President Trump initially seemed well on his way to a resounding victory after Election Day voting on Nov. 3, even as mail-in ballots prevented a few key battleground states from being called. After a night of counting votes, the race has tightened and the potential outcome is not so clear cut.
The big-box media and professional political apparatus saw its delusions of a landslide by Democratic nominee Joe Biden evaporate early in the evening, as a dominant showing by Trump in Florida made a mockery of pollsters and Washington operatives who had loudly proclaimed that Biden held a commanding edge over the incumbent president in the Sunshine State.
Blue Collar Blitz
In-person voters in blue-collar Pennsylvania and Michigan appeared keen on sending an even stronger message to establishment media outlets and Old Guard politicians than they did in 2016 when they first sent populist outsider Trump to the White House. Trump had a whopping 500,000-vote lead over Biden in Pennsylvania and was up just shy of 300,000 votes in Michigan as Nov. 3 ended.
That’s not the end of the matter, however. Mail-in ballots are expected to skew heavily Democratic in the two states. Of the over 2.5 million mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, “more than 1.6 million of those ballots were from registered Democrats, 586,000 were from Republicans, and 278,000 were from independents or third-party voters,” Politico reported Nov. 3. Michigan had some 3.1 million absentee voters, according to MLive.com, and they too are expected to help Democrats cut into Trump’s advantage in the Great Lakes State.
But Trump’s firewall from 2016 held firm on Nov. 3. Despite murmurings that Texas might be in play, the Lone Star State was called for Trump before midnight eastern time. In addition to Florida, the president took Ohio and appeared to have North Carolina locked up as well.
Party of Trump
Trump’s solid in-person Nov. 3 showing in Michigan and Pennsylvania could be seen as a stern signal to Republican establishment ranks in addition to a rejection of Biden’s progressive candidacy. Pro-Trump Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was exultant as results rolled in. “We are a working-class party now. That’s the future,” Hawley tweeted in an open shot at pre-Trump-era Republicans.
The GOP appears to be holding the Senate as vulnerable incumbent Joni Ernst (R-IA) kept her seat, and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) appears set to hold on to his. Trump’s strong showing in the two states arguably helped push Tillis and Ernst toward victory. That may be a grating notion to Old Guard Republicans, many of whom were undoubtedly entertaining hopes that a slew of GOP candidates more closely aligned to their vision would maintain a red Senate even as Trump lost the presidential election.
Instead, a pair of Republican senators who tried to distance themselves from Trump were vanquished. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) was crushed by former Colorado Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper. Gardner advocated immigration reform measures in recent years that rankled Trump, and tried to mollify Black Lives Matter activists this past summer by introducing a bill to make Juneteenth, a day that marks slaves being freed, a national holiday.
Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. John McCain after she lost her 2018 race against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), suffered a second defeat, this time to former astronaut Mark Kelly. McSally failed to develop a strong theme for her candidacy. The establishment darling, whose 2014 campaign for a House seat featured an ad produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce starring a Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush, was noticeably cool to Trump throughout the race. And Trump, in turn, was cool with her at a campaign rally.
“Martha, come up just fast. Fast. Fast,” an unimpressed Trump gestured to McSally as she waited in the wings. “Come on. Quick. You got one minute! One minute, Martha. They don’t want to hear this, Martha. Come on. Let’s go. Quick, quick, quick. Come on. Let’s go.”
In a bit of a surprise, Biden was projected as taking Arizona from Trump, though the tally was tight. The win would mean little, however, unless the Democrat can overtake the president’s Election Day lead in the Rust Belt states of Michigan and Pennsylvania. The question, then, may just become: Can Democrats find a way to squeeze half a million post-Nov. 3 ballots out of its notoriously controversial blue bastion of Philadelphia? And what kind of fireworks will ensue if they do?
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.