Tomorrow’s Election Could Be an Electoral Disaster
2020 will go down as one of the most memorable years in recent history and it may not be done with us yet. One of the more likely outcomes of the US presidential election on Tuesday is Donald Trump loses the popular vote but wins the Electoral College. If this happens, it will be the third time a US candidate lost the votes but won the presidency in the last twenty years. However, that would be the end result of a week that could be full of election stupidities.
Forget the fact we vote on the first Tuesday in November only because this gives us enough time to complete our autumn harvest and then travel by horse for one full day to the closest polling station. (Side note — if you haven’t yet completed your harvest and set off on horseback, you’re probably screwed.) And ignore the long voting lines. The most embarrassing aspect of US elections is that the Byzantine Electoral College crowns losers as winners, and this year’s winner may be the biggest loser to ever win.
Experts such as Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor who runs the US Elections Project, estimates over 150 million Americans may vote in this presidential election, with some experts putting that number closer to 165 million. That would be 30 million more people voting than did in 2016 when Hillary Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than her opponent Donald Trump. Despite his lower vote tally, Trump became president with an 80,000 vote margin in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania thanks to the quirks of the Electoral College.
My Romanian friends sometimes ask me about the US’s Electoral College and why it exists. I explain it’s a tailbone or an appendix, a vestigial remnant of an earlier evolution from a time when we thought black people were only 3/5 human and only white men were allowed to vote. It stemmed from a mistrust of centralized power and a radical notion of overrepresentation required by slave states to remain in the union, which never went away even after the Civil War and slavery ended. This mostly useless vestigiality sitting in the crack in America’s democracy might provide a drawn-out election night, resulting in over six million more votes cast for Joe Biden yet Donald Trump being declared…