It’s good to be in a Country with President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.
VP-elect Harris is the first woman elected to serve in the White House, and the first woman of color as well. It’s a historic week.
KEY TAKEAWAY: We are moving forward in the process of a peaceful transition of power from the Trump-Pence Administration to the Biden-Harris Administration. Regardless of rhetoric and bombast, the nation is moving forward as the Constitution requires and as our democracy demands.
KEY MESSAGES: President-Elect Joseph Biden has secured a clear victory from the American people evidenced by three facts:
1. The most votes in our nation’s history;
2. The largest popular vote margin in a generation since 1996, and
3. Victories in diverse states all over the country resulting in a clear win via required electoral votes.
Democrats held the U.S. House of Representatives despite a massive disadvantage lingering from gerrymandered Congressional districts. And Democrats have picked up seats in the U.S. Senate and have an outside shot to still have a Senate majority.
CAUTION: Don’t give in to the chaos. Don’t retweet or forward it. Don’t amplify. As they say in Georgia — do not try to mud wrestle a pig: It will just frustrate you and please the pig.
FRUSTRATION: 5 hours and $312 of new parts later, I could not fix our dishwasher. A good distraction, but time to support economic stimulus, I guess. I believe in clean politics, and I like clean dishes — even if 2020 means the Kalin crew is doing our dishes one by one, just like winning votes one by one. (Bad metaphor alert required? I pun, you decide.)
In this update:
1. US SENATE CONTROL: A teaser about the two-part Battle for the Soul of our Country in Georgia in the next two months, for the two U.S. Senate runoff elections there. Are you ready to get back to the phones, the texts, hit the road and give money?
2. COUNTING PROCESS Qs: Why did vote counting take so long this year? Why haven’t others “called” a state or the full race, when Jeremy, you did it so much earlier?
3. RATIFYING BIDEN’S WIN: The move to Phase Two — securing legal ratification of the people’s votes, and gaining public consensus of the fair result.
1. US SENATE: A TEASER
Democrats secured two new seats in the U.S. Senate (CO and AZ) and lost one seat (AL). Democrat Cal Cunningham is likely to lose in NC though we won’t know for sure until Nov. 13 or so. It’s 48 R, 48 D right now. Democrats need to hit the 50 seat threshold — including two independents who vote with Democrats — to have VP-Elect Harris be the tiebreaking vote as needed, which would be quite often.
First, a sleeper race: ALASKA (!). Incumbent GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan is ahead of Democrat Al Gross from Election Day voting by about 54,000 votes with about 56% of the votes tabulated. There may be as many as 194k votes to be counted from rural areas and absentee ballots, which will trend decently Democratic. Gross would need to win about 62% of those votes to win in Alaska. It’s possible, but not probable.
Now, to the BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF OUR COUNTRY IN GEORGIA:
Georgia law requires statewide offices reach 50% of all votes cast. If no candidate does not reach that 50% + 1 hurdle, the top two candidates move to a statewide runoff election. Georgia has two Senate seats in a recount on Jan 5.
DEMOCRATS CAN WIN TWO SENATE SEATS IN GEORGIA. It’s a toss-up, given the close Presidential race there. I am preparing to make a roadtrip for at least a week of work there, and I am gaining some intel from folks on the ground about how we can most be helpful. Expect to be asked to make calls. Text. Send more postcards and letters.
Mitch McConnell is already saying he may not confirm Biden Cabinet nominees. He would oppose simple steps to control the pandemic and address our COVID economic recession. And forget climate action, democracy reforms and voting rights work. THE Q FOR GEORGIA SENATE RUNOFFS: Do you want a functioning government? Vote D twice.
This will be no backyard barbecue. It will be more like a big ol’ fashioned demolition derby — a billion-dollar Senate runoff race (oy!). I like our cars, I like our drivers.
So, the first asks:
Give to GA Senate candidate, Democrat Jon Osoff: https://electjon.com
Give to GA Senate candidate, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock:
I’ll write more about the amazing work on the ground in Georgia by so many Black- and minority-led organizations to win the state for Biden. My contacts are working with those orgs to follow their lead and the two Senate campaigns’ lead to mobilize us to help them win this fight.
2. THE COUNTING DELAY WAS BY REPUBLICAN DESIGN
What does it mean to “call a state”? Who does it? How does the counting really work?
Frustrated by the pace of the counting? Why did Florida, Minnesota, Ohio et al count votes so much more quickly than WI, MI and especially PA?
First, another step back… from the cliff and into the facts.
Under our Constitution, states run elections, with a few national uniform standards of Equal Protection and Due Process (aka equal and fair treatement). States write the rules for voting and for counting. Under the pandemic, nearly every state adjusted their process, as I wrote before. Some states had already been voting by mail entirely or largely, or had adjusted their guidance to allow for pre-election processing of early votes — every step except for actually counting the ballots themselves. Florida, Arizona, Minnesota and Ohio are some such states.
In the Great Lakes States, the GOP Legislatures worked to prevent this early processing of absentee ballots — transparently as an effort to create his exact delay and to cause chaos. In Pennsylvania specifically, the D Governor and the R Legislature came very close to an agreement to allow for early processing of these ballots — only to have the GOP Legislature walk away at the last minute.
In the end, PA saw 10x the number of absentee ballots compared to 2016. They just needed to take the time to process them accurately. PA election officials thought they could finish the count within 24 hours but they didn’t anticipate this massive turnout. Then, the Trump campaign filed multiple frivolous lawsuits to slow them down even further.
Trump has tried all along to “claim” states like PA based only on the Election Day inperson vote count. Such authoritarian bullshit. In the United States of America, we count every legally-cast vote, regardless of which authorized way we submit that ballot. The GOP set up this mess consciously; don’t give it any oxygen. We count every legally-cast vote in our democracy. And it’s a beautiful thing.
So, they count. And we wait, patiently — doing things like futile dishwasher repairs and rearranging our work-from-home offices.
Who “calls” a state? When is it “official?”
These are two great questions, related to the Phase Two discussion below.
In short, the only official result of an election is the certified result of an election by an election board. Local election officials run their counting process under uniform statewide rules providing to all communities from their Secretary of State or other chief elections official. After the final deadline for any late-arriving absentee ballots cast by Election Day, those local boards meet and certify the count for every race. Then, for statewide races, the state election boards meet to review and then certify the count for those statewide races, including for Presidential electors.
Only after the state certification of an election do we enter discussions of recounting the ballots, also in line with the state law and the US Constitution. Right now, it looks like WI and GA will be within their state’s recount margins, and possibly AZ as well. That’s fine, and proper.
The certification of the statewide election board is the official result — whether it’s of the original count, or of a second “re-count.”
But, why does the press “call” a state in a Presidential race? Why did you, Jeremy, make a “call” much earlier than the press did?
Independent election experts watch for all sorts of trends of voting across key states, comparing to previous elections and voting patterns mostly. Rarely do they actually rely on pre-election polling; it’s almost entirely based on the raw votes seen in key areas, and how much the current election is going to track with or divert from prior results. For instance, in Minnesota, we know the number of registered voters across the state. On election day, as results come in, we look at the total number of votes cast, for which candidates and if possible, by which method, as each precinct reports. The City of Minneapolis heavily Democratic traditionally, and intial results were similar or just above 2016 in turnout and in Biden preference, compared to Clinton. Suburban areas showed slightly higher turnout and a lot of R-to-D shifts for President compared to 2016. I’ll use real numbers in a future post, but basically they look at patterns everywhere. They also look for a critical mass of votes consistent with these patterns to confirm the overall direction of the election. When an election is close, these election experts will wait much longer to make a call. When the actual votes counted align with the projected pattern of votes with greater certainty, a press institution will “call” a race.
These race “calls” are all unofficial. The state election boards are the official arbiter of the election; all counting now is of course the preliminary result or the unofficial result.
So, why did I feel comfortable “calling” a state even earlier? Because I saw patterns of turnout and the direction of the math, based on additional reports from multiple campaign folks on the ground in various regions. I also have not been the subject of the kind of bullying and gaslighting that the press has endured from Trump and his rabid conspiracy supporters; I was and am more free to follow the facts and the math itself.
NOW WE MOVE TO PHASE TWO — SECURING THE LEGAL CERTIFICATION and PUBLIC CONSENSUS of the BIDEN VICTORY:
Rather than keep this update going on longer than my unsuccessful dishwasher repair job, I want to touch on this just briefly…
As I wrote in an earlier report, basically a repost of this (https://jeremy-kalin.medium.com/the-at-least-six...), we face 6 distinct challenges to restore our democracy.
Now that we have helped the Biden-Harris team secure the votes required, we have to help them secure the legal certification of each state’s votes, and the legal ratification of the electors’ votes by Congress.
On December 14, every state’s electors will meet at their Capitol to cast their state’s electoral votes in a manner detailed by Act of Congress as required by the Constitution.
The new Congress will be sworn in on Jan 3, and then that new Congress and Senate will meet together on Jan 6 to open and formally accept the electors’ votes. At that point, Joe Biden will legally be set to be sworn in as President at noon on Jan 20.
All legal challenges to a state’s process must be completed by that Dec. 14 deadline. Almost anyone is welcome to file lawsuits about the voting process or the counting process, but the Courts have always worked hard to resolve issues by Dec. 13. That Bush v Gore Florida lawsuit? It was issued Dec. 12 by the US Supreme Court, so that Florida could wrap it up on Dec. 13 and have their electors vote on the 14th.
So far, in the words of the Biden team, the Trump lawsuits have been all on minor issues, or with ridiculous claims without any cited law, evidence or other facts. Basically — these lawsuits are tweets and press releases supported by a filing fee to the court. Their lawyers may actually see sanction for the frivolous use of the courts.
This is where the public consensus work comes in. First, chaos on the streets feeds the Trump beast. Don’t give it oxygen — don’t wrestle with the pig.
Second, at some point, the mad man and his yes-crew will have finally exhausted themselves; a lot of this flailing is an ugly, public part of their grieving process. It’s also the result of metaphorically smoking some nasty crap that’s led them to not only believe that Hillary Clinton was smuggling underage girls in the non-existent basement of a DC pizza joint, but also that Trump might win all 50 states, and that he is the greatest President in the history of… well.. who the hell knows.
So… here’s what you can do: Chill. Don’t repeat or spread the various junk being tossed at the wall.
Also, speak about the peaceful transition of power, and treat President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris with the respect due to them under our system of governance.
Finally, if you are represented by a Republican at any level, give them a call or send them a kind email. Ask that they help us with this peaceful transition by publicly supporting the basic steps of finishing the vote counting everywhere, using deescalating and calm rhetoric, and respecting the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect by referring to them with these earned titles. You do not need to demand they refute Trump directly — again, don’t give it oxygen.
We will slowly but surely turn this ship.
But I grew up in Iowa. I’ve wrestled with pigs. It’s even less fun than it sounds.
For those asking — but what about Trump’s crimes? And his associates? That’s for a later post. We are not ingoring them. Instead, we are just focused on Phase Two, and building the public consensus of the Biden-Harris victory.
Whew! That was longer than I intended. Back to paid work stuff. Thanks all for the very kind notes and comments you’ve been sending.
Onward to the next bad jokes and silly metaphors…