I first voted in 1968. Always intensely interested in politics. But never before with such powerful feelings of hope and anxiety.

With my wife at the polls

We’re told it will be a long count. And in-person voting will skew for Trump while a large share of Biden voters opted for mail ballots, counted later. Hence a “red mirage” in early numbers, so Trump will jump to claim victory and try to, as he openly said, “Get rid of the [mail] ballots.” He almost surely can’t. Meantime, with 90 million votes already cast, we’re headed for a record-smashing turnout. Normally, high turnout helps Democrats. Trump’s 2016 win was enabled by anemic Democratic turnout. Now millions who don’t normally bother to vote realize the existential urgency. While it’s hard to imagine them offset by those voting Trump now who didn’t in 2016. (Evangelicals in particular are always avid voters; Trump can’t squeeze many new votes from them.)

Holding my ballot

Biden’s 8+ percentage point national poll lead has been remarkably consistent. A lead one should expect given Trump’s comprehensive awfulness, and especially his catastrophic performance on covid. While Biden’s a much stronger candidate than Hillary was, and many Democrats who wouldn’t vote for her are voting for him. Polls were not wrong in 2016; they projected the national popular vote pretty accurately. Trump won the electoral vote only thanks to razor-thin margins in traditionally Democratic Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The latter two now look pretty solid for Biden; and he leads in Pennsylvania.

Counts in those three states will take some time. But Florida and North Carolina, at least, should report nearly full results tonight. Both are close, but again favoring Biden. If he wins either, game over. Especially Florida. That would leave Trump with almost no path to 270 electoral votes; and also confirm his systemic weakness. National polls would have to be way off for Biden’s overall popular vote margin to sink to Hillary levels, enabling Trump to again squeak through in the electoral college. Highly unlikely.

My vote has been counted!

Hence my hope. My anxiety concerns what Trump and his cult followers will do. Could be extremely ugly. But the larger and clearer the Biden victory, the less space will there be for Trump to try to overturn the result, and the more likely his fanatics will be chastened and stand down. Let us hope for sanity to prevail, in the voting — and its aftermath.

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