2020 Election Prediction
Given that the polls open in a few hours, we’re now in the vortex. I’m at the point where my spiritual side and my superstitious side merge. Crazy thoughts started to swirl even as I was watching the World Series. If the LA Dodgers win… Dodger Blue… then we’ll have a Blue Wave and Joe Biden will win. If the Tampa Bay Rays win… they used to be the Devil Rays… then Donald Trump will win.
OK, OK, snap out of it.
I’m normally pretty good at political predictions. I got Obama over McCain within 11 electoral votes. I guessed the Democratic ticket would be Biden/Harris three years before it happened.
And then 8 November 2016 happened — and I was spectacularly wrong. When’s the last time you were spectacularly wrong? 8 November 2016, I’m guessing. I mean, we’re all wrong a lot, but spectacularly wrong? That’s rare. It shook me all the way to my soul. “I’m a comic. I travel the nation. I perform in big cities and small towns, for all types of audiences. How’d I miss this so badly? Do I know my country? Do I know my fellow citizens? Do I know myself?” Existential crisis, I’m tellin’ ya.
And with the backdrop of the COVID pandemic raging, God Only Knows how this’ll affect the election.
And so with all due humility, I wrote two essays:
Why Trump Will Win. Why Biden Will Win.
I highly encourage you to read them because I deep-dive into my rationales.
Sidenote on the Congress: Democrats will keep the House of Representatives by a comfortable margin. And I believe Democrats will net four Senate seats, flipping Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, and North Carolina, but giving up Alabama.
In doing my research, I read extensively about betting markets and faithless electors and what happens if this goes to the US Congress or even the US Supreme Court. I do not think it’ll come to any of those.
I took a look at the polling averages at FiveThirtyEight.com, Real Clear Politics, 270toWin, etc. To be safe, I subtracted four points from Biden’s lead in state polls. I was very close to granting AZ to Biden, since polls generally “misunderestimate” (to quote George W. Bush) Democrats’ chances in the Southwest and since Mark Kelly will likely defeat Martha McSally. I figured I’d give it to Biden if he were three points ahead, but alas, he’s only 2.6.
In short, I am holding the right to modify my prognosis till 5 PM Eastern Standard Time. Why? Well, with March Madness, you have till that Thursday at noon before you have to turn in your brackets. The first election returns (I can just hear the CNN sound now) start rolling in at 7 PM ET, so two hours beforehand seems fair.
But moreover, like a hipster who likes a band before it was cool, I ain’t no Johnny-come-lately: for months, I’ve been predicting Election Day chicanery and the accompanying civil unrest.
If by 5 PM ET, it’s All Quiet on the Western Front, then I actually think Biden wins Pennsylvania rather easily and it’s over. (So, perhaps a better title would be All Quiet on the Eastern Front.)
Based on election returns in other early-closing states like Florida and Colorado, we’ll be able to extrapolate a likely Biden victory — but we won’t know for sure till Thursday or Friday. There’ll be terrorism from the right, that will be quashed by the FBI over the course of a few months.
If there is chicanery, e.g., the Proud Boys are wreaking havoc throughout Philly, then Trump will eke out a narrow victory. He’ll win in raw numbers, and while Democrats would try to win in Court, they’d likely lose. That’s the ballgame. There’d be protests and riots, followed by a government crackdown. We’d essentially lose our democracy, though Trump Supporters won’t see it that way. My guess is that Trump stays for at least two more Presidential terms. If you think it can’t happen, then ask yourself if you thought that half of the country would let the President off the hook for asking a foreign power like Ukraine to investigate his American rival. (And that wasn’t even the basis for impeachment. That was for something else.)
Because this isn’t the 1860s and there isn’t a Mason-Dixon Line, we won’t have an all-out Civil War, with deaths in the thousands, even if I joke about it on social media:
Rather, I’m imagining widespread urban civil unrest. I’ll place the over/under death toll at 237 people across the country.
Naturally, I hope nobody dies. I hope there is a peaceful transition of power. But the reality is that we have all lost over the course of the last four years. There is a part of America that has died, a piece of all of us that has died. Perhaps forever. But — and as a standup comic, I know I’m supposed to be far more cynical — the reality is that I live in awe of the human spirit, in amazement of what my fellow people have survived, whether it’s homelessness, oppression, wrongful imprisonment, or slavery.
And so I’m betting that the chicanery will not be widespread and that Biden + Harris shall prevail.
I’m betting on hope over fear, love over hate, light over darkness. I’m betting on America.
Rajiv Satyal is a standup comic. He resides in Los Angeles. So at least he doesn’t have to worry about riots or anything.