Few questions were answered on Election Night 2020, but one thing was clear: The Joe Biden landslide predicted by political experts failed to materialize. Once again, President Donald Trump managed to exceed expectations in key states, many of which remained too close to call as of late Tuesday.
"We were winning everything, and all of a sudden it was just called off," Trump said. "The results tonight have been phenomenal." Biden, meanwhile, urged supporters to have patience as the election results come in. "It ain't over til every vote is counted," Biden said in Delaware.
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Other social media users sounded a more ominous and racially charged message:
If Trump wins re-election, it’s on white people. No one else.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 4, 2020
The president got off to a hot start with a strong performance in Florida, where he was projected to win by several percentage points. The New York Times also projected Trump to win in North Carolina, where most polls had anticipated a Biden victory. The Senate race between incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) and Cal "Side Piece" Cunningham (D., N.C.) was too close to call, with Tillis clinging to a slight lead with more than 80 percent of precincts reporting.
Preliminary data suggested Trump's strength was driven in large part by a double-digit increase in support among Hispanic voters, particularly in and around Miami. Liberal pundits reacted as you might expect—by declaring that Hispanics who vote for Trump are actually white.
A lot of those "brown people" are white https://t.co/18j869KDuB
— Jonathan Myerson Katz (@KatzOnEarth) November 4, 2020
People are consistently surprised by how Latinos trail only white voters in their support for Trump, but this is simply an unsophisticated understanding of the Latino as a category created by white po. Do white Cubans as a group identify naturally identify w Mexicans in camps?
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) November 4, 2020
In a sign that a Biden landslide was not on the cards, Trump was projected to win Georgia, a state Democrats had targeted as a potential pickup opportunity thanks to changing demographics. Ohio, meanwhile, was too close to call, though Trump led by 8 percentage points with 90 percent of precincts reporting. Biden was projected to win in Arizona, an outcome predicted by polls but significant nevertheless given that Trump won the state by more than 3 percentage points in 2016.
The unique circumstances of this year's election—in the midst of a global pandemic—mean that some states, including crucial swing-states such as Pennsylvania, may not be able to produce a definitive outcome for days as mail-in ballots are counted. Early returns from the Keystone State did not appear to bode well for Biden.
An ominous sign for Biden in Pennsylvania: Trump running ahead of his 2016 performance in Trumbull County (Warren, near Youngstown and on the west PA border) with nearly all of the vote counted
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) November 4, 2020
Doing what he does best, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) easily won reelection, defeating challenger Amy McGrath in a race that was promptly called. Hopes of a Democratic upset in red states such as Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas were dashed when the Associated Press called those races for the Republican candidates fairly early in the evening.
In general, the tone of the Election Night media coverage was eerily similar to 2016, when many professional journalists experienced a gradual descent into madness after realizing the expert predictions were wrong. Betting markets swung decisively toward an expected Trump victory as the night wore on.
One thing much better than 2016: Back then I was crying in the Javits Center. Tonight I have a cat. pic.twitter.com/irwft7ZuMT
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) November 4, 2020
Just as it was too early to call the race for either candidate, it was also too early to rule out the possibility of a 269-269 Electoral College tie, which is probably the outcome we deserve. On the bright side, the lack of a decisive Trump victory meant that Antifa radicals did not immediately take to the street to burn down our cities.