On the day after what was a harrowing and very very late Election Night for many Democrats, it is now fairly clear, as of today's BradCast, that --- barring some sort of tabulation surprise or failure (they do happen) --- Joe Biden is set to win at least 270 electoral college votes to become the nation's next President. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
This will likely happen even if Biden doesn't end up winning Pennsylvania (or even Georgia or North Carolina) with the many still-untabulated, largely Democratic votes left to count in the state. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, election officials were barred by gerrymandered, GOP-controlled state legislatures from counting any mail-in ballots until Election Day, so unofficial results on Election Night were much slower coming in. (In Pennsylvania, as we explained with a PA election official last week, it is even worse, because officials in the state are barred from even pre-processing mail-in ballots by opening, verifying them, etc., before Election Day.)
Nonetheless, faced with his likely crushing defeat at the ballot box, Donald Trump did what he does, and precisely what we warned you, very specifically in recent weeks, that he would do. He attempted to gaslight the American people via his Twitter account and a 2:30am "news conference" with supporters at the White House, where he tried to super-spread the lie that counting legally cast ballots after Election Day was somehow "a fraud on our nation" and a "sad" attempt by Democrats to "STEAL the election" from him. After falsely declaring victory, he vowed that "we are going to the Supreme Court" to, presumably, try to stop the counting of votes, though it remains unclear whether he has any cause of action whatsoever to try and do that.
Trump's late-night lie and threat fest did not go over well. Even Republicans of all stripes condemned the remarks --- from Chris Wallace of Fox "News" to Trump's debate prep ally Chris Christie to the RNC's top election attorney Ben Ginsberg --- all of whom declared Trump's announced plans to stop the counting of lawfully cast votes to be shameful, anti-democratic and counter-productive to his case, not to mention an embarrassment to the nation. We share a number of those responses on today's show.
In short, Trump's desperate scheme is unlikely to work, barring evidence of some sort of actual fraud or mistabulation. Before media outlets called both Wisconsin and Michigan for Biden today, Team Trump vowed to seek a "recount" in Wisconsin, and announced plans to file suit in those states and Pennsylvania in hopes of stopping perfectly legal on-going vote tallies. In an effort to recreate the magic of 2000's infamous "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Florida, Trump supporters in Detroit on Wednesday attempted, unsuccessfully, to storm the counting room.
That is by way of contrast with Biden's own late-night statement to supporters on Tuesday night, noting that "it's not my place or Donald Trump's place to declare the winner of this election. It's the voters' place," and that "every vote must be counted." He vowed that "nobody is going to take our democracy away from us, not now, not ever."
We shall see. But it is looking very good for Democrats today, at least on the Presidential level as of air time today. As to their hopes of winning back a much-needed majority in the U.S. Senate, that hope appears dim at this hour, if still a long-shot possibility. Combined with the reported loss, so far, of five Democratic seats in the U.S. House and the results on several ballot initiatives across the nation, it was certainly a confusing verdict from the American people --- presuming the reported, unverified and unofficial results to date prove to be accurate.
What to make of all of this? We are joined today by our old friend and Wisconsin favorite son, progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and Madison's Capitol Times. As usual, Nichols has helpful insight into all of this, both for progressives and establishment Democrats, as well as a unique perspective from a state which barely went to Donald Trump in 2016 for the first time in decades, and which now appears to have flipped back to Democrats by a similarly small margin. His body of knowledge also comes from a longtime progressive state that took a very similar right turn over the past couple of decades as the nation now appears to have taken, with the rise (and fall) of former Gov. Scott Walker.
"I like the fact that the people [Trump] attacked the most, the people he threatened to send federal forces in to squash their protests and minimize their outcry --- they pushed back against him," Nichols says, noting his optimism after last night. "I see something very positive in that. I would even dare say there was something delicious, or at least appealing in the poetic justice of it." On the other hand, he tells me, noting the "blunt reality" of the situation, "Democrats shouldn't be overly enthusiastic about a situation where, it appears, the prospect they have taken the Presidency without a Senate. Because, I've argued throughout this year, that if Joe Biden is elected President with Mitch McConnell still in charge of the Senate, Joe Biden begins his Presidency as a lame-duck."
Finally, we share an audio clip of our nominee today for the hands-down most optimistic take on whatever the hell happened yesterday, from a noted Presidential historian...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)