News World US US Election Larry Hackett: Let the election post-mortems begin

Larry Hackett: Let the election post-mortems begin

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Votes are still being counted, so speculating on the final outcome would be a fools’ errand.

And while this waiting is agony, it was duly predicted by many analysts in the days and weeks prior to voting. So, we’re sorry your stomach is in knots, but we knew this was coming.

But here are some things that will haunt Democrats in the coming months, no matter what happens in the coming days.

Polling Peril

On Monday (Australian time), the respected New York Times poll declared Mr Biden ahead in Wisconsin by 11 points. His margin, should he win, will be less than one percent. That’s a huge miss.

Other battlegrounds, like Michigan, had polled closer, but their margins are also razor-thin. And these discrepancies are all the more frustrating because pollsters insisted there were very few undecided voters heading into Tuesday’s race.

What went wrong? Did voters change their minds? Did they lie to pollsters? Is that “shy” Trump voter – analysed and dismissed months ago – in fact a real thing? Did polls once again simply underestimate the non-college white male voter? How these polls could be so wrong is something that must be addressed.

To be clear, polling gurus like Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight did account for a Trump win in their probabilities, so they’re not at fault. It’s the data they were analysing that seems woefully off-base in some very key places.

No “Blue Wave”

Many of those same polls also predicted that Democrats would takeover the US Senate. That now seems highly unlikely.

Some races remain too close to call, but Iowa GOP Senator Joni Ernst held on to her seat, and Maine Senator Susan Collins, who seemed headed for certain defeat, won resoundingly.

The math is in flux, but it looks like GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who won handily) will still be in power. So, even a Biden presidency would mean more DC gridlock for the next four years.

That balance of legislative and executive power is a foundation of the US government, but it’s been failing amidst growing partisanship. This changes nothing.

¿Que Pasaron, Latinos?

It’s always tough for Democrats to appeal to Miami’s Cubans, who have long flocked to Republican’s anti-Castro rhetoric and policies (yes, Fidel is dead, but old habits die hard).

Mr Biden, however, underperformed badly with this group Wednesday (Australian time), which dashed any hopes he might win Florida. He ultimately won more votes than Hillary statewide, but his margin of defeat was wider than hers four years ago.

In Texas, Mr Biden won Latinos of Mexican heritage by a margin of 19 percent, but that was far lower than Hillary Clinton’s 27-percent margin.

Mr Biden’s weakness was telegraphed for weeks; his inability to campaign in person was said to have hurt him on the ground. The swing towards Mr Trump in some counties was dramatic.

So how is it that Latinos could vote for a man whose antipathy towards them is a foundation of his presidency?

There are theories – older Latinos find success and become more Republican, for example. But the glib expectation that Latinos are a monolithic culture automatically in the Democrats’ corner was roundly repudiated Tuesday night.

Speaking of Texas

Those dreams of turning the Lone Star State blue will remain just dreams for now.

Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at NRG Stadium in Harris County, Texas. Photo: Getty

Democrats were tantalised by the nearly 10 million early votes that poured into the rapidly changing state. But in the end, Mr Biden won very few counties.

All that talk about liberalising suburbs and Latino surges proved illusory – or, in the words of longtime Texas journalist Evan Smith, “a great big bag of bupkis”.

..and Georgia

Another dream that seems dashed (though votes are still being counted) was a Democratic shift in Georgia, the heart of the Old South.

Suburbs around Atlanta have been turning blue, and charismatic local Black politician Stacy Abrams became a national figure with her fight to register huge numbers of African-American votes.

But Mr Biden failed to win here, and it’s doubtful Democrats will pick up either of the two Senate seats up for grabs Tuesday night.

That’s a fairly long to-do list, no matter how the presidential vote turns out. Depending on how that goes, the list could get longer.

Larry Hackett is the former editor-in-chief of People magazine, and a contributor to the US morning television news program Good Morning America