An ominous cloud hangs over this election. The silver lining of the cloud is that voter turnout is extraordinarily high- people seem to care about the direction of the republic. In this way, there is much to be proud about- American’s are peacefully making their voices heard.
However, the large dark-mass of the cloud is formed by the history of what this extraordinary turnout usually indicates. The election of 1876 had turnout like this- as did the election of 1860. The former is still hotly contested and many scholars believe the Presidency was stolen from Samuel Tilden. The later set ablaze the fires of the American Civil War.
In the case of the 1876 election, at the 59th minute of the 11th hour, the House of Representatives stepped in to broker an election deal after the Electoral College failed to assign electors from 4 states with election irregularities. Violence was (mostly) avoided and both sides made some victories.
In the case of the 1860 election, the dispute over the Presidency continued until every city between Richmond and Montgomery was burned, 600,000 American Men lost lives, a Secretary of State was stabbed, and the President of the United States was shot.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden are in a showdown for the Presidency. The key to the Presidency will be the Midwest and a handful of other swing states. Both men have dreamed of this moment for years. This is Vice President Biden’s fourth attempt at the Presidency, running several times since the 1980s. President Trump, who first ran (seriously) and won in 2016, filed his reelection paperwork with the FEC on the day he was inaugurated for his first term as President.
These candidates have employed extremely different campaign styles. The President- following his campaign model from 2016- has been extremely active. President Trump’s calendar in recent months and weeks has included as many as 5 rallies a day- sometimes across multiple states.
The former Vice President, has taken a classical style of campaigning from a prior era. Vice President Biden has used the style that was popular prior to the New Deal- favouring a handful of smaller events and limiting media exposure. This style historians would note- resembles the style used by most presidential candidates dating from Adams to Hoover.
Catalogued below are the most interesting states to watch for this election. You can use the analysis contained with them if you wanna look smarter than all your friends.
MINNESOTA’S 8TH DISTRICT
In 2018, The New York Times gave Minnesota’s 8th District this description: “ The expansive district, which stretches from the Minneapolis exurbs through the mining towns of the Iron Range, is heavily unionized, and for decades it was solidly Democratic territory. But President Trump is very popular — he carried the district by 16 percentage points — and his trade policies have lifted the region’s iron mines.”
Minnesota has long evaded Republican capture. President Trump lost the state in 2016 by less than one half of one percentage point. President Reagan in his 1984 landslide, won every state in the Union and indeed every district in Minnesota except for the 8th district. The 8th district went for Mondale and prevented Reagan from winning the entire state and thus the entire country.
In recent years, the 8th District has flipped from Democrat to Republican and back several times. The blue collar and largely white working class population of the 8th District will serve as a great indicator of how well President Trump’s base is turning out for him. If the President wins this district again, he may very well carry the entire state- and there would be a greater indicator that his efforts to court the white blue-collar vote have been rewarded.
THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Scranton Pennsylvania is Biden’s hometown. Although Biden was a Senator from Delaware, his campaign has greatly emphasized his Pennsylvanian roots.
The state may prove to be complicated for Vice President Biden. Typically, candidates should expect to win their home states but nothing about this election is typical.
President Trump won Pennsylvania in a surprise upset in 2016. Due to redistricting and other electoral reforms- Pennsylvania was expected (in some circles) to lean blue this election. However, a fumble by Biden’s campaign seems to risk all of that this year. The Biden Camp has been trying to maintain a delicate balance- signaling to progressives that they are open to comprehensive climate reform while also signaling to white blue-collar workers in western Pennsylvania that their jobs are safe in fracking.
During the final Presidential debate, former Vice President Biden reversed himself on the issue of fracking. Opposed to fracking in the primaries, friendly to fracking in the lead up to the general- Vice President Biden reversed his position on fracking and made it clear that he opposes the industry. Speculation swirls now about how this reversal will positively or negatively a state that once leaned in his favour.
FLORIDA’S 21ST DISTRICT
THIS IS THE ELECTION TO WATCH. (This is the election to watch after the Presidential election of course).
Florida is THE epitome of a swing state. Florida often picks the President and it is unlikely that either candidate can win this year without Florida.
The 21st District is the President’s home district- the location of his Mar-A-Lago Resort. Currently the district is represented by Lois Frankel, a Democrat incumbent. The district has been solidly Democrat for 10 years.
What makes this election interesting is- it is a perfect microcosm of what is going on in the country. Frankel is the favourite for the seat. Frankel is an experienced member of government who has served in a number of political roles in the county before winning her seat in the 21st. Frankel is opposed by Laura Loomer.
Laura Loomer- if any of you have been on Twitter long enough to remember- is the famous investigative journalist, polemicist and stuntress whose antics have gotten her banned from every social media platform from Twitter, to Facebook, to Uber. Loomer is the Jewish, female version of President Trump.
Frankel- who has held very few events- has been accused by the Loomer Camp of not campaigning (a similar attack is often launched by the Trump Camp against Vice President Biden because of his ‘basement campaign’). The accusation by the Loomer Campaign that Frankel is simply not ‘working for it’ seems to be supported by Frankel’s FEC filing. Pulling up Frankel’s FEC filings one will find that Frankel has raised 1.5 million in donations but has only spent a couple hundred thousand all together. The Loomer Campaign has raised over two million dollars and has spent almost every penny of it.
Congresswoman Frankel is making a calculation very similar to the former Vice President’s- ‘Why campaign- why spend so much money- if the seat is mine to lose’. Tonight, as President Trump and Laura Loomer continue to pound pavement and burn dollars- one will see if their calculations are correct.
The entire State of Ohio is important. No Republican has ever become President without winning Ohio. Ohio has almost always picked the President (regardless of party) since WWII (missing only in 1944 and 1960).
Ohio is the most economically diverse state in the Union. Just about every industry is present in Ohio and no singular industry totally dominates. All industries from tech, to agriculture, to oil & gas are present in Ohio. Ohio is both suburban and rural. There are the large suburbs of Cleveland and the grand rural expanses of Lawrence County. The state has both a significant industrial sector and agricultural sector.
Early returns from exit polls will be the thing to watch in Ohio. Odds are, whoever Ohio is favouring, the country will favour too.
NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA
Democrats pulled off the impossible in 2018. Democrats obliterated the Republican delegation in Orange County, California. Orange County has historically been the Republican stronghold in a consistently blue state for most of recent memory. All 7 congressional seats in Orange County were captured by Democrats in the midterms.
Sometimes there are electoral trends that begin suddenly and sometimes there are electoral aberrations that occur once and never again. This election will be very telling for the electoral direction of Orange County. If Republicans recapture, then one can assume 2018 was an aberration, if Democrats hold on then one can start to expect a deepening of the blue constitution of California’s congressional delegation.
As National Review reported last week- there seems to be a rightward lurch in NewPort Beach (part of Orange County). The reasons are unclear and mostly only covered by National Review but one has to wonder ‘what the hell is going on in California?’.
Republicans on Twitter seem to be jazzed about the potential of flipping California red. It is unclear whether this recent buzz is stirred by the amount of Trump parades in California or whether it is just a tool to antagonize Twitter progressives who seem hungry to flip Texas blue.
Something is going to be flipped this election. Whether it is Newport Beach, all of Orange County, the entire State of California or the whole electoral makeup of Lone Star state- something is going to be flipped- but it is anyone’s guess as to what.
MICHIGAN & WISCONSIN
Like Ohio and Minnesota (and parts of Pennsylvania), Michigan and Wisconsin are part of the ‘Rust Belt’. If politics in the Deep South are defined by the Bible Belt phenomenon then politics in this part of the Midwest are defined by the Rust Belt phenomenon.
Michigan and Wisconsin were once considered the “Blue fire-wall”. As late as 2016, the states were considered by everyone in the political establishment to be safe for Democrats. President Trump defied establishment wisdom about the Rust Belt by winning Michigan and Wisconsin. This shattering of the Blue Fire Wall has caused a large shake-up in electoral politics, sending both sides scrambling to appeal to Rust Belt industries.
These states are states to watch because both candidates need them. Trump needs these states again to stay in office and Biden needs them to take office. Neither side, Republican or Democrat wants to be surprised by the results from Michigan and Wisconsin like Secretary Clinton was in 2016.