Arturo F. Hernandez
On November 7, 2020, sandwiched in a parking lot between the Delaware Valley Crematorium and the “Fantasy Island” adult video store, Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer and the former Mayor of New York City, stood at a podium set up in front of a garage door haphazardly adorned with Trump campaign placards. A “legal press conference” was underway in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping Service; eleven miles from downtown Philadelphia. Several minutes into Giuliani’s speech, during which grand, vague, and yet-to-be-substantiated claims of widespread electoral fraudulence alleged, the Associated Press announced that Joe Biden had prevailed in the election.
Reporters quickly began packing up and leaving. When informed of this development, Giuliani turned to an aid and asked which media company had declared Biden the winner. The response he received: “all of them.”
On that day, as more states began to tabulate and confirm the result of the election, Joe Biden hit the benchmark of 270 electoral votes that was required to secure the Presidency.
Since that time, his lead over President Trump has significantly increased. Biden has secured 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232; putting Biden’s win far beyond plausible contention.
Despite the winning result however, the victory was far from the “blue wave” which several polls, and many media organizations had predicted. Truthfully, the possibility of a landslide Democrat victory had been low.
The result of that election thus serves to highlight several issues with pre-election polling
In regards to the polling results which suggested a wide margin of victory for Biden, we can recall that a similarly wide margin was declared in the run-up to the 2016 Election for Hilary Clinton.
While Clinton did in fact win the popular vote, she was ultimately defeated in spectacular fashion by Trump in the electoral vote contest. The result of that election thus serves to highlight several issues with pre-election polling.
The primary problem is that polling organizations have to make educated guesses as to which way a tightly contested state will ultimately end up voting. Accordingly, polling is an inexact science prone to error.
While national popular vote counts are easier to deduce, assumptions have to be made in regards to determining who will win certain “close” states. Based in part on the aforementioned assumptions, the results of a poll are announced.
In situations where several close state races reach a different result than that which had been assumed by a particular poll, the cumulative effect is that a pre-election poll is rendered laughably inaccurate.
To compound the issue further, the polling results in this recent election, as well as the in election of 2016, demonstrate another interesting
Most Americans are aware of the fact that Donald Trump is an extremely controversial figure. Accordingly, they do not candidly admit to pollsters that they are voting for Donald Trump.
The reluctance to announce support for Trump makes his support base look significantly smaller than it actually is, and makes Joe Biden’s margin of victory as predicted by the poll, appear greater
This practice is best seen as an attempt to avoid controversy, or be labelled a whole variety of unsavoury adjectives. Regardless of their reluctance to vote for Trump, they will nonetheless vote for the Republican candidate as the “lesser of the two evils” as they perceive them to be.
The reluctance to announce support for Trump makes his support base look significantly smaller than it actually is, and makes Joe Biden’s margin of victory as predicted by the poll, appear greater.
This phenomenon has been referred to by the Trump campaign as “commanding the silent majority;” a term coined by the Nixon campaign of 1969.
Despite a record setting number of votes for both candidates, reports and candid interviews indicate that at least a sizable portion of the American electorate was engaged in tactical or strategic voting. That is, they were not necessarily voting for their preferred candidate, but against the candidate
which they disfavored.
In essence, as previously alluded to, they voted for “the lesser of the two evils.” While strategic voting is not unique to the recent election, there are indications that some Democratic voters were as equally unenthusiastic about Biden, as their Republican counterparts were about Trump.
In regards to Joe Biden, younger and more progressive members of the Democratic party communicated a desire to implement more radical policy positions; Joe Biden, as a career politician, had generally demonstrated a record best described as moderate by American standards.
In regards to Donald Trump, while Republican voters appreciated the uptick in economic activity, as well as the appointment of several Justices to the Supreme Court, the never-ending cycle of controversy endemic to the Trump administration exhausted many.
Additionally, the Trump administrations handling of the COVID pandemic left much to be desired regardless of party affiliation.
For the youth of America, what this election has made abundantly clear, is the power of the vote
With victory now secured, Joe Biden inherits a deeply divided nation, and now has the monumental task of working to bridge the gap. Donald Trump has alleged a conspiracy of widespread electoral fraud and has vowed to challenge the validity of the election results through legal action.
However, as each day passes, the potential success of these legal challenges wanes. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and so far, evidence of widespread electoral fraud has failed to materialize.
For the youth of America, what this election has made abundantly clear, is the power of the vote. If young Americans wish to effectuate changes in the political system, substantive participation is crucial.
Such participation requires us to engage in the arduous tasks of developing consensus, encouraging cooperation, and establishing a healthy understanding of political compromise. If we can manage to achieve this, we will be taking a positive step towards greater political influence in 2024.
Arturo F. Hernandez
Featured image courtesy of element5digital on Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.
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