Opinion

Even with Widespread Mail-In Voting, We may Know Results on Election Night

Written by Kirk Laughead 

Though many polls show President Trump trailing Joe Biden in the presidential race, the Democrats could still end up being blindsided once again in November. With the safety of in-person voting in question, the prospect of a huge mail-in vote, potentially as high as 50%, has most experts warning of a “red mirage” on election night. They predict that Trump will appear to have won big only to have a “blue shift” over the subsequent days as the mail-in votes are tallied, ultimately resulting in a Biden victory.

It is this come from behind scenario that may raise claims that the election was stolen by Democrats. Chaos and rioting are feared as accusations of fraud are made. The resulting court battles could drag on for weeks or even months. This will discredit the results even further and may call our whole system into question. But it may not need to drag out too long and we may have a very good idea of who the ultimate winner is—perhaps as early as the next morning or within a few days as explained in a recent Wall Street Journal article.

One of the scenarios or indicators provided in the article is based on Biden’s pre-election polling. Currently, his poll numbers show him performing four percentage points better than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. If the election returns come in and his numbers are, in fact, four percent better than Clinton’s were, then that would indicate a potential Biden victory. Another analysis shows a Biden win might be probable if Trump won a particular county by 10% in 2016, but is only winning it by 5% this year. Simply put, if Biden does better than anticipated, he wins. If Trump does worse than expected, then Biden wins.

These are not very complicated concepts. But none of the scenarios even acknowledge, address, or demonstrate how we might recognize early indications of a Trump victory. It seems just out of fairness that they would have envisioned at least one scenario where Trump wins. Maybe just call it a thought experiment to test our imaginations.

What if Trump is performing better than anticipated in their models? Like in 2016, when the first sparks of the Trump victory were seen in upstate Pennsylvania in some obscure little patches where normal working people live. Those places that are outside of the cities that historically vote very heavily Democrat. What if more of those areas show up where they weren’t expected. Even in areas that might have been viewed as solid blue, a small shift to purple could tip the entire state to Trump.

There are other indicators as well. Though network policies may prevent them from projecting winners based on exit polling data, it doesn’t mean that the exit polls don’t exist or are inaccurate. That data could still identify trends that had not been anticipated, such as substantial shifts in the black and Latino votes, or Democrat crossover votes, and to what extent the independent vote may be breaking towards Trump. We might even get a good sense of whether security conscious suburban women opted for Trump once again.

Those are real indicators of a wave large enough to propel Trump to a re-election victory. There are also some political facts of life that shouldn’t be ignored. For example, Biden presumably needs a huge black turnout and at least 80% of the black vote to win. Also, Biden’s support among Latinos is starting to look dismal as well. The 60% support he is currently enjoying among Latinos is still six percent behind Clinton’s 2016 performance. Additionally, a recent NBC/Marist poll shows the Latino vote in Florida is split evenly, and there’s no reason to believe that those trends are confined to Florida. These are very important numbers to keep an eye on as the votes begin to come in on election night.

Ironically, just a week or two ago there had been some claims made by the Democrats about a potential early Biden lead based on mail-in ballot requests, which are heavily Democrat. But mail-in voting, which had been touted as the safe way to vote, may be falling out of favor as we hear more stories about ballots being carelessly mishandled and discarded. Disproportionate numbers of these disallowed ballots had been submitted by black voters. That’s not a recipe for success when you need every black vote you can get.

Of course, it might turn out that the mail-in votes may not play as big of a role as anticipated. There may be a much larger in-person turnout on election day than currently predicted. It appears that after focusing entirely on mail-in voting, Democrats are opening up to in-person voting and may now be embracing a more traditional get-out-the-vote approach to ensure a robust election day turnout.

This greater level of in-person voting will provide a much better idea of who the winner is because there will be more real vote tallies in greater numbers on election night. This also means that there will be fewer mail-in votes and less uncertainty, which will hopefully result in a lot less delay in finding out who won.