I think I'm done with voting and politics all together. It's just exhausting with no positive outcome. Too many idiots out there who don't even care what the facts are, much less acknowledge them. This country has been dumbed down to such a point that the oppressed defend their oppressors with a cult like enthusiasm. This country has been sold to the highest bidder years ago, and we the people are just pawns in the game. At this point it's just depressing and self punishment.
Even if Biden wins, way, way too many people want what Trump has given them.
OK, I'm hoping out of the chat now so I can start thinking about the next newsletter! If you have things you'd like to hear about respond to this. (If things are too unsettled by this evening, I may host another chat.)
Hello, I'm 25 and from Oklahoma City. This is my second time to vote in a presidential election, and if it turns out anything like the first, then I will have lost all confidence in the presidential election process.
I am not going to continue to participate in an election process that doesn't allow the person with the most votes to win. Period. Pardon my French, but it's fucking dumb. The people need to begin mobilizing around this. The day after Trump was announced President in 2016, many students at my university did a half-ass march to express our dissent. It felt powerful in the moment and abolishing the electoral college was definitely the main focus of our demonstration.
We will need to go further than this, though.
The millions of voters like me, whose votes are left behind in the election simply because we don't think like the people that surround us, need to peacefully demonstrate incessantly until the Electoral College is figuratively burned to the ground.
I stayed up way too late last night & eventually went to bed sorely disappointed. I thought that there were enough other voters that felt as I do about Trump that he would be defeated decisively. Even if Biden is elected, the Senate will be Republican, & after watching Obama struggle with an opposing Senate, I think it would be gridlock again. I will be 76 in January. I had hoped that I would see a progressive agenda in my remaining years, where Americans would all come together for the good of everybody. Tell me something that will give me hope.
Biden will win the presidency. It will be a narrow victory and with a Republican controlled Senate it will be like Obama's final term all over again.
However, when half the country votes _again_ for a racist, immoral, vain carnival barker we need to sit down and ask ourselves:
Who are we as a nation?
What are our defining values?
I'll be staying away from social media & the blame game. This has been a big issue for me for years; we know how to passive aggressively whine around a problem but not attack the reality head on. The GOP has cheated for years. It's been proven other countries are interfering. Voter information was accessed ahead of the election. The evening news has screamed of all the crimes for 4 yrs that can be charged if they're no longer in office. And here we are saying Biden was the wrong candidate, blaming pollsters & saying we can't believe this many voted for Trump. We have no problem destroying ourselves from the inside out, but no one wants to say straight out that we can't trust our elections. Even if more turned out in person for Trump, there are #'s in some areas that don't add up. There's absolutely nothing I wouldn't believe the GOP is capable of.
This election, regardless of whether Biden manages to win (which does seem more likely than not at this point), is an indictment of the Democratic Party Establishment's strategy of eschewing real change that is supported by a strong majority of Americans and putting forth mediocre, out-of-touch moderates. 70% of Americans support Medicare-for-All, 60% of Americans support a Green New Deal, and yet neither made their way onto the Democratic Party Platform. I am reminded of Bernie's town hall on Fox News in March, where he reframed his policy-platform as not Democrat-Republican but for the people, and has the conservative audience literally chanting along with him. I am concerned that the Democratic Party, if they don't pivot aggressively to become the party of the working class as opposed to corporate interests and "nothing would fundamentally change," will keep losing, and losing decisively.
Last night (and continuing through today and beyond), I was never more disheartened to be an American, though. Even if Biden somehow does eke out a win, half this country has proven it is perfectly okay with xenophobia, hatred of the LGBTQ community, destruction of the environment, overt racism, hundreds of thousands needlessly dying because of the denial and mismanagement of a pandemic, etc......
It looks like Americans want the division, hatred, and chaos. It's disappointing, but not as shocking as last time. Regardless of who wins, this country is not the place I was naive enough to think it was.
When Americans, like all human beings, are ripe for the influence of media and social media propagandists, they become so entrenched in their personal rabbit holes with like-minded others that they might not even be aware of the reality taking place in the world around us. It happened in my family and I thought that it would be an impossibility for us. I blame Murdoch and Fox and Facebook et al - and dark money long-viewed Koch type conservatives. Their corrupting fingers are in every branch of our government now Not sure how to break out of this entangled scary morass. But until we do we’ll have a growing political divide.
When I was in junior high and high school, passing the Constitution Test was a prerequisite to graduate. It is a shame that so many Americans have no basic understanding of how the federal government is set up, how the Electoral College works and how the dicennial census affects representation in Congress. These past four years have exposed this ignorance, not to mention, have unleashed the racism, classism, xenophobia and disdain for science that have been simmering for a long time. I am beyond demoralized.
Unwittingly, we have all been victimized by the abject failure of our communication edifices to focus on issues. Instead we have been consumed by the cult of personality; political, economic, military and media. We should all demand that our fellow citizens’ problems become our issues. I suggest we start with clean water, food security, safe housing and economic fairness. I am so tired of hearing from airbrushed pundits who have an interest in our despair.
I'm Canadian so forgive my intrusion, but I have many friends and relatives that live and enjoy all the US has to offer and for a Torontonian to be able to fly to New York or anywhere south of the border for a weekend or longer stay the US has always felt welcoming. Over the last four years that has started to wane sadly. Like many of you I woke up this morning after a short night shocked and depressed and haunted by the "why" of it. You might wonder why I care and I wish I could put my finger on it but it is as gutting for me as it is you because the US is supposed to represent the best in society and certainly not the worst. It isn't supposed to be divided and polarized. But this thread seems like a great opportunity to share what I read in the letters to the editor section of the NYT, another publication I pay to read, along with PI, just after the Democratic Convention. It is written by someone who had left the US and made Canada home
and they made the following prescient observation.
"Obama's speech was a beautiful appeal for Americans to salvage what Americans like to believe their nation is. But what if America isn't what Americans have been taught to believe it is? What if America needs to be transformed in radical ways? What if our Constitution and our presidential democracy aren't our hope—but our bane? What if the racism and cruelty that has existed in the United States throughout our history—the destruction of Native American people and culture, slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, lack of universal health care and other essential social programs, the attacks on immigrants and labour, and the fetish for guns, the police, the military, and stand your ground laws—what if all this is really what America stands for? What if our love of freedom is really a love of freedom from restraint so that we can pursue our avaricious desires without responsibility? What if Trump and today's Republicans aren't some aberration—but are the most honest expression of America's true values?
I no longer live in the United States and have no desire to return. I don't believe America's system of government or its culture are salvageable. Increasingly, freed by my life in Canada from the preconceptions all of us Americans share about who we are, I can't help asking: What if Trump's lying and cheating are in some ways the most honest expression of what America really is and Obama's high minded words are the real lie?"
I know it hasn't been decided just yet, but the lack of a decisive win leads me to believe the US electoral mechanism is broken and can't possibly reflect the society I knew it to be based on my experiences, yet here we are. Can it change? Not under Trump. We are by no means perfect but our political differences rarely if ever lead to the public outcry, protest and divisiveness of what we have witnessed the past four years.
I am disheartened like others on this thread. At age 68, with a long interest in history, I am puzzling over something. From 1875 or 78 (not sure) to the mid1920's, there was a vast wave of aggression - legal, social, physical - against black people in the USA. Huge massacres (North Carolina, Arkansas), the organization of the Ku Klux Klan (a terrorist organization), lynchings, anti-democratic legislation, trickery, thievery and more. This process, which is UNNAMED, might be called the Great Reaction. It lasted 50 years - ⅓ of the nation's life at that time. And it is completely missing from our history books, popular media, and most of all, memory and imagination. Now, since 1970, "conservatives" (white Republicans - the Southern Strategy) - have been mobilizing to do it again and this time the targets are not only people of color, but also LGBT people, women, working people, unions. Through the courts and legislatures, they aim to repeal or eviscerate all the protections gained since the New Deal. And more. This Second Reaction aims directly at the processes and core values of the liberal nation-state: equality of all citizens, due process, and regulation by the state of the vast power of private economic interests. The failure by our media and political parties to see, name, interrogate, expose and oppose this movement - this Second Reaction - has now persisted for 50 years. You can't fight or transform what you can't see and name. We have "right blindness." Like "night blindness"- that inability to see in the dark after being exposed to bright light. We, Americans have been blind to the right wing who have been waging this campaign in broad daylight.
I've always been a fairly positive person - but the last 4 years have deeply corroded that positivity in me. Our incompetent idiot is a person who takes all the air out of a room. No room for air when the room is filled with corruption, self-interest, dishonesty, intense rudeness, and most of all hatred and division. I've all but stopped reading the news. I cannot stand to see his face or hear his voice. I've quipped more than once that if Trump is re-elected that suicide becomes an option. I'm too old and too poor to leave the country which has long been a deep desire of mine. Like another commenter on here who says "I wish Facebook could be shut down...." I'll add all of social media. I think preening on Twitter is a tragic waste of time. Instagram is just a place where people can display their beauty or their muscles. Think of the time spent on these sites for low-level purposes and how it means there's no time left for reaching out to other human beings. I just don't know what else to say. Popular Information has become my tread to sanity.
One bottom line of this era: Democrats have won national majorities in three elections in a row. Structural biases mean the net results of these elections have given GOP more spoils than our side. But, this year, we likely have done just enough to win White House (even under the bullshit rules of the Electoral College) — and right now we need to secure that above all else.
We can take up soul-searching, autopsy, strategy, and the long game weeks from now.
There is no doubt that we’ll need to adapt our message, tactics, and theory of change. We need to win big enough to actually grab the levers of structural power, so we can change them.
I hardly slept last night. I keep going back and forth from the New York Times and the Washington Post, frantically refreshing the page each time, and rubbing my eyes which disbelief that it is this close. Trump simultaneously declaring victory and also promising. To challenge the final results if he loses in the days to come is absolutely bonkers.
It is hard to be eloquent this morning. I think it is because i am not surprised of the situation. I spent the last three weekends canvassing. Two in Pennsylvania and one in Maine to flip the senate seat. In PA, i canvassed the latino population in key areas since i speak spanish. When i got to my first list, i realized neither the DNC nor the Biden campaign had boots on the ground to reach such vote. We visited around 120 homes and 60% answered doors. The people who opened their doors were real voters and they expressed frustration because no one had ever come before i did to talk about the issues, their vote and how important it was. That weekend (one day before last day of registration) we got people excited about registering and about voting. I provided feedback to local organizers who did their best to get the vote out considering the limited resources they got. So i went with my partner, again this last weekend. The Biden campaign came for few days before but left again because they suspended canvassing due to covid and left no resources because they did not consider the latino vote important. Although i am educated latina, i feel the same way throughout the campaign that my vote was not important. Frustrating. So, no i am not surprised of these losses we are going through today.
The only successful campaign over these last two elections was carried out by Russia. They’ve succeeded in dividing our country with their lies and disinformation. It doesn’t matter who sits in the Oval Office when the counting is done. We’ve all lost and it’s doubtful that we will ever be united again, at least not in the remaining years I have. I’m beyond sad. I feel broken.
While I am somewhat disheartened, I am also not surprised at the outcomes. This has only strengthened my resolve to continue to act locally, where I have the ability to influence.
I hope that the Dem party also steps up its game and models the ethical way going forward.
I appreciate this newsletter because it is laser focused on a specific issue and gains traction to make change. I amplify it’s messaging where I can.
This is MY country and I am not giving up or giving in to despotism.
At the risk of being insensitive to the real anguish and dismay being shared in this thread, I did wish to share one shining moment of optimism. I also wanted to thank Judd and his team for always prioritizing insightful and impactful journalism and for creating a community of knowledgeable and passionate readers as evidence by the many posts here. Looking out the window of my hastily thrown-together and still temporary home office, I can see the sun is shining brightly, I am enjoying my morning coffee, and my cat is reading all of your comments while perched on my shoulder. Today will be a beautiful and happy day and I am convinced that nothing can change that. And if you ask me to provide evidence for this belief, I will cheerfully pretend not to hear your question!
Whether Biden wins or loses, this country didn't soundly reject a man who ripped children away from their parents as punishment and allowed over 230,000 Americans to die for political gain, and that speaks volumes about this fucking country. I no longer have faith in Americans.
I loathe Donald Trump and I loathe Trumpism, MAGA, and QAnon.
And, we now have a QAnon cohort in Congress.
Lots of work ahead, no matter what. Personally I allowed the (gratifying) hit pieces of the Lincoln Project to reassure me that it wouldn't be this close. Appreciate other posters who are pointing out all the people who voted for Trump, with whom we have to collaborate now. It would be comforting to think Russia had a thumb on the scale again, but our multiple problems (RACISM and CLIMATE CHANGE and they are intertwined) are solidly domestic.
I despair for democracy and my home country. I used to feel that Americans were defined by kindness and now the ethos is the polar opposite- all fomented by a self-serving reckless elitist.
Can someone explain why his supporters are often clothed head to toe in badges, flags, statement t-shirts, MAGA hats, etc? This has never been true before and wearing a flag certainly does not increase one’s patriotism by an iota. It is as if their sense of personal identity has been replaced.
very discouraging...i drank the kool-aid from cnn and cnbc.....they are as bad as fox just other side of the coin....was also hoping for that blue wave that showed that people were more concerned about their fellow citizens and the covid response....so disappointing......at this time i don't care who wins.....a biden win will mean nothing without some control of senate....bye bye obamacare, police reform, etc....trump was already insufferable but now he'll take the gloves off and so many support this behavior.
You seem to know an awful lot; I am wondering what country would be best for a single senior woman to move to. Spain? Canada? Needs to be affordable. I want out of this country. If this jackass is president for four more years I don't want to be here.
I'm shocked so many people in the U.S. support violence, support white supremacy, and the Nazi's. What gives? Why did to many people gives their lives in World War II only for a bunch of money grubbers, power hungry white people to laugh at them and call them losers?? I really thought people would reject Trump, yet they embrace him.
What a disgrace.
If 45 wins another term, his base is in for a surprise. They will begin to understand that 45 never cared about them and only needed them to buy more time for himself. As a lame duck president, he can stop pretending they matter (other than the occasional ego-stroking rally). Without the pretense of actually caring about his supporters, he will be able focus all his efforts on eroding what’s left of our democracy and establishing himself as the dictator he so desperately wants to be.
I am so disheartened by and ashamed of my country.
Its unimaginable that 48,2% of voters or 66 Mio Americans put us in this situation of still not knowing that this medieval thinking and blatant lying is going to end after dreadful 4 years. What a horendous nightmare. Yes we should count ANY vote.....but this depressing fact will stay: This contra factual, contact science, contra wisdom, contra ethics administration has a strong support. This is sad news for a country that once was the beacon of a modern way of living and a horrifying news for the rest of the world so eagerly in need for joined action on climate change, SARS-CoV-2 etc. which we should be able to solve if science and collaboration could prevail. So hang in there, but consider what the hack is going on in this country ? ---Til
I glean 2 things from this election: 1) Polling, as a science, has been shattered. 2) Many millions of my fellow citizens refuse to think, apparently preferring to follow. These citizens only require an upgrade to an adequate leader for us to survive as a species, for unlike polling, climate science marches on inexorably. Personally, I prefer that we humans do not become extinct.
The feeling of disgust, contempt and dissapointment at the populace that supports him is difficult to put into words.
I'm sick. I'm furious. I'm scared.
I'm in Texas and it's almost daybreak. I can't believe that just 24 hours ago I actually fantasized that my state might turn blue.That I woke up anxious, but excited.
Sure, I suspected that that snake would follow through on declaring victory and claiming fraud. But I really didn't think that half the country would still, after seeing him in all his horror, would still be behind him. But they are, and that fact will give license to the Barrs and the McConnells and the Barretts to help him carry us all into Hell.
God, help us.
Hideous to see so much red across the country.
The Democrats offer no real alternative. They have become the party of outrage and virtue signaling, not the party of democracy and real solutions for real problrms. To be this close after all this mayhem requires some profound rethinking of the DNC leadership.
"I never expected a blowout. But the idea that it is even close tells you that America has changed in ways that we might never recover from.
I have not given up. I have no idea how this will turn out and neither does anyone else. But the fact that it is this close is heartbreaking about America." - Tom Nichols - professor at the U.S. Naval War College and at the Harvard Extension School."