Popular Vote 2020: Implications

CartoonsThere is no dispute that the voter turnout in 2020 dwarfed that of 2016. The meaning of the turnout and the distribution of ballots by political party and by demographic constituency will interest pundits and party strategists for a very long time. Comparative data from 2016 seem to validate expectations of the fervor of the campaigns, the candidates, and the voters. The 2020 results and the post-election challenges of fraud and manipulation will add to questions concerning the future of the Electoral College, gerrymandering, balloting by mail, early voting, and the reliability of polling.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was quoted saying “If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there’ll never be another Republican president elected again.”

Graham joined the chorus orchestrated from the White House to attack the election results by citing multiple anecdotal and hearsay reports of suspicious activities at the polls. Legal actions by the Trump campaign to upset the results are likely to continue into December (at least until the Electoral College meets on the 14th), creating a worrisome transfer of government to the new administration.

The endgame of the incumbent remains shrouded in mystery and is the subject of endless guesswork by observers. With the advent of the campaign for the Georgia senate seats to occur on January 5, 2021, elected GOP officials have become mute with respect to the White House while the national party must accommodate an apparent lame duck president. At the same time, the COVID pandemic continues to ravage individuals and has stretched hospital and medical resources to the breading point. There may be some light at the end of this tunnel as the 2020 results begin to settle in.

Over 155 million votes are estimated to have been cast this year, compared with over 133 in 2016. The raw comparative data for 2020 and 2016 invite a host of inquiries about the demographic distribution, geographic complexity, and the effect of the campaigns and candidates upon turnout, among other factors.

Over 155 million votes are estimated to have been cast this year, compared with over 133 in 2016. The raw comparative data for 2020 and 2016 invite a host of inquiries about the demographic distribution, geographic complexity, and the effect of the campaigns and candidates upon turnout, among other factors:

Total Votes, by Party, 2020 and 2016 Presidential Elections

Party

2020 2016

+ / (-)

Democratic

79,696,089

65,853,516

13,842,573

Republican

73,712,640

62,984,825

10,727,815

Libertarian

1,848,582

4,489,221

(2,640,639)

Green

388,696

429,596

(40,900)

TOTAL

155,646,007

133,757,158

21,888,849

The Pew Research Center has estimated that there are 245 million in the Voting Age Population, of which some 235 million are deemed to be eligible to vote (i.e., not a felon, not civilly restricted, and a US citizen). Registered voters are estimated to have reached barely over 200 million for the 2020 elections, suggesting a 77% participation rate. Pew has found that 34% are Independent, 33% Democratic, and 29% Republican. Immigrants now account for some 23.2 million registered voters, with the largest share identifying as Hispanic or Asian. These voting cohorts will continue to shape the campaign strategies of the political parties.

Aggregation of population toward urban centers and even larger mega-metropolitan sprawls such as that extending from New York City through Georgia are reshaping both political party registration and identification, as well as turnout. Although the Electoral College remains something of a national gerrymander favoring more rural and smaller state populations, its fate continues to be questioned. While the Republican incumbent amassed over 73 million popular votes, the Democrat racked up over 79 million. Perhaps Lindsey Graham’s dire prediction rests upon the reading of this set of dynamics..

That 21.7 million more voters cast ballots in 2020 versus 2016 is heartening, and promising for the political party that is successful in attracting them into their tent.

On the other hand, the nearly 6.0 million difference margin for the Democratic over the Republican candidates may not constitute a dominance, especially as the Democrats lost House seats and the Senate remains under a Republican majority. However, at the same time, the Democratic margin in the popular vote increased from 2.9 million in 2016 to 5.9 million in 2020. That 21.8 million more voters cast ballots in 2020 versus 2016 is heartening, and promising for the political party that is successful in attracting them into their tent.

The major parties benefited from an intense campaign in 2020 as third-party popular votes declined by 2.7 million, most likely drifting to the major parties. Whether the intensity of the 2020 campaign survives in a post-election hiatus remains a crystal-ball view. That dynamic may only reflect the effect of the rancor motivating the popular vote turnout. Preparing for the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential becomes a guessing game, especially the potential for the present incumbent to seek a second term and the necessity for the GOP to redefine itself in that event or in the absence of Donald Trump.

Bridging the political abyss that separates the nation’s electorate is likely to be a theme for the coming years. The absence of the 45th president and that of a GOP platform for 2020 may prove to be mortal defects to the GOP going forward. Hints of a second candidacy by the 45th POTUS may or may not be a boost to the Republicans. The Senate balance of power under a new president will add complexity to the political calculus for both parties following January 2021. The status of the pandemic will play some role, whether or not it is deemed to have come to some stasis. The expenditure of political capital and money by the incumbent in pursuing an electoral victory, instead of pandemic solutions, may deplete the sails and treasury of the GOP while leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of the voters.

The American electorate, too, is a witness to these events, and will have opportunities to make known its thoughts, in part, in January 2021 and then in the midterms. Graham’s plea to the GOP to “change the U.S. election system” is a matter for the electorate, not a political party.

 

 

 



Categories: elections, Immigration, Issues, National, pandemic, politics, RULE OF LAW, VOTING RIGHTS

Tags: , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: