In a presidential race as close as this one, several factors come to mind leading to the result. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this campaign is the stark difference between the styles of the two major candidates. President Trump obviously waged a vigorous campaign, flying all over the country to multiple daily rallies drawing large crowds while Biden spent most of his time in his basement, venturing out only occasionally.
According to this, Trump should have won, but he did not. Roger Kimball asserts that Biden didn’t have to campaign because the media, pollsters and big tech did it for him (https://amgreatness.com/2020/11/05/sleepy-campaign-strategy-mystery-solved/). Kimball’s argument makes sense, and it limited exposure of Biden’s inability to articulate a coherent sentence without a teleprompter.
A recent Media Research Center headline reads “Never More Biased: TV Blasts Trump with 92% Negative Coverage; 66% Positive for Biden.” A popular example is that Trump’s assertions of widespread election fraud are baseless, but they are not baseless. There is evidence of fraud; the question is, is it enough to change the outcome of the election? Probably not, but the media think their ignorance equals nonexistence. They do not trouble themselves to investigate; the result might benefit Trump.
A prominent survey a few days before the election proclaimed that Biden was ahead by 10 points, the point being that voting for Trump was useless (https://www.wsj.com/articles/president-trump-trails-joe-biden-by-10-points-nationally-in-final-days-of-election-11604239200). The pollsters have been embarrassing themselves since the 1936 Literary Digest fiasco. Other classic polling failures are 1948 (“Dewey Defeats Truman”), 1996 and 2016. Their objective is not to anticipate the outcome but to influence the outcome.
A question not yet asked is what else do pollsters get wrong? We frequently read that a survey done by __________ reveals that ___________, which often is a crisis of dire proportions about which something must be done NOW. Likely as not, the survey was sponsored by an interest group that wants government money and the results will support its cause. This goes for “academic” or “scholarly” research as well.
Trump lost because four states he narrowly carried in 2016 similarly went for Biden this year. These were Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A fifth, Georgia, is undecided at this writing but leans toward Biden. Virtually nothing has been said about the Libertarian Party and its presidential candidate, Jo Jorgensen. Not surprisingly, Biden’s margin in these states was very small and, in all but Michigan, smaller than Jorgensen’s vote. If you assume her votes would have gone to Trump had she not run, and do the arithmetic, you will see that her vote added to Trump’s, exceeds Biden’s, thereby making Trump the winner with 271 electoral votes.
This is irony on stilts. Libertarians will never find a major party candidate as conservative as Trump, but for them he is not conservative enough. They, therefore, ran their own candidate and probably gave the election to a weak Democrat controlled by the radical left, the oldest person ever to be president who obviously is suffering from cognitive decline and who likely will not serve out his term, thereby putting a radical leftist in the White House. Ross Perot gave us the Clintons and now the Libertarians may have given us Kamala Harris.
Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal calls this the “Covid-19 Election” (Nov. 10, 2020), saying that “The coronavirus produced the two things that are the cause of the mess we’re in this week: a Trump vulnerability for Joe Biden to run on, and the mail-in voting fiasco.” Foreign policy and the economy were hardly mentioned during the campaign.
But the pandemic was mentioned, often, and Trump, with no specifics cited, was tagged with a failure of leadership. It matters not that COVID-19 blindsided everyone and that Obama, neither Clinton, nor Biden would have done any better. Add to this Trump’s abrasive personality, the relentless war waged against him by Congressional Democrats, the media, the academy and Hollywood, and Biden’s undistinguished record, and the pieces of the puzzle came together nicely.
While Donald Trump is indeed his own worst enemy, he got 8,510,928 more votes this year than in 2016. It is remarkable he did as well as he did, and his party certainly did well down the ticket. Trump has many supporters, but he also has many critics.
What did the people say? Some want change; some do not. Our great divide remains with us but sharper and deeper than ever. Leftists need to remember Tocqueville’s warning about tyranny of the majority.
Winfield H. Rose taught political science at Murray State University for 39 years and is now retired. He is active in the Calloway County GOP, but speaks here as an individual and not as a representative of either of these organizations. He can be reached at email@example.com.