Gloomy Democrats could be headed for a blowout victory
At The Daily Beast, Molly Jong-Fast writes about feeling discontent about her party's likely defeat of Donald Trump. "Liberals like myself wanted a decisive victory against Trump," she writes. "We wanted to show the rest of the world that America wasn't a country of racist idiots. We wanted to strike a blow against the stupidity. We wanted to send a message that Trumpism was a fluke, that we were Obama's America, not Trump's. But Trumpism was not repudiated."
This feeling is understandable. For weeks, we heard talk of 400-Electoral College vote blowouts and debated whether we should expand the courts and add new states. Those were heady days, and a sense of let-down was inevitable as we anxiously watch the votes come in. Sometimes, a decent movie comes out with so much hype surrounding it that when you finally get around to seeing it you think it sucks.
But I'm reminded of the days following the 2018 midterms, when early returns suggested that the Democrats had barely eked out a win. As one Pennsylvania newspaper described it a week later, "a highly-anticipated Democratic Blue Wave trickled ashore, disappointing everyone." It took a couple more weeks before we knew that the Democrats had in fact won by the biggest margin in a midterm election in US history.
This year, we won't get the historic, Reagan-vs-Mondale landslide that many of us had hoped for. We're way too polarized for that at this point. Dems will lose a handful of House seats, in part because that 2018 wave brought them a number of wins in reddish districts that were ripe for the GOP to flip back. They disappointed in state legislative races as well.
But if a thorough repudiation of Donald Trump is the standard, then things are looking pretty good as of this writing. Nate Silver projects that Joe Biden will win the popular vote by a margin of around seven million. He's held all of the states Clinton won four years ago and has so far flipped at least three states that Trump won in 2016 (Fox News and the Associated Press have called a fourth, Arizona, for Biden while other media organizations have it as too close to call). Biden looks very likely to win Pennsylvania, looks good in Georgia and is holding a small lead in Nevada, which is counting slowly. If he holds on to win all of those states where he's favored and manages to eke out a win in North Carolina, where Trump holds a lead, he'll end up at 321 Electoral College votes. Without North Carolina, he'd end up at 306.
And let me pause here to just emphasize that at this moment, it looks very good for a Democrat in Arizona and Georgia. Arizona has gone for Democrats in one election (1996) since 1952; Georgia has voted Democratic three times since 1964, but two of those wins were for a Jimmy Carter, a Georgia peanut farmer.
And while Mitch McConnell is likely to be the Senate Majority leader when the next Congress is sworn in, which would be a nightmare, that body is still in play. In the deep-red state of Alabama, Republicans ran a dopey college football coach who wasn't a sexual predator and easily won back Sen. Doug Jones's seat as expected. But Democrats flipped seats in Colorado and Arizona and North Carolina is too close to call. At present, it looks likely that both Georgia seats will head for a runoff on January 5--twin contests that would no doubt be flooded with cash and activism. That would be a heavy lift, but perhaps fresh off of flipping the state and with Trump still in office throwing temper tantrums but not on the ballot himself, Dems would have a slight advantage. Their candidates are both strong.
The necessary caveats here are obvious. Things could go Trump's way in a couple of the uncalled states. His team is flooding the zone with lawsuits. Republicans could easily hold Democrats to picking up just one net seat in the Senate. But if conservatives, who believe they're always winning when they aren't being cheated, were in liberals' position, they'd be elated.