The State of The Nation - equivocation, dereliction and failure
Tuesday the 3rd of November 2020 will go down in history. We are still a week away from the final ballots being counted and a likely Supreme Court case, but this is undoubtedly a major failure for the Democrats, the pollsters and the media - even if Biden walks away with the presidency.
Once again, the pollsters got it wildly wrong. This was pitched as a formality, not a contest. Biden was going to obliterate Trump countrywide as the US came to its senses and voters got back in line. Texas was a swing state and Trump was going to be dragged kicking and screaming from the White House by the National Guard as Antifa and BLM jeered from the sideline.
And then the polls changed.
A slight uptick for Trump with just days to go - but no the media stood steadfast - Biden to win a landslide. Yet, on the evening before election day, Washington, Seattle and LA found themselves boarded up in preparation for the rioting and looting that seems to have become a trope of Democrat unrest. A tiny semblance of fear that this may not go their way.
As early votes poured in, the Democrats, pollsters and media seemed to have their confidence vindicated. Florida began drifting blue, Biden built an early lead in Texas and it looked like the election could be done by the end of the evening. This wasn’t to be - Trump took Florida, recouped Texas, and currently has a lead in the rust belt. This isn’t going to be over anytime soon.
So this poses a key question - and one that the Democrats must ask themselves, even if it is easier to cover up the cracks with a slim election victory - how did they blow such a massive lead? There are probably three real answers here that have all led to this result: That lead may have never existed in the first place, Biden may just be thoroughly uninspiring as a candidate and the Democrats may have just gambled on identity politics and come up short.
After a summer of rioting and fear mongering across the US, it was naive of the pollsters to believe that the US equivalent of the “shy tory” complex had simply gone away after 2016. Trump supporters have been regularly vilified, accused of white supremacy and even labeled as the “darkness” to his “light” by Joe Biden himself. It should have been blatantly obvious to the media and pollsters that this was not the kind of narrative that would encourage people to admit that they were voting for Trump.
The second factor was simply Biden as a candidate. The Democrats somewhat effectively hid Biden’s frailties for the majority of the leadup to the election, but as the day itself drew closer, it became wildly obvious to large swathes of the American public that Republican attacks over Biden’s cognitive state weren’t unfounded. He slurred and stumbled his way through the first debate, with his own shortcomings effectively shrouded by Trump’s distinctly unpresidential and bullish showing, before claiming on TV to be running for a Senate seat that he had apparently held for 180 years, claiming that the US had seen 100 Million Covid deaths that were all Trump’s fault and, most sadly of all, introducing his grand-daughter as his deceased son. All this whilst the furore about the Hunter Biden-Ukraine scandal gathered steam and it became clearer and clearer to the American public that they may have been looking in the wrong direction when investigating links between political families and Eastern European governments.
The final major issue that the Democrats must deal with is their continued assumption that they are simply entitled to the minority vote. The Edison exit poll for example should make very concerning reading for a party which propped up a 77 year old white man who has publicly stated his soft spot for segregationists to accuse black people that didn’t vote for him of “not being black”. The democrats have repeatedly assumed that they are forever entitled to votes from the BAME hive mind that will always bleed blue and will always vote Democrat because Biden managed to pick a VP on criteria that he personally specified would be based on physical characteristics rather than competency.
This story is far from over, and one would expect a huge number of twists and turns before the 20th of January, but even if Biden becomes President, this has not been a good election for the Democrats. The narrative for months has been that this would be a walkover - it is far from it. There are still serious questions about Biden, the Democrat’s assumptions about minorities and the state of the nation as a whole. Pollsters have largely been outed as either equivocators or specialists in dereliction and the media have failed to learn the lessons of 2016.