It’s November 6, three days after election day and we do not have an official winner of the election. If you live in Biden world (like I do), there’s finally optimism that Biden will eventually be declared the winner, and the lead he’s just taken in Pennsylvania makes that very likely. If you live in Trump world, hundreds of thousands of votes were cast after the election and it’s just a matter of time before the Supreme Court throws them out and declares Trump the winner. I don’t have a sense of how populated that version of Trumpworld is, but it’s not empty.
My week has basically been consumed by this election. I’ve largely neglected work, except to read the reviews of a rejected grant that sadistically were released yesterday, and have spent time watching news, reading news, making excel sheets to calculate estimated remaining votes and percentages needed for Biden or Trump to take leads in the uncalled states. It’s both good and bad that I’m not a risk of being fired from my job for basically taking a very long weekend, but bad because I could basically take a very long weekend without the need to focus on something other than this insanity.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to focus on Monday. I had a few work meetings, but mostly spent the day trying to ignore the world, actually watching non-news television. Same with Tuesday. This was the waiting in line phase of the roller coaster. I got to the amusement park, parked the car, looked around, had some cotton candy, took in the sights, and got in line for the main attraction.
Then the ride started. There were of course the expected calls, and then there was Florida. Trump was predicted to lose Florida, and it became clear early on that he was going to win. The polls were wrong. Then there were Georgia and North Carolina. States where Biden had a chance, but they were going red, and friends started to message me. Then things looked bad in Pennsylvania and in Michigan and in Wisconsin and in Ohio and it was all over. One friend sent a text “it’s 2016 all over again.” I agreed. I sank. Not only because I was sure Trump was going to win, but because so much of my sanity is vested in science and information gathering. It felt like I lived in a world that wasn’t real.
I stayed up until 3:30 watching for things to change, listening to people say that this was expected and that they warned us that we wouldn’t know who won on election night. I had some glimmers of hope from Karl Rove expressing concerns that Trump’s lead wasn’t enough to hold up when the mailed ballots were added to the totals, but I still was sure that we were looking at another four years of Trump.
Then Wednesday morning came around and it seemed clear that Biden was going to win. Then Wednesday afternoon came around and it was less certain. Then Thursday morning came around and I was sure that we were in a Charlie Brown, Lucy football episode and all the air was going to come out of the tire when Biden got within a few votes of the states he needed, but fell short.
By Thursday night, I had multi-tab spreadsheets for Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. I calculated the lead that Biden would need in the remaining votes to take the lead, including all the red counties that had outstanding votes, and it just didn’t seem likely. In PA, for instance, he needed to perform a full 6 percentage points better in all the remaining votes than he had performed in all the votes counted. It just didn’t seem possible. But then returns started coming, and not only did he hit that mark, but he went way over it.
And then, this morning, more votes came in and Biden had a lead. A small lead. But a lead. In Pennsylvania.
I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t predict all possible futures. But at this point, it really looks like Biden will be the 46th President of the United States.
I’ll have plenty more to say in other posts. I’m thinking a lot about the alternate realities we live in and how divided we still are. I’m thinking about Geraldo and the FoxNews folks saying this morning that “Queens isn’t America” with anger in their voices. I’m thinking about polling and the Trump effect.
But I’m thinking about these things in the light of the apparent Biden win, which is much better than doing so in the shadow of a Biden loss.
I hope the ride is over now and there’s not an unexpected hill (or car derailment) up ahead.