“Every two years the voters send Washington a message, and every two years they fail to receive the message.” Zelena Zito (paraphrased)
Trump loses with even less grace than when he wins. Charges of corruption require evidence, not intricate conspiracy theories. For his true believers his baseless claims damage the credibility of the election process, but this process had been damaged severely before the election. Problems seemed to be centered more around competence than malice; and the need for a larger volume of mail in ballots due to Covid challenged many districts
The Democrats sowed this skepticism in 2016 when they blamed Russian collusion, social media and other excuses for the close race. The question lingered, “why was it even close?” and that question remains relevant for 2020 as well. Hillary suggested Biden not accept the result if he lost. Stacey Abrams still has not conceded her 55,000-vote loss for governor of Georgia in 2018, making baseless claims of voter suppression. A race is not illegitimate just because you did not like the outcome. (And neither is a SCOTUS judge, Nancy.)
Media and polls got so much so wrong that they raised expectations of tampering as if a bad prediction is to be more believed than an actual election. They projected worst outcome scenarios rather than promote understanding of the process; they make better click bait, the modern media currency.
Local irregularities also fed the skepticism. Florida became the shining example of how to do it correctly, but the counties and districts that did have problems have an outsized influence on the whole process. This will be inevitable in a deeply divided country with close elections, but the greater and untold story is that these districts are few. Question centered on four states and these were resolved. One advantage of the electoral college is that it isolates problems and makes them easier to correct. It is much harder to corrupt 50 independent systems with 3,000 counties than one large system.
The media displayed why so few Americans trust them; they proved how little they understand about the American people. While they press for diversity they should try for some intellectual diversity, hire journalists from the flyover country and state schools. Their intolerance for diversity of opinion so practiced at the New York Times and other sources only blinds them to the country they pretend to know. Self-serving polls that assume a single identity matrix and presents questions isolated from real world decisions are worthless. Voters makes tradeoffs; they will hold their nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. This is often missed in polling. Many could answer ‘no’ to the question of do you approve of Trump’s performance and still vote for him.
Get out of the coastal newsrooms and verify the data which you think is objective with some street level research. Selena Zito advises the value of taking the back roads. Just because data can be expressed numerically, does not mean the relationships are mathematical. A lot of useful information can be hidden by averages.
27 races called close in the House all went Republican. Can this be a coincidence? When the polls missed, they seemed to miss in only one direction. How do you reconcile this with any claim of being nonbiased or professional? The media and the polls did immense damage to their credibility.
One important lesson is that humans are harder to categorize that the polls assume. Hispanics are far from a monolithic group, and Black voters proved to have many issues other than race. Security, opportunity, family, and community do not adhere to the strict confines of identity politics. We still act as individuals to a large degree.
The mark of an intelligent mind is to hold two conflicting thoughts in your head at the same time. The voters said that character matters but not at all costs. They rejected Trump’s character but also rejected the extreme policy elements of his opposition. It became possible to reject Trump and still reject the woke zealotry of the left. A vote against Trump was not a vote for socialistic policies, defunding the police, or acceptance of America as permanently morally scarred by its past.
Even in California where Biden beat Trump two to one, a referendum to reinstate racial preferences in government agencies and universities was defeated 57% to 43% in spite of being outspent 20 to 1. Republicans gained three House seats in California, more than any other state.
We are more centrist than the media would have us believe and we are more individualistic than the parties would have us believe. We can honestly face the sins of our past without ignoring our promise. Our liberal traditions are important and threats to them from the woke left or the radical right will not be tolerated. The results should restore our faith in the electorate, but many on the hill do not seem to be getting the message.