Today is Election Day in America. For the moment, the U.S. still qualifies as a democratic republic. We may be a banana republic tomorrow. Future ex-president, Donald J. Trump, continues to trash election laws and norms with a retooled federal judiciary backing him. Some judges – state and federal – are pushing back, rolling up the Constitution, and smacking him on the snout with it.
The 2020 presidential election depends on a handful of states, where the outcome is in doubt. The antagonists expect the other forty-four states expect to fall into the party line. A state as populous as New York and California is ignored. They will vote Democratic (Blue). The same was true for a state like Texas, reliably Republican in the past. Texas’ urban population has been swelling with presumably Democratic voters. For this election, the Lone Star State and its 38 electoral votes are “in play.” Trump expects to win; must win. Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is another state up for grabs. It voted for Trump last time, and Obama before that. Conventional wisdom is that Trump must carry the Alligator State to win. Biden can endure a loss there, as long as he holds conventionally Democratic states. A Biden win in Florida will shut the door for Trump in 2020.
Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes remain the elusive grand prize. In 2016, Pennsylvania was called for Trump by a whisker, and the air went out of the Democratic balloon. Obama voters stayed home on Hillary. If Biden can reignite the Obama coalition, he can take back the Keystone State and foreclose almost all Trump paths to reelection.
These three states are swing or battleground states with enough electoral votes to decide the contest. They have been prime targets for voter registration and voter suppression. Recently as red as a baboon’s posterior, Texas has been shading Blue for some time, now resembling a mandrill’s proboscis. If we as a nation are turning banana yellow, it will probably happen in Texas first.
Several Texas pickup trucks kettled a Biden bus on a highway right outside the People’s Republic of Austin on Sunday. Governor Greg Abbott removed all drop-boxes but one for Houston, the most populous city in Texas and fourth nationally. Republicans asked the Texas election commission to throw out 127,000 votes already cast at a drive-thru poll site.
Early voting in the Beef State has already surpassed the state’s entire 2016 total. Trump carried the Jumbo State by 9 points, while most of the 2016 polls predicted Trump winning by a smaller margin. 2020’s pundits and pollsters are predicting that it will break Blue. Trump will lose if he can’t put the Jumbo State in his column. Hence, the Trump Trucks and the Stupid Governor Tricks.
Florida is crucial for a reelection victory. Trump and his grifter clan depend on Sunshine State voters to keep them as squatters on government property. The race was called a toss-up, but yesterday’s data showed a bit of daylight between Trump and Biden, with Nate Silver of Five-Thirty Eight forecasting a Biden win in the Gator State.
The Democrats remain spooked for a good reason. After Orange State voters restored voting rights to a million or so ex-felons, the Republican legislature and governor passed a law denying the right to vote to an ex-felon who has not paid court costs. To paraphrase Justice Clarence Thomas, this amounts to a high-tech poll tax. The federal 11th Circuit Court upheld the law. The Supreme Court had previously voted to keep the law in effect until the Nine – or Eight – get a substantive crack at it. When the Court splits evenly, the decision of the immediately lower court stands.
Florida’s seniors are now a worry for Trump. There is severe fallout at the Villages, long a Republican enclave for septuagenarian swingers. This year a Blue varicose has appeared in its crimson body politic. It has thrown golf games and Viagra inventory into chaos. At the same time, Biden is concerned about low turnout among black men; Biden is asking, “Where’s my Jim Clyburn?” Pollsters are also spotlighting voting by Latino men, whose conservative values defy conventional close-minded Democratic thinking.
Assuming that Trump holds Texas and Florida, Pennsylvania will be in the crosshairs. The Keystone State is also called the Oil State and the Coal State, and those are bad signifiers for Biden. Joe has been somewhat squishy. He has pledged both not to end fracking for natural gas and to end fossil fuels. But then, in 2016, Trump promised to make coal “clean.” No ambiguity this year: Trump plans to frack his way to the top.
The Quaker State is supposed to be Native Son Biden country. Last time it was supposed to be Hillary Clinton Country, but she lost there by just enough to swing the election to Trump. This time, the legal fight in the Commonwealth is over mail-in ballots. Republicans failed to convince the Supreme Court to reject all properly postmarked ballots received after election day.
The electoral problem then and the fear now is female turnout in the Philadelphia suburbs. Biden seems to have brought Main Line women back into the fold.
Black voters in the Big Scrapple may stay home though, damaging the Democrats because they do not see Biden and Trump’s difference. This point of view sums up what many young voters say. It is pretty much what Ralph Nader said in 2000 when he drew Florida votes away from Al Gore, and what Donald Trump argues brashly to voters of color soured on the Democratic establishment: what have you got to lose? If I had a Trump-supporting police officer’s jackboot on my neck, I would think there was everything to lose.
Today, November 3, 2020, people are lining up to make themselves heard. Hopefully, all of their votes will be counted. Things may look different, though, on November 4, when battalions of election lawyers line up like storm troopers on courthouse steps of many of the battleground states.