*Time will be displayed to Washington DC, with Central Europe in brackets: UTC-5 (CET)
14:00 (20:00)* 7 Nov 2020
As expected, Joe Biden has been declared President-elect. Our eyes now turn to the Senate races – which will be crucial for the future of the United States. Until then, thanks for reading and following A Bird’s Eye View, and we hope to bring you ever higher quality material in future.
07:30 (13:30)* 4 Nov 2020
President (270 Electoral Votes to Win): Projected
- All eyes are now on the likes of Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania – where it is yet to be seen whether mail-in ballots will be enough to teether the direction of any of the races
- Results may still take days to be known as the race proves much closer than expected
07:10 (13:10)* 4 Nov 2020
PROJECTION: Biden wins Michigan
06:00 (12:00)* 4 Nov 2020
A quick look at headlines around the world can give a better than expected insight into the respective attitude with which nations look onwards at the United States.
Russian presenters are describing the country as the United States of Anxiety, and not shying away from explaining how absolute madness has encapsulated the American populace. On the other side of the river, Ukrainian journals are presenting it as a grand show of electric democratic enthusiasm where Americans came out to vote so strongly that both leaders are preparing victory speeches.
What’s more interesting though, is that although both takes are entirely different and are made with opposing intentions – it would be irresponsible to say that one or the other is in fact false. The truth is that in their own way, each description depicts an angle of American politics – both the hotly contested seats of government which attract millions who decide on their future through their right to vote, and also the degrading level of the same democracy in recent times.
However, none were as drastic as Iranian television, where it was reported that the threat of civil war was a very real imposing phenomenon.
22:00 (04:00)* 3 (4) Nov 2020
The Supreme Court factor
It goes without saying that this feels like an election like no other, with its outcome still very much hanging in the balance. In contrast to previous elections, there has never been as much uncertainty in terms of which candidate will claim victory, be it a landslide or a razor thin margin. In the case of the latter, there is heightened speculation concerning the possibility of the US Supreme Court deciding the fate of the 2020 presidential election, and this wouldn’t be the first instance of such a possibility unfolding.
The primary reason for the Supreme Court featuring so prominently in considering the aftermath of this year’s presidential election can be mainly attributed to the importance attached to ‘mail-in voting’ as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on in-person voting occurring at large. However, the extension granted for mail-in ballots to be used in this election, in light of the Republican Party’s traditional concern of illegal voting and voter fraud spreading rampantly as a result of mail-in ballots being used, with Donald Trump also expressing this exact sentiment. Despite the extension for mail-in voting being met by massive resistance by Republicans, all of the GOP’s efforts to block mail-in ballots from being used where shot down by the Supreme Court, thus making the use of mail-in ballots legitimate and permissible for this election cycle, specifically in the cases of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. With Pennsylvania being allowed to count mail-in ballots up until 3 days after the election, right after election day in the case of Wisconsin, and even 9 days in the case of North Carolina. Currently existing evidence indicates that Democratic voters sent in their mail-in ballots earlier than Republicans, potentially swaying the result of the election in Joe Biden’s favour.
Whilst it is still relatively unlikely that a Republican challenge to the election result with regards to mail-in voting could end up on the Supreme Court’s agenda, Donald Trump has made it evidently clear that his intentions may lie in heading towards the Supreme Court should the Republicans still be determined to settle score with the Democrats over mail-in voting. Despite her not having participated in any of the judgments which the Supreme Court has issued in relation to mail-in voting, Trump’s latest nominee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett is guaranteed to play a role in any imminent legal dispute should it arise.
Whilst the conservative majority on the Supreme Court bench increases the likelihood of such a ruling on the election result going in Trump’s favour, it must be pointed out that a such a majority was
Already in place prior to Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. It must also be noted that it is extremely rare for the US Supreme Court to seal the fate of a presidential election, with the only instances of it doing so being the 1876 election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden, and the decision of Bush v. Gore in 2000, with the former seeing Hayes elected as president, and the latter gifting the White House to George W. Bush. No matter who emerges victorious, and who concedes in defeat, this election will certainly be one for the history books, whether it’s result is determined by 9 judges or not.
21:00 (03:00)* 3 (4) Nov 2020
The importance of the overshadowed Senate race
Whilst it is the race for the presidency that is understandably at the top of everyone’s mind this evening, it’s worth keeping an eye on the some 35 Senate seat races underway as well. Senators serve six-year terms and approximately one-third are up for reelection every two years. Democrats will need a net gain of four seats to flip the upper chamber, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
American voters have been reminded of the critical role of the Senate in recent weeks as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (up for reelection in Kentucky) successfully orchestrated a swift hearing process and confirmation to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of long-serving progressive Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett was narrowly appointed without any Democratic support; only a single Republican broke ranks to vote against her. By contrast, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed in a 96-3 vote back in 1993. That difference is reflective of a broader collapse in bipartisanship over the past few decades.
It’s likely that a potential President Biden would find it very difficult to pass any significant pieces of legislation, particularly concerned with healthcare or economic reform, should the Republicans retain control over the Senate, which also has responsibility for approving the federal budget. Perhaps nobody better epitomises the divisive nature of American legislative politics than Mitch McConnell. Republicans laud his self-proclaimed status as the “grim reaper”, a man committed to ensuring that “socialism doesn’t land on the president’s desk”. For Democrats, he’s a corporate shill who’s managed to turn Congress into a more dysfunctional and morally-bankrupt place than it’s ever been.
The Founding Fathers famously endowed each state in the union, regardless of its size, with two senators. What better way to remind a President to govern in the interests of the whole country, not just one particularly wealthy or populous corner of it? In practice, this assignment of seats has favoured Republicans for decades; solid-red Wyoming (population roughly half a million) has two, solid-blue California (nearly 40 million) has two. This means that the Democrats need to pick up all possible swing-state seats to have a chance of a healthy majority for the next two years.
20:00 (02:00)* 3 (4) Nov 2020
International Relations – Opinion
Donald’s Trump’s tenure as President has garnered him a unique reputation in the eyes of the rest of the world. While exceeding most expectations given out to him (although rather low), his standards have still slept seemingly lower than any US President in recent history, and for good reason. If Trump was to live a second term, this reputation is unlikely to change judging everything that has happened in the past 4 years – a lot. From seemingly influencing temporary peace between the Koreas to rejecting the Paris Climate Agreement, another term will surely prove to be eventful with him retaining power in thehe White House.
Joe Biden could very well lift the USA’s international reputation for the better considering the work done as part of Obama’s administration, even if he is not looked at at the best light. Pushing for a sustainable future, Biden has potential to push for international debate involving the Western Superpower.
19:00 (01:00)* 3 (4) Nov 2020
The People’s Priorities
A national exit poll carried out by Edison Research shows that the five issues that matter the most to the american citizen as they vote for their president are as follows:
34% – The Economy
21% – Racial Inequality
18% – COVID19
11% – Crime and Safety
11% – Healthcare
18:50 (00:50)* 3 (4) Nov 2020
All analyst’s’ eyes on Florida
Florida keeps seeping into every discussion as experts emphasise how necessary it is for Trump to win the state’s electoral votes, if his campaign’s high spirits are to be taken as reliable indicators of tonight’s performance
18:20 (00:20)* 3 (4) Nov 2020
First polls start to close
Parts of Kentucky and Indiana are now starting to close as both states near the end of their voting days – The journey to 270 begins here
18:00 (00:00)* 3 (4) Nov 2020
Protecting the Establishment, physical and political
As the results near closer and closer, businesses around the country continue to shutter up and take extra measures to protect themselves from potentially aggressive demonstrations that may take place during or after the election. The White House itself has also set up several added safety measures as the US seeks to avoid the vast amounts of damage inflicted during the George Floyd protests earlier this year.
17:30 (23:30)* 3 Nov 2020
How is data transferred across the country? Is it safe?
Information from the ballots cast at polling places is stored on memory sticks which carry data from secure air-gapped tabulation systems. They are then sent to the secretary of state’s office, which then uploads results onto its website. Some counties send information every 15 minutes, some every 30 minutes and some in 1 hour intervals.
When you read about air gapped systems, it means that the computers used are not connected in any way to the internet, in layman’s terms. This is done for security purposes – in fact the aforementioned memory sticks that are used to upload information to be sent to the secretary of state, are then no longer used as any one of them may have been compromised due to their interaction with the a system that’s connected to the internet.
17:10 (23:10)* 3 Nov 2020
Voting problems largely solved
Electronic voting issues reported by A Bird’s Eye View earlier, now seem to have been resolved as queues disappear and procedure is running smoothly once again. That said, the cause of the problems remains a mystery and is being subject to investigation.
17:00 (23:00)* 3 Nov 2020
The latest news – literally
Alaska and Hawaii don’t close polls till the next day – and even then, Alaska will not start counting absentee ballots until November 10th, albeit having relatively competitive Senate and House of Representative races
An absentee ballot is a vote cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official polling station to which the voter is normally allocated.
16:30 (22:30)* 3 Nov 2020
The Iowan presidential race is somewhat less important, due to the fact that the race would have probably already been decided by the time it shows us its colour – If Biden overturns Trump’s lead, the trend would’ve showed itself much earlier. Again this is obviously all based on probability, but it has proven quite reliable in the past.
On the other hand, one of the most competitive senate races in the states is happening here, as Senator Joni Ernst takes on Democrat Theresa Greenfield -another significant battle when it comes to deciding who will control the senate at the end of the day.
16:00 (22:00)* 3 Nov 2020
How are US polling stations handling COVID-19?
Measures against the spread of COVID-19 in the polling stations varies widely from county to county. Some stations, mainly in urban areas, are fully adhering to CDC Guidelines by equipping their workforce with masks and gloves, enforcing the use of masks, providing enough space between each person, and providing wipes and finger coverings.
Others, mainly ones in rural towns, have little to no measures in place, with no enforcement of mask use or any social distancing to speak of. The CDC has also announced that voters who are infected with the coronavirus or are in quarantine, are allowed to cast their vote in-person, as long as they take active measures to protect workers and other voters at polling stations, mainly by “wearing a mask, staying at least six feet away from others, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer before and after voting”, and informing the workers of their condition when they arrive.
15:30 (21:30)* 3 Nov 2020
“Electoral Fraud will play a big role in the election”
False. Objectively, electoral fraud is an extremely rare case which struggles to account for around 0.00005% of votes according to the Brennan Centre for Justice. As such, worries that voter fraud will derail the course of the election are unfounded and almost surely based on the effects of political spin.
15:10 (21:10)* 3 Nov 2020
Federal judge orders USPS to ensure ballot delivery
Problems with voting technology have forced a number of voters to use emergency paper ballots at Morris Brandon Primary Centre, Buckhead, Morgan County, and in Spalding County.
Following the incidents, U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan ordered inspectors to visit facilities in Atlanta, central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Wyoming, Colorado, Houston, Alabama, New England, South Carolina, Florida and Arizona in order to make sure that each ballot is delivered.
15:00 (21:00)* 3 Nov 2020
What happens if there is no clear result?
There’s no reason to worry. Although many in the media have sought to stoke fear amongst the population that an uncertain result will somehow mean the cataclysmic demise of American society, truth is that this situation is perfectly normal.
In the case that the result isn’t clear, it simply means that more votes must be tallied in order to come to a certain result. The worst case scenario is that counting takes significantly longer than usual, and that legal disputes may be involved – but even so, the result will be known and there will be a winning candidate.
14:30 (20:30)* 3 Nov 2020
With unprecedented situations come unprecedented problems. As you know, this year’s election has seen incredible numbers of mailed-in votes, propelled in part by heightened electoral enthusiasm, but even more strongly by the advent of Covid19. This means that, even if a candidate may seem to have a strong lead over his/her adversary, it might be disproportionate – mail-in ballots can serve to overturn the tide, so precaution must be taken when following reports.
14:00 (20:00)* 3 Nov 2020
An interesting occurrence could arise if key swing states like North Carolina and Ohio end up resulting in very close races. Since these states will keep accepting mail-in ballots until around mid-November, its not impossible to end up with a count lasting over a week.
Speaking of North Carolina, its senate race, contested by Thom Tillis for the Republicans and Cal Cunningham challenging for the Democrats, will give us a good hint as to whether or not the Democrats will be able to claim a majority in the powerful legislative body.
13:30 (19:30)* 3 Nov 2020
The Gerrymandering Reckoning
A little talked about event, of which this election’s outcome will set the road, is the 2020 US redistricting cycle. The US constitution mandates that a census is taken every decade, and following this census is the United States redistricting cycle. This is when state legislators take part in redoing the lines that determine congressional districts. As such, newly elected lawmakers will play a vital role in determining district boundaries and reapportionment*, that will remain valid for the coming 10 years, which in the long run can prove to be a fulcrum in several political developments.
*Congressional apportionment represents the distribution of House of Representative seats among the states
13:00 (19:00)* 3 Nov 2020
What’s up for grabs?
Although the spotlight is largely placed on the race between the two presidential candidates – there is much more at stake today than just the special white house seat. From a consequential point of view, the result of the election will leave game changing impacts on anything ranging from global economic spheres, social and environmental issues, and the approach that the leader of the free world will take on the concept of the worldwide balance of power, to mention a few. From an institutional point of view, this election will also see voters cast their ballots on the following seats:
Senate – 35 Members
House of Representatives – 435 Voting Members
Governor – 11 Governorships
State Legislature – 5000+ State Legislature Seats
The importance of each and every single one of these seats is often underplayed, but the fact remains that, in the words of Stella Rouse, a government professor at the University of Maryland, “what a president does on a day-to-day basis doesn’t affect people’s lives like local and state governments do…most of the laws that are passed are passed at the state level”.
12:30 (18:30)* 3 Nov 2020
Apart from the results of the Presidential polls, Kentucky, one of the first states to close its polls, is also playing host to a senate seat election, where Mitch McConnell faces Democratic challenger Amy McGrath. A win for McConnell will be a highly expected result, but the moment McGrath shows any sign of putting up a fight would be the moment Republicans start to worry, as it could be an early sign of a bad night to come.
12:00 (18:00)* 3 Nov 2020
The world currently looks on as the cradle of modern democracy treads carefully towards what promises to be the most divisive electoral process in decades – a reality confirmed by the fact that more than 95 million citizens have already voted early, that is, around three quarters of the total ballot count last time.
First to watch for tonight will be the earliest closing polls. 18:00 (00:00)* marks the beginning of a long night as the first polls begin the close, with Indiana and Kentucky carrying 19 electoral college votes. Here you can expect to see an early lead for the incumbent president. Later on at 19:00 (01:00)* is when polls in 8 more states will close carrying 93 electoral college votes, and this will mark the start of a vital battle for the Midwest. The two states to watch here are Georgia and Florida, the latter of which usually counts much faster than the other, and should give us a ‘tea water’ suggestion as to how the election will shape up. If Biden fails to win here, the contest may take much longer than expected and hours may inevitably turn into days.
Join us throughout the night as we bring you the latest.