Opinion

A Tumultuous Time

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Posted: Nov 12, 2020 12:01 AM
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A Tumultuous Time

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Those who had hoped the election would provide the nation with a clear way forward were wrong. More than a week after Election Day, states are continuing to count votes, and President Donald Trump's campaign has filed lawsuits in several states. Regardless of the final outcome, over 70 million Americans will have voted for the other presidential candidate. What do we know? We are a nation divided.

As of Wednesday, the RealClearPolitics website shows the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign with 259 electoral votes and Trump/Pence at 217 electoral votes. States still outstanding are Alaska (3 electoral votes), Arizona (11), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15) and Pennsylvania (20). It takes 270 to win. A majority of the media has called the election for Biden, but many Americans no longer trust the media.

While the media and Democrats have been pushing for a fast determination, there is a reason for President Trump's refusal to join them: the November 2000 election between Republican nominee George W. Bush and Democratic nominee Al Gore, which ended over a month later, in a Dec. 12 Supreme Court decision. According to Andrew E. Busch, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and co-author of "The Perfect Tie: The True Story of the 2000 Presidential Election," "One of Gore's political problems throughout the five weeks was that he had conceded to Bush, then withdrew his concession, so he was widely seen as a bad loser." What politicians learned from the 2000 election was not to concede too early.

Busch's comments provide perspective. When all is said and done -- recounts, court battles, you name it -- whoever wins, there will be no mandate and no coattails.

Let's look at who voted for whom by demographics. When comparing Trump's 2020 performance by demographic (AP VoteCast exit polls) versus his 2016 performance (Pew Validated voters), the results are fascinating. Trump outperformed himself by 17 points with Latino men; 9 points with African American women; 9 points with white, college-educated men; 6 points with white, college-educated women; 5 points with Latino women; and 5 points in the 18-29 age group. He lost 2 points from white, non-college-educated women; 6 points from adults ages 65-plus; 7 points from African American men; 12 points from suburban voters; and 20 points from white, non-college-educated men.

What would we like? Americans would like centered leadership. What do we have? Two fractured parties and a nation bitterly divided. We'd like simple, competent leaders who get just a few things accomplished. At least that's what I'd like. Instead, we have both sides screaming at each other. Voters are currently the losers.

The winners? Political consultants, media buyers and super PAC operators. According to OpenSecrets, election spending in 2020 more than doubled what it was in 2016, to $13.9 billion. Roughly half of this was spent on presidential campaigns ($6.6 billion) and half on congressional elections ($7.3 billion). Democratic spending made up 65%, with Republicans spending 35%.

Overall, over 72 million Americans voted for Trump. The Republicans have picked up more House members and now have a record 29 Republican women in the House. Republicans now have 50 U.S. senators, with a possible pickup of two more in Georgia, where Republican incumbents Sonny Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing runoffs on Jan. 5.

Georgia is my home state, and while many are calling for a fast election result here, too, it seems to me that transparency and accuracy are more important. While I hate to admit it, when this is all over, we should look south to Florida and the voting legislation undertaken by the Florida state government that resulted in a fast, clean count of their votes. Yes, I know that the University of Georgia recently lost to the University of Florida 28 to 44, and many Bulldogs fans may still be reeling in disbelief. But sometimes, you lose. When you do lose, it's best to learn from the loss and move forward.

But the clock is still ticking on this election, and this is no game.

We have a few more interesting weeks ahead. Don't believe what the media tells you (there was supposed to be a blue tsunami). Listen for issues, rather than personal attacks. And be kind to those you disagree with while maintaining your stance. At least you will be providing them with a good example.