Many folks went to bed on Tuesday night without any resolution to a cliffhanger presidential election. A local political expert says this shows how unexpectedly polarized the United States really is.
Laurentian University Political Science Professor and Barrie 360 political correspondent Dr. Michael Johns says the tight race from the get-go is demonstrative of a very divided populace. “They clearly are living in two different worlds. When you look at the exit polls as to why did you vote the way you did, for Republicans, the response to the Coronavirus was not anywhere close to being on an important issue. Were for Democrats it was issues on racial equality. For Republicans, it was more of the economy, law and order those sorts of things,” said Johns. “We do have two Americas and they are not talking to one another. They are not reading the same information. They are not getting the same news sources. They are not understanding events the same way.”
“There has to be a conscious effort to agree on a set of facts. You can disagree on a set of opinions, but you have to agree on a set of facts. And right now, they don’t even have that,” he added.
Johns suggested the higher-than-expected voter turnout is a good indication of an impassioned and engaged populace. “This is one of the highest turnouts the United States has in a really long time,” Dr. Johns told Barrie 360 Wednesday. “Now the United States population is getting bigger so that’s going to happen. But when you had a high voter turnout, I think it shows how polarized and motivated the supporters have been both parties really were.”
A higher dependence on mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic means there will be a prolonged ballot-counting period, adds Johns. “What usually happens is that, on election day, the republicans vote in much higher numbers, and the Democrats tend to vote using either mailing ballots or voting early. The total number of votes for Democrats in the United States is consistently higher than the number of votes for Republicans.”
Johns says it appears pollsters didn’t learn much from the unpredicted results of the 2016 election that saw Donald Trump voted into office. “This is two times now that they have underestimated Trump’s support. So whether there is a shy Trump voter or they aren’t reaching this group of people, that is a bit of a surprise.”
While President Trump continued to call for an end to ballot counting into Wednesday morning, Johns says that would actually put him in a bad position. “If there was an order to stop counting now, for some bizarre reason, even though they’re all existing ballots that were all been obtained on or before election day, that wouldn’t help him,” he suggested. “So he’s got to find a way, if he chooses this path, to argue that particular ballots that came in were inappropriate, and they were only in the states that he lost versus the ones that the counting helped him win. That’s going to be a really hard argument to make.”
It is expected the counting of ballots will continue in some states through to Friday. While Joe Biden enjoyed a slight lead in electoral votes throughout much of the day Wednesday, 270 are needed to win.