(Image: EPA/David Becker)

[Donald Trump’s] chance of winning is not a zero percent chance. In fact, that is roughly the same odds that it’s raining in downtown Los Angeles.

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight


It never rains in California/but girl dont they warn ya/it pours, man it pours

Albert Hammond, ‘It never rains in southern California’, 1972

Well, um, eh, errrrr, uh… as US election night wends to its close, the election is on a knife edge, but in my opinion is trending towards the re-election of President Donald Trump for a second term.

Though the map is looking good for the Democrats, it always does, with their 200 or so automatic electoral college votes. What looks terrible is, well, everything else. The hope of a Democrat landslide in the popular vote is gone; whoever actually wins this is going to do it by a couple of states. Joe Biden has come out to speak to some whacko car rally in Delaware, claiming they are on the road to victory. Trump gave a speech to raucous supporters and the press from the White House East Wing in which, as predicted, he claimed to have won the election, that it was being stolen, and portrayed late ballot counting, as voting. 

So far, worryingly for the Democrats, nothing is changing hands at all. Fox had called Florida for Trump around midnight US time, and others will follow. Pennsylvania and the rust bucket states are trending towards Trump. North Carolina is on a knife edge. On a brighter note, Arizona is trending towards Biden, and so is — wait for it — the Nebraska second congressional district, centred on the hipster parts of Omaha.

With those, Biden would need both Wisconsin and Michigan if Pennsylvania and North Carolina can’t be won. By my reckoning, that would have Biden win right on 270 votes. Falling short by anything at all gives it to Trump on a knife edge.

But of course this is a new type of election, one in which early and mail-in votes are vastly beyond anything known before, and every state handles these differently. However, Pennsylvania streams them in on election day, and of the swing states only Wisconsin and Michigan have a significant lag.

It is going to take a significant swing in those states to reverse the trend. The developing picture from the frenetic infobabble being spruiked by the US network coverage (and the delicious incomprehension of the Australian anchors) is that the Biden campaign has failed to make inroads into key groups they thought they might win such as suburban white women, who appear to have switched over but only by 5% to 7% in states like Ohio, falling far short of the target.

In general, it would appear, as your correspondent has speculated, that the Biden campaign hasn’t been able to put together and supercharge the grand progressive coalition sufficient to defeat the shift of the white working class to the Republicans, and especially to split off non-college white women from Trump.

It may turn out that Biden’s comment in the second debate about transitioning away from oil may have been the kiss of the whip for his campaign — and that both the deeper pitch and the candidate were incapable of staging that deeper shift.

That would be something the Democrats would have to have a war over. Trouble is, its factions will have completely different answers about what went wrong — for even if this were a victory for them, it most certainly wasn’t.

Peter Fray

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today and get your first 12 weeks for $12.

Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW