11:15 pm Pacific Time — Wrap-Up

Okay, I decided I’d wait until now — 2:15 am eastern time — but he hasn’t appeared. So I’ll read about his graceless remarks tomorrow morning and perhaps react to them then. G’night!

11:00 pm Pacific Time

The New York Times has Biden at 224 electoral votes, Trump at 213. Trump plans to speak soon. I’m waiting. But I won’t wait too long.

10:30 pm Pacific Time

Apparently Trump is going to speak soon. He has already tweeted “We are up BIG.” This may be the moment he declares himself the victor and labels illegitimate any changes wrought by further counting. On the one hand, I want to stay up for that. On the other hand, why? One of the things that most frustrates me about Trump is that he argues without evidence. Had I done that as risk manager at UC Berkeley I’d have been summarily fired. He can’t be bothered to do that even minimally and half the country votes for him anyway.

9:45 pm Pacific Time

Biden: “We believe we’re on track to win this election.” He counsels patience. He’s done in about three minutes.

9:40 pm Pacific Time

This is exhausting. The Longtime New York Friend has signed off, as it’s past midnight for her. The Fabulous Wife has toddled off to bed, where she’s reading. I’m sticking it out, because it’s not even 10 pm my time, but I’m struggling to remain attentive.

All is not lost. As we’ve known for some time, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania will need time to finish counting the unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots they’ve received. We may hear from Michigan and Wisconsin tomorrow. Pennsylvania may need until Friday to certify its tally. The mail-ins have a good chance of putting Biden ahead.

And Georgia, which I wrote off early in the evening, may also be in play. Turns out a burst pipe at the Fulton County (Atlanta) State Farm Arena has slowed the vote count in that Democratic hub, and some precincts in DeKalb County had their voting hours extended via judicial ruling. Those uncounted votes probably aren’t enough to overcome Trump’s current 7.3% lead in the state, but you never know.

There are reports Biden will speak soon. How odd if Biden addresses the nation before Trump! The silence from Trump so far ranks among the night’s biggest surprises.

I’ll try to stick it out a little longer, but since it’s unlikely we’ll get a definitive call in the key states before tomorrow morning, I might be better off joining The Fabulous Wife.

8:44 pm Pacific Time

The first glimmer of optimism I’ve heard in a long time comes from Nate Silver: “If Trump wins Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, but Biden wins Arizona, Biden is an 85 percent favorite in our scenario generator.”

8:23 pm Pacific Time

The polls have closed here on the west coast and California, Oregon, and Washington have all been projected for Joe Biden. That’s 75 electoral votes overall, and they bring Biden’s lead to 209–112, according to the New York Times.

That leaves Biden 61 electoral votes shy of victory.

He looks really good in Minnesota (10) and Arizona (11). He’s also highly likely to win Nevada (6) and Hawaii (4). Assuming they all come through for him, they bring Biden to 240 electoral votes — 30 shy of what he needs.

“If they [the Democrats] lose Pennsylvania, it’s probably a second term for Trump,” Nate Silver just said on ABC.

7:40 pm Pacific Time

The counts are slowing down. Trump has early leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but all three prioritize election day ballots over mail-in ballots. Philadelphia has yet to count over 270,000 mail-in ballots, and it’s a Democratic bastion. We may not know how these states turn out for a couple of days.

Ohio is giving Trump a 5% lead with 74% of the vote in, but the “Three C’s” — the cities of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati — have under-reported and in all of them Biden is exceeding Hillary Clinton’s 2016 pluralities. It hasn’t slipped into hopelessness, but could well be another state where we groan “Biden came soooo close.”

One potential bright spot is Arizona. With 75% of the votes counted, Biden has a nearly 9% lead, and Nate Silver sounds cautiously optimistic that Biden’s advantage will hold up. Arizona has 11 electoral votes and went for Trump in 2016. This is one blue-shifted lead that feels somewhat solid.

7:16 pm Pacific Time

The Longtime New York Friend reports that the streets of New York City are quiet and deserted.

6:50 pm Pacific Time

Someone at FiveThirtyEight mentioned that Trump’s 2016 win began to look probable during the ten o’clock hour back east (seven o’clock here).

The suspense is centered in North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and it’s likely to go beyond the next hour in all three. That said, Biden’s lead has shrunk as more votes are counted in North Carolina and Ohio. If Trump continues to gain ground, some hour soon may prove decisive.

6:05 pm Pacific Time

With the additional poll closures, the Times is projecting 119 electoral votes for Biden, 94 for Trump.

Ohio and North Carolina are tightening. The pundits warned us of a “blue shift:” immediate results from election day votes, likely to lean Republican, would be overtaken by mail-in ballots, likely to lean Democratic. But so far all I’ve seen is a red shift.

Just like in 2016.

5:50 pm Pacific Time

Heading toward the poll closures at 6 pm, the Times has Biden with 85 electoral votes, Trump with 61.

But Florida has pretty much slipped away. With 91% of the ballots counted, Trump leads by 2.4%.

Nice fantasy while it lasted. We can still dream about Ohio and North Carolina — at least until it’s their turn to break our hearts.

5:28 pm Pacific Time

Another teaser state? With 60% of the vote in, North Carolina shows Biden with a 9.3% lead.

Been chatting with The Longtime New York Friend. Mostly about cats. We haven’t missed much of consequence.

5:05 pm Pacific Time

The polls have closed in almost half the states. The projections have Biden at 85 electoral votes, Trump at 55. None of the states that have been called are surprises.

Florida is still too close to call. With 86% of the votes tabulated, Trump holds a skimpy .6% lead.

More drama: results are pouring in from Ohio and Biden has an impressive 15% lead. If that holds up, it will be a shocker.

I’m starting to wonder if the theme of the night is becoming “Biden came soooo close.”

4:40 pm Pacific Time

West Virginia has been called for Trump. Another expected result.

Of more importance: now 72% of the Florida vote is in and Biden leads by 2%.

I hadn’t expected the drama to escalate so quickly.

Looks like much of the Trump-supporting Panhandle has yet to report. The middle of the state is showing surprising support for Biden, but Miami-Dade, a Democratic stronghold, appears to be underperforming for Biden.

I’m thinking advantage Trump, but not by much.

4:25 pm Pacific Time

Some of the polls back east have closed, and two states have been called: Kentucky for Trump, Vermont for Biden. Neither is a surprise. So far Trump leads in the Electoral College, 8–3.

More meaningful, perhaps, is that according to the New York Times, with roughly 38% of the votes counted in Florida, Biden holds a 1.4% lead. It would all but end Trump’s chances if Biden won Florida. But I wouldn’t get hopeful yet: two years ago, both the Senate and governor races looked good for the Democrats until the end, when the Republican candidates prevailed. Florida reports quickly, so we should get more results soon.

(Hah! I re-checked before posting and now the Times has 45% of the Florida vote and Trump leads by .5%. This could go to a recount. 2000, here we come?)

3:45 pm Pacific Time

Today reminds me why I call this blog Element of Uncertainty. From moment to moment our well-being can never be guaranteed. Usually nothing bad happens, so our anxiety recedes and we glide through the day. But then come reckonings like this, when we hold a referendum on reality that may ratify a worldview so dissociated from fact and rationality that it consigns our health, society, and planet to ruin. On such monumental occasions it’s hard to think of anything but our well-being.

And no, that’s not me suddenly going melodramatic. As mentioned in a much earlier post — and in case this administration’s negligent response to COVID-19 hasn’t been proof enough — if you don’t think your life can go from tolerable to hellish over politics, talk to a Syrian.

Nothing about today’s election is certain. It’s likely Biden will get more votes than Trump, and it’s likely Biden will win more Electoral College delegates, but the polls may be wrong. And if Biden clinches an Electoral College majority, even as early as 1 or 2 a.m., it’s likely Trump will file legal challenges — and possible the courts, perhaps motivated by partisanship more than law, will rule in his favor.

And those are just the known, high-impact risks. There could be lots of smaller risks — and more than a few surprises.

One pleasant surprise: so far the election is going smoothly. No major glitches or disruptions.

Over the next several hours I will share my thoughts as the referendum results come in. I have no idea whether they will make for joyful or depressing reading. I’ll just try to keep them interesting. Thank you for checking in — and whatever unfolds, let’s stay calm.

Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958.

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