Quick Note on the Election “Call”

I had the Martinelli’s out of the refrigerator yesterday at 4. We put it back and it is still there. The first thing to understand, if you don’t already, is that the delays have nothing to do with the result, which is overwhelmingly likely to net Biden Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, and Trump North Carolina.

There has been a lot of frustration today about the lack of calls, but I suspect there are more than data-driven considerations, even on the decision desk. Georgia is un”call”able given its low margin, because there is likely to be scrutiny in any statewide election within this margin. Biden has become the overwhelming favorite to win, but the process will last a while and a lot must happen between now and then—not all of it as relatively predictable as data forecasting.

Nevada is sitting on the AP and Fox maps as a no-call, though there is no chance Trump will win Nevada. But if AP and Fox award Nevada, they will have to call the whole election based on their Arizona calls. While this would be of little consequence in the long term with Pennsylvania ultimately going to Biden, it could unnecessarily agitate Trump, whose advisers soothed their giant baby-man to sleep on Tuesday night by telling him they would ultimately win Arizona by 30,000 under circumstances in which he was going to be prohibitively lucky to win by 1. Of course, now Trump—who has no idea how any of this actually works—thinks his supposed 30,000 vote victory has been stolen from him. Maricopa County will potentially release enough ballots to confirm Fox’s call tomorrow, which will be helpful.

The traditional networks would like to use Pennsylvania to call 270. It looked like yesterday would be the day, but then the vote count slowed yesterday, and today Pennsylvania’s counters appeared to take the day off. More likely though, is that counties are in to their problem ballots—creases that can’t be run through the machine, envelope or signature problems, cure issues. Normally Republican votes would be counted using the same rules but, alas for them, there are very few Republican votes left to count. But the votes take much longer to process now.

All of this could have been done before the election, but the Republican-controlled state legislature insisted it had to start on Election Day precisely to buy Trump time to pretend that the election had been stolen from him. They may not have anticipated, however, that Trump would send a clown like Corey Lewandowski to make Trump’s case. They were probably grateful Trump sent Ric Grenell to Nevada.1Where, it probably shouldn’t be lost on people, Trump has a 0% chance of victory, thus ensuring Grenell would have no meaningful impact on a material event. In any event, if I had to guess, many counties did a lot of this processing work today, and will run the processed ballots through the machine tomorrow.

But why does any of this matter? Why don’t they just call it? Well, most of the networks won’t call a race while the margin is within a state’s “automatic recount” range. They may be waiting to see whether Arizona falls into that range, but Pennsylvania’s law for automatic recount is any race within .5%. Well, the reported count for Pennsylvania still shows something like a .46% margin. Biden needs about 5,000 more net votes to reach .5%. The irony is that he is likely to win by a six-figure margin at the very least.

But when the gap reaches about 33,000, AP and the networks are likely to “call” the election. At that point, the television—the only thing Trump listens to other than Satan—will tell him on every channel, including Fox, that he’s lost.

Trump and his followers then have a choice. They can go the easy way, or the hard way. Until they decide, it’s very hard to make any hard conclusions about whether reconciliation is possible, if even desirable, with Trump followers. If we have to fight to make our votes count, we undoubtedly will. But make no mistake, easy or hard way, Joe Biden will take office on January 20, 2021. Congratulations America.

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