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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

2020 ElectionNews and information

Election 2020: WTF?!

The election has come and gone… And we’re still waiting for more numbers. What does all of this mean?

I won’t even try to convince you I have all the answers. Let’s just run through the numbers and see how they address your questions.

So what’s happening here in Nevada?

Right now, it’s looking really close. But before anyone shouts, “Paint it red!”, keep in mind that Joe Biden has pretty much cemented a clear lead in Washoe County, and that he appears to be faring no worse than Hillary Clinton in most of the rural counties

So far Clark County vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots have been breaking very strongly for Democrats, just as we’re seeing in most of the rest of the country. There’s a reason why President Donald Trump has made all sorts of erratic and dangerous threats since last night. He knows that as long as Nevada and the other battleground states continue to count all their votes, Trump’s in big trouble.

2020 Election, Joe Biden
Photo by Andrew Davey

Perhaps I was off in my final forecast, and I’m ready, willing, and able to admit it if I am proven wrong later. But remember, there are tens of thousands more ballots to be counted, and the vast majority of them are in the two urban counties where Biden is already ahead. Unless the remaining Clark County ballots diverge wildly from this pretty established trend and behave very differently from what we’ve seen thus far in Washoe County (where, by the way, Biden already has a slightly bigger lead than Jacky Rosen amassed when she won the Senate race in 2018), it appears that Democrats are at least on track this cycle to do roughly as well as they did two years ago.

And by the way, that probably also portends good news for Reps. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) and Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas), and for Democrats in the Nevada Legislature. Horsford and Lee are already ahead, and so far it doesn’t seem like their performance is diverging from Biden’s. And unless these final Clark VBM’s diverge greatly from the present trendline, those final VBM’s should help Nicole Cannizzaro (SD 6), Kristee Watson (SD 5), and perhaps Shea Backus (AD 37) as well. 

What about the rest of the country? (And what about all the premature finger-pointing at voters of color?)

If nothing else, at least I was right about this: Arizona may now be the most interesting battleground state in the country, and perhaps the most promising one for Democrats going forward. As we learned from Cindy McCain and other local (ex-?)Republicans for Biden, the “suburban surge” is very real and may result in lasting change in how we assess the two major parties’ path to victory. If Republicans have to sweat in places like Scottsdale and Gilbert that used to be considered “Goldwater Country”, that’s not a good sign for them going forward.

Also, despite what some national pundits are saying, voters of color delivered big for Democrats overall. Yes, there’s ample evidence that Democrats performed disastrously in Florida’s Miami-Dade County and in rural areas with large Latinx populations. However, that does not tell the entire story. Look at the major shifts in Arizona, in Georgia, and elsewhere. 

It’s easy for media pundits and Democratic Party establishment figures to scapegoat voters of color. It’s harder for them to ask the harder questions on why they continue to ignore the classic words of wisdom that they can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. 

While the “suburban strategy” may be enough for Biden to clinch it, it’s not good enough to sustain a “blue wave”.

Yes, so far it looks like Democrats’ hot and heavy chase for more affluent college-educated suburbanites did the trick in Arizona, Wisconsin, and the Omaha-based Nebraska congressional district that awards its own electoral vote, and this “suburban strategy” should help them in Michigan, North Carolina, and Georgia. But for all the pre-election hype about how college-educated white suburbanites would deliver a “Blue Wave” even bigger than 2018, the results from Florida, Ohio, Texas, and elsewhere beg to differ.

While Biden and congressional Democratic candidates did (again) perform above the historic baseline in places like Seminole County (Florida), Collin County (Texas), and Delaware County (Ohio), it just was not enough to overcome Trump’s robust and radicalized base in places that continue to fall further out of reach for Democrats. 

Joe Biden. Election 2020
Photo by Andrew Davey

Let’s face it: “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” may make sense to hard-core Biden supporters. But for people who have lost jobs, lost paychecks, and lost any guarantee that they can pay the bills and have food in the fridge, they’re probably thinking about far more pertinent battles than “for the soul of the nation”. Seriously, after Al Gore’s struggle to explain how he would improve Americans’ lives as president in 2000, John Kerry’s same struggle in 2004, and Hillary Clinton’s infamously similar struggle in 2016, why do so many Democrats still struggle with this now?

They can’t say we didn’t warn them. When Biden first entered the presidential race in April 2019, and in the subsequent weeks full of Biden trips to Nevada ahead of our (now infamous) caucus, I noticed Biden’s messaging lean very hard on the same kind of character argument that Clinton used in 2016. Again, when people are struggling to survive, “unifying” platitudes fall very flat very fast.

Good luck, America.

Now that the voting part of the election is over and the counting part is currently underway, we simply need to wait and let election officials count all the ballots. It’s absolutely horrifying that we’re seeing the current White House occupant suggest otherwise, as U.S. officials used to condemn such actions as dangerously undemocratic. It’s just another of a multitude of warning signs pointing to rising authoritarianism reaching our shores, with another warning sign being how we conduct our elections and how most states beyond our own make it so difficult for people to vote.

Right now, we just have to survive what may turn out to be the most frighteningly tumultuous period of American history since the (first?) Civil War. Right now, we just need to ensure that all legally cast ballots are properly counted. And in the days ahead, we’ll have to have more hard talks about what’s gone wrong and what we must make right.

For now, I’ll just paraphrase Edward R. Murrow: Good day, and good luck.

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