Wednesday, 4th November, 2020

[Day 233]

I must be a real masochist watching elections of any type because I never seem to witness the result I really want. I tuned into the election broadcasts at 11.30pm last night knowing that some of the American polls would close at 12.00pm and thereafter we might get an exit poll or something. In practice, nothing seemed to happen for hours except that the predictable (i.e. states not expected to swing) announced first – the eastern seaboard states for Biden and the large empty, agricultural states in the centre of America for Trump. The first state of interest was going to be Florida in which the national polls had suggested that Biden had the narrowest of leads. In practice, it turned out that Florida was not going to turn away from Republican, and is Donald Trump’s adopted home state and the home to a sizeable population of Cuban heritage voters who are vehemently ‘anti-socialist’ and therefore responded to the message that a vote for the Democrats was a vote for ‘socialism’ (very much a ‘boo’ word in the US) Although political analysts talk about the Latino vote (or the Hispanic vote), in practice the ex-Cuban Americans have always been pretty right wing and do not vote in the same way as ‘latinos’ in other parts of the USA. So Florida stayed in the Trump camp and alter a little flurry of excitement in Texas, it too stayed in the Trump camp. I headed off for bed at 3.15 pretty dispirited and not convinced that the situation was rescuable for the Democrats as the later states were due to declare.

Meg and I walked down to the park on a beautiful Autumn day. Whilst there, we got into conversation with an elderly lady who hired a taxi at great expense to come to the park in Bromsgrove where she she said several ‘turns’ of the park to keep herself mobile. Having spent the first period of ‘lockdown’ confined to the house, she was determined to come to the park to exercise (and to chat) at least once a week if she could. It is quite inspirational when you see the efforts that some elderly people make (she was in her 80’s) to keep themselves connected with the rest of the world and mobile as well.

Upon our return home, we switched on the TV to see the latest election results.Donald Trump had assembled an audience in the ‘East’ room of the White House where he held a most extraordinary briefing. With a handle of ‘swing’ states under his belt, he declared that he was well on the way to victory, that he wanted ‘voting’ (by which he meant ‘ballot counting’) to cease in several other presidential races and he intended to apply to the Supreme Court to attempt to invalidate what he claimed was the election being ‘fraudulently’ stolen from him. We knew that Donald Trump was going to try this tactic but the audacity of it shocked the rest of the media. Then, there was just a glimmer of light for the Democrats. Eventually, they cornered the state of Arizona which was the first of the states held by Trump to ‘flip’ sides. Then it looked as though a neighbouring state of Nevada might be heading in the same direction., Finally, at about 8.00 in the evening, Wisconsin was ‘called’ for the Democrats which now puts Biden only 22 votes short in the electoral college (he needs 270 and is currently up to 248 votes so he needs 22 more) Where he to gain Nevada and Michigan, where he is about 0.5% ahead, then he will have secured the 270 votes needed even if does not get the big prize of Pennsylvania. The margin of 0.5% sounds incredibly small until you realise that the votes still to be counted are postal ballots and these are more likely to be Democrat rather than Republican and hence this 0.5% can only increase. As you might expect, the Republicans are already demanding a full recount in Wisconsin (they wouldn’t if they were ahead!) and law suits of every variety are flying thick and fast. I imagine that a lot of this will unwind some time tomorrow or even Friday – for some reason, they have stopped counting in Nevada but will carry on again tomorrow.

Needless to say, my bottles of Newcastle Brown ale have remained unopened – and will do so until some more states have declared. I suspect that with lawyers’ writs, recounts, challenges and the like, this whole election might take several days before we get anything approaching a definitive result. It is said that in China, there is amusement that a society can tear itself apart having a really divisive election – why not just have one political party (the Communist party) to make decisions in a society? However, wins the election, some commentators are already arguing that ‘Trumpism’ is now ‘baked in’ to the USA electorate and there will be a continuing culture wars for years ahead.