Webb Wrap: Lessons of the 2020 presidential election – so far

Wow. What an incredible election. It was – and still is — mesmerizing. We may not know the outcome of the presidential election until later today, or even later in the week, or even much longer than that, depending on legal maneuverings.

It is par for the course for the insane year of 2020, one of the most turbulent years in my lifetime. What else would we expect?

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the presidential race was too close to call, with six or seven states still undecided. Litigation is highly likely no matter which candidate is eventually declared the winner.

Whether Biden or Trump wins, there are some remarkable lessons from the presidential race.

First, if Trump loses, especially by a razor-thin margin, it will be his own fault. He made little effort to appeal to anyone beyond his devoted base. He lost big with women voters in many parts of the country. Had he just dialed back his divisive rhetoric, his silly tweets, his name-calling, his outrageous statements just a notch or two, he likely would have attracted enough mainstream Republican and moderate voters, especially women, to win. He could never bring himself to do that, and it cost him.

Second, its more clear than ever that the coastal elites and establishment media in this country really don’t get working-class, middle America. They fail to understand Trump’s appeal to this big segment of the population. They can’t believe anyone of sound mind could vote for this uncouth barbarian. The don’t understand that America is still center-right.

In their liberal bubbles, they completely miss how their “woke” sensibilities, the cancel culture, identity politics, protests and violence, and coronavirus shutdowns are greatly disliked by ordinary Americans in flyover states.

Trump’s victory or near-victory should be a big wake-up call for liberal elites, and especially the establishment media, that they are far out-of-touch with much of America.

Win or lose, it is almost miraculous that Trump did as well as he did. His performance surprised me.

Consider that Trump was investigated for two years with thousands of breathless headlines and TV news stories about his supposed collusion with Russia. Then he was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, then a terrible disaster hit in the form of a global pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Along with the pandemic, the economy completely collapsed.

And the news media establishment has essentially run a full-time campaign against Trump. Most reporters, editors and TV personalities absolutely hate Trump, and it shows. Trump, of course, hates them and calls them fake news and enemies of the people.

Never in my 45 years of watching politics have I ever seen such a toxic relationship between the news media and any politician. Never has a president received such constant negative publicity as Trump has. To be certain, Trump brought a lot of the nasty coverage on himself.

Big losers in the election, once again, are the pollsters who got it wrong. Certainly, they can argue that, in many cases, they were within the margin of error. However, the overall perception from the national polls and the talking heads was that Trump was going to lose badly. Nationally, most polls had him behind by 8-10 points. In reality, the last popular vote total I saw in the wee hours Wednesday morning had him behind by only a little more than one point.

Trump, and Republican candidates in general, also withstood an immense money disadvantage. Democrats at all levels raised incomprehensible amounts of money. Some Democrats trying to unseat Republican Senate incumbents spent more than $100 million on their campaigns. That’s almost unbelievable.

And yet, it appears that Republicans will hold the Senate. And Democrats didn’t appear to be making big gains in the House.

Parting Shot. If Biden wins the presidency, he would actually be better off to have a Republican Senate. He would be able to better rebuff the arch-liberal base of his party, which will pressure him to support leftist priorities. A Republican Senate would give him an excuse to stay reasonable. Biden would be inclined to negotiate with a Republican Senate and actually get some things done. If the Democrats totally control Washington, they will fight among themselves and set Republicans up for big gains in the 2022 midterms.

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