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Showing posts with label Vox - All. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vox - All. Show all posts

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Kamala Harris: “I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won’t be the last.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7. | Andrew Harnik/AP

Kamala Harris’s acceptance speech is historic.

Kamala Harris just made history in her speech as the first woman to be elected vice president of the United States.

“America’s democracy is not guaranteed. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it,” Harris declared. Dressed in a suffragette white suit and a (possibly pointed) pussy-bow blouse, Harris thanked all the poll workers and elected officials who worked on this week’s long election, saying, “You have protected the integrity of our democracy.”

Harris, who is also the first Black person and first South Asian elected vice president, spoke of the women who have “paved the way for this moment tonight,” sparing particular attention for “the Black women who are too often overlooked, but so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.” She added that she wanted to prove to all children watching that America “is a country of possibilities.” For that reason, she declared, “I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won’t be the last.”

Read a rough transcript of the full speech below.


Good evening. Thank you. Thank you. Good evening. [Cheers and applause]

So Congressman John Lewis, before his passing, wrote, “Democracy is not a state, it is an act.” What he meant was America’s democracy is not guaranteed. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.

To guard it and never take it for granted. And protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it. And there is progress, because we the people have the power to build a better future.

And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.

Through — your campaign staff and volunteers, this extraordinary team, thank you for bringing more people than ever before into the democratic process.

And for making this victory possible, to the poll workers and election officials across our country who have worked tirelessly to make sure every vote is counted, our nation owes you a debt of gratitude.

You have protected the integrity of our democracy. And to the American people who make up our beautiful country, thank you for turning out in record numbers to make your voices heard.

And I know times have been challenging, especially the last several months. The grief, sorrow, and pain. The worries and the struggles. But we have also witnessed your courage, your resilience, and the generosity of your spirit. For four years, you marched and organized for equality and justice, for our lives, and for our planet. And then, you voted.

And you delivered a clear message. You chose hope and unity, decency, science, and yes, truth.

You chose Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America. And Joe is a healer, a uniter, a tested and steady hand. A person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us as a nation reclaim our own sense of purpose. And a man with a big heart who loves with abandon. It is his love for Jill, who will be an incredible first lady —

It is his love for Hunter, Ashley, and his grandchildren and the entire Biden family. And while I first knew Joe as vice president, I really got to know him as the father who loved Beau. My dear friend, who we remember here today. And to my husband Doug — And our children and my sister and our whole family, I love y’all more than I can ever express.

We are so grateful to Joe and Jill for welcoming our family into theirs on this incredible journey.

And to the woman most responsible for my presence here today, my mother, who is always in our hearts. When she came here from India at the age of 19, she did not quite imagine this moment, but she believes so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible. So I am thinking about her and the generations of women, black women — Asian, white, Latina, Native American women who surround our nation — who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all.

Including the black women who are too often overlooked, but so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy. All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century. 100 years ago was the 19th amendment. 55 years ago was the voting rights act. And now in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continue to fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight I reflect on their struggle, their determination, and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders.

And what a testament it is to Joe’s character that he has the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exists in our country and select a woman as his vice president. While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.

Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message, dream with ambition. Lead with conviction.

See yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they have never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.

And to the American people, no matter who you voted for, I will strive to be a vice president, like Joe was to president Obama — loyal, honest, and prepared. Waking up every day thinking of you and your family. Because now is when the real work begins. The hard work. The necessary work. The good work. The essential work to save lives and beat this epidemic. To rebuild our economy so it works for working people. To root out systemic racism in our social justice system and society. To combat the climate crisis. To unite our country and heal the soul of our nation.

And the road ahead will not be easy, but America is ready. And so are Joe and I.

We have elected a president who represents the best in us. A leader the world will respect and our children will look up to. A commander-in-chief who will respect our troops and keep our country safe, as a president for all Americans.

And it is now my great honor to introduce the president-elect of the United States of America, Joe Biden!



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Friday, November 6, 2020

Why networks haven’t yet called Pennsylvania for Biden

MSNBC host Steve Kornacki on March 4. | Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Biden’s lead has been expanding. But only one election analyst group has called the race.

The major news outlets have not yet called Pennsylvania — the state that would give Joe Biden the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the presidency — as of 7:40 pm Eastern.

Biden took the lead from President Trump in the Pennsylvania count Friday morning, and soon afterward, Vox’s election-calling partner, Decision Desk, called the state for Biden. But the other major elections-calling outfits — NBC News, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, CNN, the Associated Press, Reuters, and the New York Times — have not yet done the same.

As I wrote Friday morning, Decision Desk called Pennsylvania for Biden because their assessment of the votes that remain to be counted — how many there are, where they’re coming from, what type of votes they are, and how similar votes have broken down previously — is that the remaining votes will favor Biden strongly. They anticipate Biden’s current lead of about 19,400 votes, a 0.29 percent margin, will expand as the count continues. (Indeed, it has already expanded significantly through the day Friday — it was at about 6,500 votes when Decision Desk called the race.)

That expectation is shared by many election wonks. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver tweeted that the outcome in Pennsylvania is “obvious,” the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman tweeted Friday that there’s “little reason” to think Biden’s Pennsylvania lead won’t hold up, and the New York Times’s Nate Cohn wrote that “it seems just a matter of time before the race in Pennsylvania is put out of reach” for Trump. However, none of the news outlets these analysts are working with — ABC for Silver, NBC for Wasserman, and the New York Times for Cohn — have called Pennsylvania yet.

Why not?

The Kornacki case

It’s possible that most or all of these outlets are close to calling Pennsylvania, but Biden’s lead is just a bit too small at this point for them to feel comfortable doing so. They may be waiting for Biden’s margin of 0.29 percent of the vote to rise above 0.5 percent — the threshold that would no longer mean a mandatory recount — before calling the race. The Pennsylvania vote count has been agonizingly slow, so it may just be taking a while to get there.

A broader issue here is that it would be extra-embarrassing to incorrectly call the state that decides the presidential race, so even small levels of remaining uncertainty may make the networks gun-shy.

But MSNBC host Steve Kornacki laid out a more extensive case that there’s some real uncertainty remaining Friday afternoon:

Kornacki’s argument is as follows:

  • Biden’s lead is currently small — when he spoke it sat at 14,000 votes, a mere 0.21 percent margin, though it has since expanded — and the count is not done.
  • The remaining tens of thousands of mail ballots to be counted will heavily favor Biden. But there’s some uncertainty about exactly how many of them will end up being counted — some could be rejected. So it may not pad his lead by as much as some expect.
  • Most importantly, Kornacki said, there are reportedly around 100,000 provisional ballots out there in Pennsylvania that add uncertainty to this whole situation.

Provisional ballots are ballots cast when there’s some question about whether someone is truly eligible to vote, or some problem with the ballot itself. Most of them have not yet been counted, and elections officials will eventually have to decide whether to accept or reject them.

The traditional assumption has been that provisional ballots tend to favor Democrats. But, Kornacki asked, what if this time they don’t, due to various technicalities associated with the partisan polarization of mail balloting? Kornacki pointed out that a few Republican-friendly places have counted their provisional ballots already, and that they favored Trump.

Note that Kornacki did not say he thinks the larger universe of 100,000 provisional ballots will favor Trump. He is just saying that he would prefer to see more of them counted to feel totally confident about what’s going on with them.

So what is up with those provisional ballots?

But other analysts do not think it’s at all likely that the Pennsylvania provisional ballots will give Trump back his lead, and that’s for a few reasons.

First off, provisional ballots are provisional — some of them will be counted and some won’t. Only the ones that actually count will matter, and that will be less than the overall number that were cast.

Second, Kornacki emphasized that Trump was doing well in provisional ballots in Trump-friendly counties. But as Wasserman points out, Trump’s performance in these provisional ballots was not really much different from his overall performance in these counties.

This matters because there were also many provisional ballots cast in Democratic-friendly areas — we don’t have an exact tally from every county yet, but Philadelphia, Allegheny County, and other areas where Biden has performed very well will make up a large share of the overall total. If the provisional ballot vote largely resembles the rest of the vote in these areas, then it’s Biden who will pick up votes here — a lot of them.

To even make up his current 19,000-vote deficit, Trump would need to win the overall universe of approved provisional ballots across the state handily. And remember, Biden’s lead is expected to grow as tens of thousands more mail votes in Democratic areas are counted. The more Biden’s lead grows, the better Trump would have to do in approved provisional ballots to make up the gap.

Those pushing for a quicker call think the scenario of Trump utterly dominating provisional ballots statewide is fanciful. But Kornacki is essentially saying, it’s a weird year, it’s a small margin, and with so many potential ballots outstanding, it can’t hurt to wait a bit longer and get a bit more information. And we will see how much longer that wait will take.



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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Claire McCaskill’s MSNBC comments revive a tired argument over the Democratic Party’s future

The Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards 2019 Claire McCaskill attends the Common Good Forum & American Spirit Awards 2019. | Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

We’re going to argue about “pocketbook issues” versus “social issues” again, it would seem.

So Claire McCaskill, a former senator from Missouri, said some bullshit on MSNBC last night.

I probably shouldn’t start this article that way. I should probably start with something like: “In the wake of a better-than-expected election performance by Republicans and President Donald Trump, Democrats are wondering just what path to take to ensure better performance for their candidates in the future, even as former Vice President Joe Biden looks likely to win the presidency. Republicans’ built-in advantage in the Electoral College continues to be a massive headache for the Democratic Party (which has now won the popular vote in seven of the past eight elections). But a schism the party perpetually faces in the eyes of pundits who informally advise the party is whether it needs to refocus on so-called pocketbook issues over social issues like LGBTQ rights and abortion rights.”

Then I should say something like, “On MSNBC Wednesday night, after anchor Brian Williams asked former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill what her party could do to appeal more to blue-collar voters, she offered an answer that played exactly into this line of punditry”:

Around cultural issues, the Republican Party, I think, very adroitly adopted cultural issues as part of their main theme. Whether you’re talking guns or issues surrounding the right to abortion in this country or things like gay marriage and the right for transsexuals and other people who we as a party have tried to look after and make sure that they’re treated fairly.

As we circle those issues, we’ve left some voters behind, and Republicans dove in with a vengeance and grabbed those voters. You’ve seen this shift. You see it in the South. I see it in the rural areas of my state. So we’ve gotta get back to the meat-and-potatoes issues. We’ve gotta get back to the issues where we are taking care of their families, and we’ve gotta stop acting like we’re smarter than everybody else. Because we’re not.

Then I should embed the video clip, which I would do anyway, so here it is:

But, as mentioned in my actual lead paragraphs, this framing of the choice the Democratic Party faces as being between economic issues and social issues is some bullshit, and it keeps coming up. (See here and here and here and here and here. And that’s just for LGBTQ issues. You could find even more if you went looking for similar articles on, say, abortion rights.)

Here I should note that McCaskill apologized on Twitter this morning, particularly for using the term “transsexuals,” which should be replaced by “trans people” or “transgender people” in statements that seek to turn us into a monolith for one reason or another.

Briefly: Transsexual is an outdated term that is still used by some trans people to describe themselves on an individual basis but that should be replaced with “trans people” in almost all instances when referring to us as a group. And regardless, it should be used with great care by a cisgender person, unless it’s referring to a specific person who you know prefers to use the term. McCaskill’s use of the term, apology notwithstanding, suggests to me she’s very detached from this conversation.

What’s more, the ways Democratic pundits and candidates too often stumble over trans nomenclature plays into a larger fear many in the trans community have that the Democratic Party wouldn’t hesitate to cut us out of its policies if it meant passing, say, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, because that literally happened. Even Kamala Harris, the current vice presidential nominee, has a problematic past when it comes to trans issues.

From her apology, it seems clear McCaskill genuinely believes the Democratic Party can make room for trans people and rural voters, and that her larger point was that the Democratic Party should combat Republican demagoguery on social issues by pointing to its economic positions. That she seemed to play into a framing that harms trans people was likely an accident. She was on cable TV. It was late. She just glossed over her larger points.

But the fact that she jumped to this particular framing in answering Williams’s question underlines how ubiquitous that framing has been for the party throughout the 21st century. (Remember Howard Dean getting in trouble for saying he wanted to be the candidate of “guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks” in 2003?) And even though the party increasingly seems to include LGBTQ rights as a fairly mainstream part of its platform, pundits continue to advise reconsidering this in the hopes of reaching some mythical blue-collar voter who could be persuaded to vote Democratic by the party’s economic policies if the party just sacrificed the “right” social issues.

But as the National Women’s Law Center’s Gillian Branstetter points out, the only people who’ve clearly lost elections for being particularly interested in trans people are Republicans:

Any framing that presents choices on social issues as either-or is a false choice, I think. So-called bathroom bills — which seek to ban trans people from using bathrooms congruent with their genders — were largely a Republican Party invention to attempt to paint Democrats as being “for” trans people in bathrooms. (Yes, we use bathrooms.) Yet bathroom bills haven’t been particularly popular, and indeed, North Carolina’s bill ended up backfiring massively for the state.

That framing also creates a false conclusion that there are, say, no working-class people who are trans or who require an abortion. I don’t even need to link to data to prove to you that there are working-class trans people and working-class people who have had abortions, because those statements are obviously true on their face.

So who, exactly, is supposed to be appeased by the idea of, say, the Democratic Party performatively tossing trans people out of the coalition? And how will doing that not suggest that Democrats will cave on a whole bunch of other social issues in the name of chasing some mythical white guy in a pickup truck who would vote for Democrats if they just stopped reminding him LGBTQ people exist? Considering the rates at which Republicans backed Donald Trump in this election, I’m not holding my breath.

The Democratic Party has been the “big tent” party for decades now, and the problem with having a big tent is that you have a whole bunch of people underneath it who often have different ideas they hold as particularly important. But that’s also what makes the Democratic Party so big that it has, again, won the popular vote in seven of the past eight elections.

When the party boasts increased energy on its leftward flank, particularly from younger voters, who tend to be more supportive of LGBTQ rights, it feels very silly to revisit the “Well, if you just did this and this and this, it would appease this extremely narrow slice of voters in Pennsylvania.” But why is that the assumption so many pundits (especially those associated with the Democratic establishment) leap to, instead of the assumption that pushing people out of the big tent would make the tent smaller?

So anyway, Claire McCaskill, probably accidentally, said some bullshit that played into a very old schism the Democratic Party itself seems to have moved past. I hope the argument over “pocketbook issues” versus “social issues” doesn’t consume Democratic punditry or even the Democratic Party itself, particularly if — as seems increasingly likely — Joe Biden were to win the election.



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Vox live results: Joe Biden’s path to victory widens

Amanda Northrop/Vox

Follow live results for the race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

A clearer picture of the results of the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is slowly coming into view, days after Election Day.

Trump racked up early victories in Florida, Ohio, and Iowa. But Biden appears to have more paths to 270 Electoral College votes than the president does: He has won two Midwest states that are likely to prove pivotal, Michigan and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, is still counting, and could seal Biden’s victory.

There are other positive signs for Biden: He is ahead in Nevada and Arizona, although the race has tightened in Arizona. And as of Thursday evening, Biden is very close to potentially overtaking Trump in Georgia as the final votes are tallied. A win in two of these states would make him the next president, even without Pennsylvania.

Based on this outlook, Biden has projected optimism, saying on Thursday, “We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Sen. Harris and I will be declared the winners.”

Trump, however, has falsely claimed victory and sought to stop vote counting. He says he will take the matter to the Supreme Court, promising again to do so in a Thursday evening speech.

Of course, continuing to count outstanding votes is a legal and necessary part of the process. Nevertheless, he spent much of Wednesday and Thursday tweeting attacks against election officials in swing states who’ve stated commitments to continuing the count, as well sharing conspiracy theories about improper ballot processing.

That vote counting is taking some time shouldn’t be surprising: Because of the myriad ways people have cast their ballots this year, it was expected that tallying votes could take longer. This was partly because far more votes were cast by mail than in past years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s also because there are simply more votes to count: Some estimates suggest 2020 voters may have had the highest participation in 120 years.

There’s no guarantee when we’ll know whether Trump or Biden won the election, but we should have a clearer picture by the end of the day Thursday. Meanwhile, you can track live results here, powered by our friends at Decision Desk.

Vox also has results pages for some key swing states: Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Georgia.

You can follow Senate live results here and House live results here. Finally, here’s how Vox (and other media outlets) will be making calls.

How long could it take for us to know who won the election?

It’s tough to know, but it’s good to prepare for the possibility that we may not know the result for a little while longer. Here’s why:

There are six main battleground states whose voters will likely determine the outcome of the election: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop recently wrote, these states can be split into two groups — states that were expected to be able to count the vote quickly, and states where it was thought it could take much longer to know the outcome.

Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina fall into the first category. (Florida and Arizona, in particular, have used vote-by-mail extensively in the past and officials there are familiar with how the system works.) We already know the results from Florida, which was called relatively early for Trump on Tuesday. Arizona’s results aren’t fully in yet, and we may not know the results from North Carolina until next week, as they still have mail-in ballots to count.

In Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Republican state legislatures in all three refused to let election officials start processing ballots early (it should be noted that this isn’t a partisan issue everywhere, since Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina also have state legislatures controlled by Republicans). Because of this, counting was expected to take some time. Michigan and Wisconsin essentially finished their counts on Wednesday, but Pennsylvania still has many more votes to count.

In Wisconsin, Biden’s victory was by a relatively thin margin. The Trump campaign has announced it will request a recount (as it can do under the state law), but recent recounts have not shifted the result much. The Trump campaign is also suing to attempt to stop vote counting in Pennsylvania, and to let Republican observers watch over the count.

In the remaining swing states, there is a possibility in-person voting is making it appear a closer race for Trump than final totals will reflect. It’s good to keep in mind that it could take many hours — if not days — to count mail-in ballots and get the full picture of who has won.

Counting all the votes is not fraud

Heading into the election, it was pretty clear that President Trump was poised to engage in some shenanigans to try to cast doubt on any potential unfavorable outcomes to him, and even potentially falsely claim he’d won. And that’s what he did.

In remarks early Wednesday, Trump said he’d already won in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, even though those states have not yet been called. He said the election reflected “major fraud in our nation.”

Twitter and Facebook wound up having to label his false claims that the election is being “stolen” and that no votes can be counted after the polls close. The Trump campaign’s lawsuits in multiple states are a continuation of this rhetoric.

To be clear, there is not widespread election fraud going on, nor is the election being stolen from the president. Candidates cannot claim states for themselves, as Trump suggested in a Wednesday tweet. States are just counting the votes, as they are legally obligated to do.

This isn’t to say that Trump still can’t win the presidency, or that Biden can’t. Obviously, it would be nice to have more clarity on the outcome right now. But we don’t, so we have to wait.



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TV absolutely has to get rid of “election night”

Wolf Blitzer in front of a graphic of Joe Biden and Donald Trump on election night Wolf Blitzer announces CNN’s election night coverage. | CNN

The election is in an anxiety-inducing holding pattern, and TV doesn’t know what to do.

“What are we doing?” Stephen Colbert kept asking his producer as his 2020 election special on Showtime wound its way toward a chaotic conclusion.

In 2016, the late-night host’s live election special had felt a little like a wake for America as Colbert attempted to cope in real time with a country that had voted by a slim majority to elect Donald Trump as its commander in chief. It was surprisingly electrifying television. His 2020 special — which aired while America waited for votes to be counted, with no immediate end in sight — was much less electrifying.

Colbert was already filming in the midst of a pandemic, a performer who’s at his best when he has other people to play off of interacting only with a handful of people in the studio (most notably his wife, sitting off to his side) and then a variety of guests beamed in via videoconferencing software. Though he’s gotten very good at doing his show without a live audience laughing for every joke, the rhythms of an episode of late-night TV produced with Covid-19 safety protocols in place will always feel a little awkward.

But a newly revealed and even bigger challenge is that the era of live late-night election specials has largely been confined to the Obama and Trump administrations. The results of both Obama elections were known or almost certain by the time those specials launched in the 11 pm hour on the East Coast, and the 2016 election was clearly tilting toward Trump (if not over yet) by the time Colbert’s special aired. In 2020, the fact that results were going to be delayed — something that all of America had been conditioned to expect — didn’t really matter. The show had to go on because that’s what shows like this do.

TV abhors a vacuum, but the 2020 election, especially, occurred in a vacuum. Even once all of the votes are counted, the urge to fill hours and hours of airtime on election night and beyond will linger with viewers who thought they needed information and instead got a steady dose of anxiety.

This week’s nonstop coverage of the vote count has only served to underscore that election TV — both in late-night and on cable news — has long been broken. Maybe it should go away forever.

Cable news just isn’t equipped for an election whose results aren’t immediately clear

Wolf Blitzer in front of a graphic of Joe Biden and Donald Trump on election night CNN
Wolf Blitzer introduces CNN’s election night coverage.

For weeks now, Americans have known one thing about the 2020 election: We probably wouldn’t know official results for days or even weeks after Election Day because holding an election in a pandemic means lots of votes arriving via mail, and some states wouldn’t count mail-in ballots until polls had closed.

But even if that simple likelihood hadn’t been discussed over and over and over again by politicians and pundits (here’s Bernie Sanders talking about it), a quick glance at recent history could have guided our expectations regarding when we’d find out who won. Of the five presidential elections of the 21st century before the 2020 election, only two — 2008 and 2012 — were called before midnight on the East Coast, and the 2000 election dragged on for over a month.

Even extremely recent history — which is to say, the 2018 midterms — took weeks to fully understand, particularly when it came to the extent of Democratic gains in the House.

It’s true that many elections of the TV era — roughly 1952 on — were called well before midnight on the East Coast. But those elections took place in a less polarized time, where landslide wins were much more common. In the 21st century, the ossification of Democrats’ and Republicans’ respective bases has led to electoral maps that largely look the same, with minor variations, in election after election after election.

And yet to watch TV coverage on election night — not to mention social media reactions to said TV coverage — was to watch a full-blown meltdown over the fact that nobody really knew anything yet, something that continued to play out across Wednesday and Thursday as all involved waited for official vote counts. In the case of Democrats, much of that meltdown was driven by Trump’s stronger-than-expected performance in Florida, a mirror of 2018 when Democrats’ early hopes seemed to have foundered on the shores of the Sunshine State before the overall picture ended up far rosier for the party.

As of Thursday afternoon, an official winner still hasn’t been declared (though it seems likely that Joe Biden has won the presidency), and 24-hour cable news is still focused solely on the dribs and drabs of information seeping in from the handful of outstanding battleground states as the vote count crawls forward in Pennsylvania and Georgia, in Arizona and Nevada. Every once in a great while, a quick burst of information about the latest Covid-19 numbers will break through, but otherwise, it’s all election all the time. (The Covid-19 numbers have been bad! I don’t know if you’ve heard!)

The election results have largely been in the same holding pattern since midday on Wednesday when Michigan and Wisconsin were called for Biden, making his path to victory easier to see. So the cable news just keeps repeating the same information, even as MSNBC’s poor Steve Kornacki (the guy who does the network’s vote breakdowns on a giant map) looks as though he’s slept for maybe a half-hour since Tuesday.

A frequent narrative told about American presidential elections is that each successive one is “the most important of our lifetimes.” I think there’s truth to that during this period when Democrats and Republicans have such divergent visions of what America might look like. But the fashion in which cable news treats each presidential election like it is the only piece of news in a given year has created a uniquely terrible recipe that undervalues actual useful information and overvalues anything that might produce anxiety and/or dopamine hits.

As such, cable news faces the same dilemma that Stephen Colbert did on Tuesday night: It simply doesn’t know what to do with an election that occurs over several days, not several hours. You never know when the development that changes everything might arrive, so keep watching! Tuning in feels like clinging to a constantly unraveling rope, building and building and building tension without ever breaking. By the time a winner is finally declared, we’ll all be wiped out.

The “just keep talking until we know something” approach underserves viewers and creates endless amounts of anxiety

One of the biggest flaws of 24/7 cable news coverage in this moment is that it largely obscures the actual story of the election. And all week long, it has poked at what basically everybody knew would be the story going in. Counting the votes would take a while. We wouldn’t have results for a few days. But the demand for more, more, more led to a long election night and then, after the election, long days of single tea leaves being extrapolated into an entire plant without much thought given to how that approach might sway public opinion or how it might fail viewers.

For instance: Several networks — CNN in particular — used a light shade of pink to indicate states where Trump was leading but that hadn’t yet been called, and a light shade of blue to indicate states where Biden was leading but that hadn’t yet been called. And Trump was leading in, say, Michigan and Wisconsin on Tuesday night, and held that lead until the states’ largest urban centers were counted on Wednesday morning. For as long as it lasted, the pink hue of those states created unwarranted anxiety in Democratic viewers and unwarranted optimism in Republican viewers.

This is not a new complaint about cable news. On the whole, cable news is empty and sensationalistic, and it provides little information that is actually necessary except in situations where a story is truly unfolding at a rapid clip. (The terrorist attacks of September 11 are the most obvious example.)

But ongoing coverage of the 2020 election has highlighted just how little information there was to share in the immediate aftermath of the polls closing, and it has heightened the ultimate uselessness of increasingly vague talking heads waiting for something like real data.

The way the American media covers elections seems so deeply entrenched as to be unchangeable, but 2020 shows just how badly we need to rethink how television reports on them. The UK’s laws on how an election can be covered (which ban coverage while polls are open) might be a good starting point for finding workable reforms. There has to be a better way. By 2024, let’s hope we’ve found one.



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Why Georgia was so competitive for Democrats this year

Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron speaks to reporters about the ballot count in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 4. | Brynn Anderson/AP

How Georgia became a swing state in 2020.

Georgia could be on track to vote for its first Democratic presidential candidate since 1992. With about 98 percent of the vote counted Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden is only about 0.07 percentage points behind President Donald Trump — and the remaining ballots are expected to favor the Democrat.

It’s striking that this traditionally conservative state appears poised to elect Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, but the result is also notable given the state will be the site of two competitive runoff elections — featuring Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock — that could decide which party controls the US Senate.

It’s also a result that defies conventional wisdom.

About a month ago, I talked to Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who predicted that even with the rapid demographic change taking place in reliably Republican-leaning Sun Belt states, it would take at least one more political cycle to turn Texas and Georgia into true swing states.

Ayres’s prediction turned out to be true for Texas, where Republicans had a good night on Tuesday. But it seems there could be a surprising result in Georgia.

 John Bazemore/AP
Supporters of President Trump demonstrate outside the State Farm Arena, where Fulton County has its vote-counting operation, on November 5.
 John Bazemore/AP
Democratic and Republican representatives review absentee ballots at the Fulton County Election preparation Center in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 4.

A traditionally Republican Southern state, Georgia has been growing more competitive for Democrats year after year, buoyed by the growing Atlanta metro area. Just 5 percentage points — or about 211,000 votes — separated Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 election. In 2018, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams came within less than 55,000 votes of winning the governor’s mansion.

There’s a simple explanation, according to University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock, a Georgia politics expert: In Georgia, there are conservative rural voters and there more diverse Democratic urban and suburban voters, who are becoming more reliably Democratic with time.

“Urban areas are growing, and as they grow, Democrats inch closer and closer to getting 50 percent,” Bullock said.

The political influence of Atlanta’s suburbs, explained

The pockets of blue visible below on Georgia’s 2020 electoral map are around its major cities of Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, and Augusta. But political observers say there’s no question Atlanta wields the most political power.

There are 10 suburban counties in the metro Atlanta area that are all blue.

A map of Georgia divided by county; most of the counties are shaded red, but there are four clusters of blue in the counties surrounding Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus, and Augusta. Vox/Decision Desk

Some of these counties are where much of the outstanding vote in 2020 is concentrated; they’re a large part of the reason Biden is doing so well, and why Senate Democratic candidates also had relatively good nights in Georgia.

“Counties and suburbs of Atlanta are moving at light speed away from Republicans,” said Cook Political Report Senate editor Jessica Taylor, who rated both Georgia races as toss-ups. “Trump has accelerated a more natural evolution, but that has made it hard.”

Atlanta’s diversifying suburbs were already worrisome for Republicans before 2020, but they appear to be the epicenter of Democratic strength this year. The GOP is also watching as existing trends are being hastened by a combination of white suburban voters moving away from Trump and increased turnout among Black voters.

The metro Atlanta area is booming, and a lot of people moving there are young and diverse. Increasingly, they’re voting Democratic.

Analysis of the Black youth vote from Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement found that 90 percent of Black voters ages 18 to 29 cast ballots for Biden in Georgia, compared to just 33 percent of young white voters in that state. The center also found that Biden did significantly better in Georgia counties with a higher concentration of young Black voters.

Between 2010 and 2019, the area’s population shot up from about 5.3 million people to over 6 million, according to data from the US Census, reported by Curbed. That growth put the Atlanta metro area fourth in growth nationwide, behind Houston and Dallas, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona (Senate seats in Texas and Arizona were also considered Democratic targets this year).

 Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate for Georgia Senate, and Stacey Abrams campaign on November 3. Abrams’s group Fair Fight and other voting rights groups have been putting a lot of effort into registering Black voters at high rates this year.

“Every area in metro Atlanta is growing,” state Rep. Angelika Kausche, a Democrat, recently told Vox. “People come here for the education, for the schools, for the quality of life.” That has brought legions of diverse, younger voters to Atlanta’s metro area. As the New York Times recently reported, “white residents now make up fewer than three in five voters in Georgia.”

Abrams’s group Fair Fight and other voting rights groups like the New Georgia Project have been putting a ton of effort into registering and turning out Black voters at high rates this year. And those efforts have been successful. The state has already hit record registration levels, with about 7.6 million voters registered. And since early voting started, more than 2.7 million voters have cast ballots — at least 1 million of whom were Black.

Those results are a reminder, as Abrams told Vox in a recent email interview, that “Georgia has by far the largest percentage of Black voters of any battleground state.”

“We’re going to have record turnout,” Abrams told Vox. “There is tremendous enthusiasm, particularly on the Democratic side, and Black voters and voters of color writ large have been hit hard by the pandemic and economic crises that Donald Trump has so badly mishandled.”

Georgia will take center stage in national politics for the next few months

All eyes — and fundraising dollars — are about to shift to Georgia for the next two months.

It’s now increasingly likely that both of Georgia’s Senate races will go to a runoff election, set for January 5, 2021. With votes still to be counted in Georgia, particularly in the Democratic-leaning Atlanta suburbs, it Republican Sen. David Perdue has not hit the 50 percent threshold he needed to avoid a runoff race with Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The prolonged Ossoff/Perdue matchup will be runoff No. 2 for Georgia voters. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock are also headed to a runoff in the special election for a Senate seat vacated in 2019 by retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson. That special election initially featured 20 candidates in an all-party “jungle primary,” and with the vote set to be split between so many candidates, it was all but guaranteed it would go to a runoff.

 Justin Sullivan; Jessica McGowan; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call; Paras Griffin via Getty Images
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Sen. David Perdue, and Jon Ossoff.

The runoffs are a direct result of population growth — particularly amid the influx to the Atlanta suburbs, political observers in Georgia have been watching elections get closer and closer. The 2018 governor’s race, for example, was a scare for Georgia Republicans. And Georgia provided congressional Democrats some good news during an otherwise dismal night; House Democrats appear to be on track to flip the state’s Seventh Congressional District, and the potential runoffs are the only ray of hope Senate Democrats have left to win back a majority.

That said, the Senate runoffs could become difficult for Democrats: The party’s strategy in Southern states like Georgia has generally involved harnessing the large voter turnout that typically accompanies presidential elections. It could be hard for the candidates to muster the same level of enthusiasm for these runoff elections, a difficulty that has often given Republicans the edge in past years.

“We haven’t had many general election runoffs. The one constant has been Republicans won all of them,” Bullock told Vox. “Republicans have done a better job of getting their voters back to the polls.”

But, he added: “There being two high-profile runoffs this year may help Democrats get their voters out.”



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The future of the Senate majority could hinge on two Georgia runoffs 

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Rev. Raphael Warnock, Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff. | Justin Sullivan; Jessica McGowan; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call; Paras Griffin via Getty Images

It will take about two more months to know which party controls the Senate.

The battle for control of the US Senate could come down to Georgia.

Both of Georgia’s Senate races will go to a runoff election to be held on January 5, 2021. With a small number of votes still to be counted in Georgia, particularly in the Democratic-leaning Atlanta suburbs, Republican Sen. David Perdue did not hit the 50 percent threshold he needed to avoid a runoff race with Democrat Jon Ossoff.

As of 7 pm ET on November 5, Perdue was sitting at 49.89 percent, compared to 47.80 percent for Ossoff, according to Decision Desk.

That’s runoff No. 2 for Georgia voters. That result has already been determined for the race between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock in the special election for a Senate seat vacated in 2019 by retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson. That special election initially featured 20 candidates in an all-party “jungle primary,” so a runoff was all but guaranteed.

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler speaks to her supporters in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 3.
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Rev. Raphael Warnock arrives at his campaign’s election night event in Atlanta on November 3.

At first glance, this might be a surprise for national political observers. Georgia has a long history of being conservative. Even though it has elected statewide Democrats more recently than some of its Southern peers, they were often conservative white Democratic men.

But Georgia has the potential to flip for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, and now they have a shot at not one but two Democrats making competitive runs for the Senate.

“Democrats are going to be very excited in Georgia but also nationally,” University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock told Vox. “Ossoff and Warnock, any kind of resource or help they need, they’re going to get.”

Senate Democrats are still a few seats short of a Senate majority, but the fact that both Senate races in Georgia will go to a runoff means the battle for control of the Senate is not over just yet.

All eyes — and all fundraising dollars — are about to shift to Georgia for the next two months.

Why Georgia is so competitive this year

A traditionally Republican Southern state, Georgia has become more competitive for Democrats year after year.

“Counties and suburbs of Atlanta are moving at light speed away from Republicans,” said Cook Political Report Senate editor Jessica Taylor, who rates both Georgia races as toss-ups. “Trump has accelerated a more natural evolution, but that has made it hard.”

Atlanta’s diversifying suburbs were already worrisome for Republicans before 2020, but they appear to be the epicenter of Democratic strength this year. The GOP is also watching as existing trends are being hastened by a combination of white suburban voters moving away from Trump and increased turnout among Black voters.

The metro Atlanta area is booming, and a lot of people moving there are young and diverse. Increasingly, they’re voting Democratic.

Between 2010 and 2019, the area’s population grew from about 5.3 million people to more than 6 million, according to data from the US Census Bureau, reported by Curbed. That growth put the Atlanta metro area fourth in growth nationwide, behind Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix (Senate seats in Texas and Arizona were also considered Democratic targets this year).

“Every area in metro Atlanta is growing,” state Rep. Angelika Kausche, a Democrat, recently told Vox. “People come here for the education, for the schools, for the quality of life.” That has brought legions of diverse, younger voters to Atlanta’s metro area.

As the New York Times recently reported, “white residents now make up fewer than three in five voters in Georgia, and a wave of migration to the Atlanta area over the past decade has added roughly three quarters of a million people to the state’s major Democratic stronghold.”

Amid the influx to the Atlanta suburbs, political observers in Georgia have been watching elections get closer and closer. In the 2018 governor’s race, Democrat Stacey Abrams lost to then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp by a little more than 50,000 votes — a scare for Georgia Republicans. Still, Perdue’s campaign believes the Republican’s ability to draw more votes will boost him in the runoff.

“Perdue will finish this election in first place with substantially more votes than his Democrat opponent,” Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry said. “Currently, Perdue’s lead is double the margin of defeat that Stacey Abrams faced for governor just two years ago.”

 John Bazemore/AP
Sen. David Perdue speaks to supporters in Atlanta on November 2.
 Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Jon Ossoff waves to supporters on November 3 in Atlanta.

The runoff could prove difficult for Democrats to win; the party’s strategy in Southern states like Georgia involved harnessing the large voter turnout that typically accompanies presidential elections. It could be hard for the candidates to muster the same level of enthusiasm for these runoff elections, which has often given Republicans the edge in past years.

“We haven’t had many general runoffs. The one constant has been Republicans won all of them,” Bullock told Vox. “Republicans have done a better job of getting their voters back to the polls.”

But, he added, “There being two high-profile runoffs, this may help Democrats get their voters out.”

Abrams’s group Fair Fight and other voting rights groups like the New Georgia Project have been putting a ton of effort into registering and turning out Black voters at high rates this year. The state has already hit record registration levels, with about 7.6 million voters registered. And since early voting started, more than 2.7 million voters have cast ballots — at least 1 million of whom were Black.

“Georgia has by far the largest percentage of Black voters of any battleground state,” Abrams told Vox in a recent email interview.

Where the battle for control of the Senate stands

Georgia represents the narrowest of paths for Democrats to flip the Senate, and it could still be a tricky feat to pull off.

The North Carolina Senate race between Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham has also not been called and likely won’t be before November 12, which is the final date for mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received in that state. Votes are also still being counted in the Republican-leaning state of Alaska, which also has a contested Senate race (albeit one that Republicans are favored to win).

Democrats needed a net gain of three seats to flip the Senate to blue if Biden wins, which is looking more likely. The race for the Senate came down to 10 or so competitive races, but Republican incumbents won the vast majority of them.

As expected, Democrats lost Sen. Doug Jones’s seat in Alabama and flipped a Republican seat in Colorado. Democrats hung on to vulnerable incumbent Gary Peters’s seat in Michigan and are expected to flip another seat in Arizona, although Vox’s partner Decision Desk hasn’t yet called that race. Longtime Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) won her race for reelection, a major blow to Democrats’ hopes of flipping the majority.

 Megan Varner/Getty Images
Georgia represents the narrowest of paths for Democrats to flip the Senate; it could be a very tricky feat to pull off.

Democrats can afford to lose North Carolina only if they flip both Georgia seats. But it’s worth repeating just how tough this could be. Throughout the year, Democrats saw North Carolina as more competitive for them than Georgia. Even though Perdue hasn’t avoided a runoff, he has more votes than Ossoff. And runoff elections historically have been worse for Democrats because turnout will likely be lower than a high-turnout presidential election.

“If overtime is required when all of the votes have been counted, we’re ready, and we will win,” Perdue campaign manager Fry said in a statement.

Ossoff’s campaign also released a defiant statement on Thursday.

“The votes are still being counted, but we are confident that Jon Ossoff’s historic performance in Georgia has forced Senator David Perdue to continue defending his indefensible record of unemployment, disease, and corruption,” Ossoff campaign manager Ellen Foster said.

The race in Georgia isn’t over yet.



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What the remaining swing states would look like as a TV show

Protests Continue In Philadelphia As Pennsylvania Counts Votes Someone in an Elmo costume attends a Count Every Vote protest on November 5 in Philadelphia. | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

If we have writers, election 2020 is a pretty wild season finale.

As I write this, there are six states left to be called by most major news organizations. Of those six, four — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — have sucked up the lion’s share of attention. (Fox News and the Associated Press have called Arizona for Joe Biden.)

I don’t know anything more about politics than what MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki tells me to know (so dreamy!), but I do know a lot about television, and I know that when you have four separate storylines in a prestige drama, they inevitably get sorted in order of importance by the showrunner.

Obligatory note that, yes, “God, 2020’s writers are off the chain!” is kind of a tired meme at this point, but let’s beat that particular drum one more time, this time with story structure.

So, what if the 2020 presidential election is a prestige drama? What if the showrunner is, like, some woman in a parallel timeline who doesn’t realize she’s literally creating our reality right now? What would she select as the A-story (a.k.a. the biggest, most pivotal storyline of them all — think Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding)? What would she think had the highest potential for character stakes (basically every Arya storyline on Game of Thrones) and insert into the B-story slot?

What would be her C-story, wherein she could go absolutely buck wild in upending expectations (as with, say, Daenerys using her dragons to burn people on Game of Thrones … IF YOU’RE SENSING A THEME, YOU’RE RIGHT)? What would she deem less important, making it the D-story (think of, like, Bran wandering around in any given season)?

Here’s how she might weigh the current top storylines of the 2020 election.

Pennsylvania: The A-story with the most drama

As the remaining state with the most electoral votes (20), Pennsylvania has been the focus of much drama over the past several days. Most TV news networks have sent one of their top reporters to the state, and growing protest efforts by supporters of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are pushing to, respectively, stop counting the votes and keep counting the votes.

It’s not hard to imagine what’s happening in Pennsylvania as, like, the storyline in the season finale of election 2020, which would probably follow a couple of beleaguered operatives behind the scenes as they work to make sure their boss claims every advantage he can in the coming battle for the nation. If I were running this show, they would kiss at some point, but let’s be honest — they’re too busy for kissing.

But maybe the main character is wild-eyed Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty, standing alone against the political operatives about to overwhelm his city. “Count the votes!” he howls. (Okay, he doesn’t say that, because Gritty can’t talk, but he’s definitely involved in this storyline somehow.)

Here are some other things I know about Pennsylvania that we can work into this storyline: cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Phillie Phanatic, the “Iggles” (another name for the Eagles, for some reason — go birds!), water ice, “this jawn over here,” “yinz,” the Rocky statue, the state capital of Harrisburg, Penn State, Sheetz versus Wawa, and Punxsutawney Phil.

Arizona: The B-story where things peaked too early

The real excitement out of Arizona came when Fox News and the Associated Press called the state in Biden’s favor well before any other news organization. (Indeed, most news organizations still haven’t called Arizona at all.) But the Fox News call happened Tuesday night, and the state has mostly followed a predictable pattern ever since: Results dribble in every so often, some show Trump making up some ground but probably not enough, and others show Biden holding steady.

On Wednesday night, the count in pivotal Maricopa County was briefly suspended when pro-Trump protestors — some of whom brandished firearms — gathered outside the elections center demanding to be given access to the room where the votes were being counted. The situation was an incredibly scary one that I don’t want to minimize in the slightest by joking about it as a plotline on TV show; that it seems to have ultimately been resolved safely is a good thing.

Otherwise, Arizona continues to trudge along, with the foremost non-electoral stakes now being that someone on the Fox News decision desk will either be vindicated by a Biden win or humiliated by a Trump win. When that happens, the show would cut to that character, and you’d be like, “Oh, yeah, that person. I forgot about them.”

Georgia: The C-story that constantly flirts with being the A-story

Georgia is where the writers just went wild. Traditionally a Republican state (it’s gone for a Democrat only once — in 1992 — since Jimmy Carter, the former governor, headed up the ticket in 1976 and 1980), Georgia is one of several states Democrats thought they could turn into a new battleground in 2020. But where the party’s hopes in states like Texas mostly fizzled out, they’ve turned out to bear fruit in Georgia, where the margin has become agonizingly close with less than 100,000 ballots left to count.

Considering how much of a nail-biter this C-story is, don’t be surprised if it abruptly becomes the A-story without much prelude, which could happen if everything comes down to a handful of ballots in Georgia, a thing that remains unlikely but is still theoretically possible. (The main character here is obvious: Stacey Abrams, who spearheaded Democrats’ efforts in the state. I’ve been trying not to use real people in this article, but Abrams loves television and would, I hope, be pleased by being a much-loved fictional character in an alternate universe.)

Nevada: The D-story that drops in every so often with little rhyme or reason

I occasionally forget that votes are still being counted in Nevada, because the count is going so slowly and because the remaining ballots are mostly in Clark County — home of Las Vegas, where Joe Biden is heavily favored — so there’s less potential for drama in Nevada compared to the three states above.

But as a D-story, Nevada gets to be absolutely wild sometimes. Look at this guy.

I don’t get to chuckle politely about this because I live in our reality, and that man is emblematic of a right-wing media apparatus that is too often built atop lies and obfuscation, something I find absolutely terrifying. But if I lived in a different universe where everything was great, and I was just watching this election unfold on a prestige drama, I would be, like, “Heh. That’s Nevada for you!”

Bonus round: Did you know there are two other states left to call?

Technically, North Carolina and Alaska haven’t been called yet either. Trump seems likely to win both (though the count in North Carolina is very close), but let’s presume they’re our E- and F-stories. (Think of everything Samwell Tarly and Gilly got up to on — you guessed it — Game of Thrones.)

North Carolina is the E-story where the writers just stopped really trying: In a world where more states had been called, the slow count in North Carolina would have been filled with drama, but it just can’t compete. Yet don’t be surprised if it sneaks up the ranks and becomes the D-story in the event of, say, Arizona or Nevada being called soon.

Alaska is the F-story meant for comic relief: Alaska hasn’t been called because mail-in ballots have yet to be counted. (Alaska is such a big state! It has so many square miles in it! Good luck to the US Post Office!) If it goes for Joe Biden, that would be hugely unprecedented. Alaska has voted for a Democrat exactly once since it became a state. (That would be Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.) Anyway, if Alaska is a storyline, it’s the one where you keep cutting to the comic-relief character who has been sent to monitor the vote counting and keeps complaining about how bored they are. There’s probably a moose, because when people think “Alaska,” they think, “Moose, right? There are moose there?” and TV never met a cliché it couldn’t play into. (Sorry to Alaska, a beautiful, diverse state that has so much more than moose but does — yes, you have to admit it — have moose.)



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David Perdue and Jon Ossoff advance to Georgia Senate runoff

David Perdue, left, and Jon Ossoff are headed to a Senate runoff. | Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Georgia now has two Senate runoffs that will be decided in January.

Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff are headed to a Georgia Senate race runoff after both candidates failed to clear the state’s 50 percent vote threshold to win outright.

Georgia now has two Senate runoffs, both to be decided on January 5, 2021. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler will face Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock in the runoff for Georgia’s special election Senate race.

These runoffs underscore just how competitive the traditionally Republican state of Georgia has become for both parties.

The races also represent one of Senate Democrats’ last remaining paths to securing a Senate majority. Democrats had a disappointing result for congressional races during the general election, losing some seats in the House, as well as key Senate races including Maine. The result in the North Carolina Senate race has not yet been called, as election officials there are still counting ballots, potentially into next week.

The runoff could become difficult for Democrats; the party’s strategy involved harnessing the large voter turnout that typically accompanies presidential elections. It could be hard for the candidates to muster the same level of enthusiasm for these runoff elections, which has often given Republicans the edge in past years.

Perdue, the millionaire former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General, entered the cycle viewed as one of the safer GOP senators up for reelection. The race tightened in large part due to President Donald Trump’s lagging poll numbers and Georgia’s diversifying electorate. Georgia’s Black voter turnout was higher than in 2016, and Democratic strength came from the booming Atlanta suburbs.

Democrats primarily tried to cast Perdue as an out-of-touch elitist who had failed over his term to stay connected to regular voters. The Ossoff campaign centered anti-corruption reforms — including a ban on stock trading by lobbyists — as the candidate’s top priority.

Both Perdue and Loeffler have taken heat for stock trades made after they received classified briefings on the Covid-19 pandemic while they were in office. Both have denied allegations of wrongdoing, and say that the trades were made by outside advisers, without their knowledge.

“The necessity of anti-corruption reforms also cuts through the partisan divide because everyone recognizes the political system is corrupt,” Ossoff said in a Vox interview. “Everyone recognizes that it’s a systemic issue more than it’s a partisan issue.”

Democrats had good reason to invest in Georgia. Perdue broadcast his concerns about his race on an off-the-record April call obtained by CNN. On it, the senator issued a warning to Republican activists: “Here’s the reality: The state of Georgia is in play. The Democrats have made it that way.” The senator also highlighted the demographic trends that made the political environment friendlier to Democrats.

As the New York Times reported, “white residents now make up fewer than three in five voters in Georgia, and a wave of migration to the Atlanta area over the past decade has added roughly three quarters of a million people to the state’s major Democratic stronghold.”

Voter enthusiasm in Georgia was high this year. Long lines reported during the early voting period were a sign of both voter excitement and longstanding disinvestment in election infrastructure, particularly in predominantly Black neighborhoods. As of October, the state had hit record registration levels, with about 7.6 million registered voters. At least 1 million Black voters cast ballots in 2020, an increase from 712,000 in 2016.

“Georgia has by far the largest percentage of Black voters of any battleground state,” said 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, also the founder of voting rights group Fair Fight, in an email the week before the election. “We’ve already had half a million more Georgians cast their ballots than did for the entire early voting period of 2016.”

Trump’s lagging statewide poll numbers did not help Perdue. In 2016, Trump won Georgia by 5 points. That lead evaporated in the runup to the 2020 election. Early polls this year showed Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden by nearly 4 points in Georgia. In the final week before Election Day, the two candidates were in a statistical tie. And as final ballots were counted, it appeared the winner’s margin of victory could be as small as a few thousand votes.

As the battle for two Georgia Senate seats continues, Democrats and Republicans alike are likely to pour heavy resources into these races — two that could make or break a Senate majority. But both parties will have to wait a little longer to know the final outcomes.



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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Chris Hayes and Ezra Klein process this wild election

A man at the Cochise County Republican Headquarters in Sierra Vista, Arizona, gestures at the TV as he watches Virginia results come in on November 3. (Virginia was called for Joe Biden, despite early returns showing a Donald Trump lead.) | Ariana Drehsler/AFP via Getty Images

The MSNBC host discusses the problems with the polls, the future of democracy, and Trump’s surprising inroads with Latino voters.

This is not the post-election breakdown I expected to have, but it’s definitely the one that I needed.

Chris Hayes is the host of the MSNBC primetime show, All In, and the podcast Why Is This Happening? With Chris Hayes. He’s also one of the most insightful political analysts I know. We discuss the purpose of polling, the problems of polling-driven coverage, the epistemic fog of the results, the strategy behind Trump’s inroads with Latino voters, how Democrats might have won the presidency but lost democracy, what happens if Trump refuses to accept the election results, and much more.

More than anything else, this conversation on The Ezra Klein Show has helped me make sense of everything that’s happened in the last few days. I think it will do the same for you.

Subscribe to The Ezra Klein Show wherever you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

If you want to follow the latest election updates after listening, we’ve got you covered.

There’s no guarantee when we’ll know whether Trump or Biden won the election, but you can track live results here, powered by our friends at Decision Desk.

And this election is not just about the presidency: Whoever wins, their plans depend on the makeup of Congress. You can follow Senate live results here and House live results here.

Finally, here’s how Vox (and other media outlets) are making calls.



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