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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Today Is Election Day
      •  Trump: Election Challenges Are Not over
      •  Trump Is Cementing His Control over the Republican Party
      •  The Virus Is Spreading
      •  Trump Vows to Veto the Defense Spending Bill
      •  Democrats Have to Decide Who Their Nemesis Is
      •  Biden Has a Secret Weapon: His Faith
      •  Twenty Americans Who Explain the Election

Today Is Election Day

This is the day political junkies have all been waiting for all year. Today the 538 lucky people who get to vote for president go to their state capitals (and D.C.) and cast their votes for president. Oddly enough, there have been no polls of the actual voters, but insiders believe that Joe Biden is likely to get over 300 votes and win.

It's an odd situation for an election. Usually the voters choose among the candidates, rather than the candidates picking the voters, as in this election. Four years ago, the candidates were extremely sloppy about picking their voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), John Kasich, Ron Paul, and Faith Spotted Eagle scored valid votes, for example. Colin Powell got three, despite the fact that he didn't see himself as a candidate. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) got the most votes for vice president, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) coming in third and Carly Fiorina, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Winona LaDuke tied for fourth place.

Unlike last time, this time the candidates picked the voters extremely carefully. While there haven't been any polls of the voters, Politico managed to interview 25 likely Democratic voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. It turns out, Politico isn't the only organization that has been talking to them during the past couple of weeks. The Biden campaign has been talking to them a lot lately.

To start with, voter selection has been much more thorough than last time. Last time a noisy activist could manage to be selected and then vote for Faith Spotted Eagle. This time, only the most faithful party foot soliders and the most high-profile longstanding party leaders were chosen. They were given very clear instructions about who to vote for. This second part is normal, of course. Candidates are always telling voters who to vote for, but usually they don't have the luxury of first selecting the voters based on the candidates' expectation that they will follow directions.

All the details have been worked out carefully, including precise logistical information about when to vote, where the polling place is exactly, and how to get there on time. The transportation plans and assembly points are being kept secret for the time being. Also, there is a backup plan in case something goes wrong, like demonstrations or disruptions at the polling places or someone getting sick. The Constitution doesn't provide a lot of guidance on exactly how to run this particular election, so it is largely up to the governors to work out the details. Some of the voters have received threats. Malcolm Kenyatta, a Pennsylvania voter (and state representative) who is planning to vote for Joe Biden today, has gotten hundreds of e-mails, including one talking about laundering bribes through his kids. He has had contact with law enforcement about some of them. Still, this is nothing like what happened in 2016, when hate e-mails and death threats were all the rage. Unfortunately, mailing in an absentee vote is not in the cards in this particular election. The voters need to show up personally.

A factor that the Biden campaign is taking very seriously is COVID-19. It is thought that 55 or so California voters will show up at the polling place in Sacramento today. The campaign is worried about this becoming a COVID-19 hotspot, so it has plans in place to ensure everyone's safety. It will definitely be a masked ball, but not many guests will be welcome, and the partying afterwards will be minimal, with everyone 6 feet from everyone else. Wisconsin voter Khary Penebaker, who is a member of the DNC and thus presumably is going to vote for Biden, said that even having dinner with the other nine Wisconsin voters is not going to happen. The Biden campaign has no plans for dealing with Texas or Florida, though, since it is known that the virus can't tolerate warm weather. According to the President, at least.

Politico asked the Trump campaign about its plans for today, including whether there would be any scheduled activities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia, but the campaign declined to answer. (V)

Trump: Election Challenges Are Not over

On Fox & Friends Weekend yesterday, Brian Kilmeade asked Donald Trump if his election challenges were over, now that the Supreme Court tossed out the Texas case. Trump replied: "No it's not over. We keep going. And we're going to continue to go forward." He also continued to attack Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA), a conservative Republican, for refusing to overturn the Georgia election results. Trump said: "We have a governor, Republican governor, that's worse than a Democrat. He's terrible, and he's hurting Kelly and David very badly, the senators that are terrific people." Worse than a Democrat? Trump would have preferred that Stacey Abrams had won the 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia? Maybe he will support her if she runs against Kemp in 2022, but we have our doubts.

When Kilmeade asked Trump if he had proven election fraud, Trump replied that he never got a chance because the judges keep saying that he doesn't have standing. When Kilmeade later challenged Trump on the lack of proof of fraud, Trump just said "we've proven it" and left it at that. Then he went on to whine some more about the judges who didn't have the courage to hear his cases.

Trump wasn't the only Republican interviewed on Fox News yesterday. Chris Wallace interviewed House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). Wallace asked Scalise: "Do you feel comfortable throwing out millions of votes of your fellow Americans?" Wallace noted that is precisely what the Texas lawsuit would have done; Scalise demurred. Wallace also asked if Scalise recognized Biden as the president-elect. Scalise said: "Joe Biden has been going through a transition with President Trump supporting him." The first part of that is true but the second part is a baldfaced lie. Then Scalise went on to attack Twitter, without which Trump probably wouldn't have won in 2016. Gratitude is not the Republicans' strong suit. (V)

Trump Is Cementing His Control over the Republican Party

You might think that by continuing to fight a battle that was lost around Nov. 7, when the AP called the race for Joe Biden, Donald Trump is just wasting his time. That's actually not true at all. What he is actually achieving is complete control over the Republican Party. Ann Coulter had it right back in 2016 when she wrote this book:

Ann Coulter's book In Trump We Trust

U.S. coins have an earlier version of this motto, apparently updated now. At least for some people. What Trump has done with all his whining and lawsuits and demands for fealty is stage a loyalty test for Party officials. He is forcing Republican leaders to choose between him and fair elections. To his credit, he correctly understood that many would choose him. That includes 126 Republican members of the House (including the entire Republican leadership, except for Chair of the House Republican Conference Liz Cheney, R-WY), many members of the Senate, 18 state attorneys general, a smattering of governors, and various and sundry Republicans lower down the totem pole. At this point, most of the institutional Republican Party (and at least 70% of Republican voters) see Trump as the unquestioned leader of the Republican Party (and possible 2024 candidate) going forward.

This is no small achievement. After a substantial loss (in this case over 7 million votes, along with 74 electoral votes), a losing candidate is rarely seen as the party leader. Did anyone see Al Gore as the leader of the Democratic Party starting in 2001? And remember, he actually won the popular vote by half a million votes and lost the electoral vote by only 4 EVs. Did anyone see John Kerry as the leader of the Democratic Party in 2005? How about Hillary Clinton in 2017? And remember, she won the popular vote by 3 million votes. Were John McCain and Mitt Romney crowned the leaders of the Republican Party in 2009 and 2013 respectively? Hardly. Normally the losers go back to whatever they were doing before. Kerry and McCain stayed on as senators and the others quietly slipped back into private life and didn't play any role in politics going forward except for Romney, who made a comeback 6 years after his defeat and was elected to the Senate.

Fundamentally, Trump has bent nearly the entire Republican Party to his will, an enormous achievement for someone who lost an election fairly badly and wasn't even a Republican until shortly before his first run. This is something more typical of tin-pot dictators in third-world countries than in democracies. Stuart Stevens, a Republican operative who has advised five Republican presidential campaigns, put it this way: "The Republican Party has adopted an attitude that if democracy helps them be in power, then fine, they're for democracy. If it blocks them from being in power, they're against democracy."

Heather Cox Richardson, a professor at Boston College who wrote a history of the Republican Party, sees the Republican leaders as more cynical. Before the Supreme Court ruling on Friday, she told the Washington Post: "They're making the calculation that the Supreme Court is not going to hear this. To their minds, it doesn't cost anything to stroke Trump's ego and go ahead and back this lawsuit without really expecting that it's going to go anywhere."

But of course, it does cost something, just not to the Republican leaders who backed the lawsuit. It means that a huge chunk of the country doesn't believe in free and fair elections anymore. If the entire Republican leadership had come out in the middle of November, when all the states had announced their winners, and said: "It's over. Donald Trump lost. Joe Biden is the president-elect," Trump would have been forced to slink off into obscurity with only a modest following and the GOP could have conducted another autopsy report and started to rebuild itself. Now that is going to be impossible for several years, at the very least. Trying to cobble together a majority in the Electoral College while being crushed in the popular vote nearly every time is not a good place for any party to be and forces it to try all manner of anti-democratic maneuvers (like voter suppression, gerrymandering, etc.) in order to stay in power. (V)

The Virus Is Spreading

Yes, the coronavirus is spreading, with 16.5 million cases in the U.S. so far and over 300,000 deaths from it now (including 220,000 new cases and 2,300 deaths on Saturday alone). But we mean a different virus: The "I-refuse-to-accept-the-fact-that-I-lost" virus. Case zero was at the White House, but it has spread to half a dozen states already. Oddly enough, it seems to infect only Republicans, maybe because they visited the White House or talked to Patient Zero on the phone. For example, Loren Culp (R) ran for governor of Washington and was crushed by Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), 57% to 43%. Culp refuses to concede and has sued Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R) last week. He says he is the victim of a rigged election.

Congressional candidate Ted Howze (R), who lost to Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA) in CA-10 by 10 points and 30,000 votes, is also refusing to concede. Congressional candidate Errol Webber (R), who was crushed by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) by 72 points, pointedly said: "I will NOT concede," even though his chances of winning in a D+37 district were roughly equal to the Texans' chances at the Alamo. In Maryland, Kimberly Klacik (R) said her campaign would investigate the results of her race against Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), even though the incumbent won by more than 40 points. In Tennessee, Charlotte Bergman (R) lost TN-09, a D+28 district, to Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) by 57 points. Instead of conceding, she reached out to pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell to contest the election. In Massachusetts, John Paul Moran (R) claims that he beat Rep. Seth Moulton (R-MA), even though he actually lost by 30 points. The list goes on and on. However, in Michigan, John James (R) finally conceded his loss to Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)—but it took him three weeks after the AP called the race to do so.

Tick Segerblom, a Democratic commissioner for Clark County (NV), said: "I've been doing politics for 60 years and it's always been pretty much assumed, unless the margin was a handful of votes, that the winner was the winner and we all just went on our merry way. It's definitely a new era." Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist and one of the founders of the Lincoln Project, said: "Right now it's mostly kooks and crackpots, but it's pretty rapidly becoming mainstream Republican thought." Fundamentally, democracy can't function if the loser insists he or she won, especially when the margin was large and there is no evidence of any fraud."

For Republicans, there is no incentive to concede. Much of the Republican base believes the election was rigged, so any loser who claims he won will be seen by the base as a hero who is fighting for his rights rather than a sore loser. Facts no longer play a role in deciding who won and calls by local and national media outlets are just "fake news" to much of the base. In the past, once it was clear there was no chance of winning, candidates conceded to avoid the "sore loser" label. Now nursing a grievance and playing the victim is a perfectly good electoral strategy for many Republicans, even those who were clearly crushed.

On the other hand, Karl Rove, who is hardly a cheerleader for the Blue Team, yesterday said on Fox News that Trump is starting to look like a sore loser, and it wasn't meant as a compliment. (V)

Trump Vows to Veto the Defense Spending Bill

Yesterday, Donald Trump once again vowed to veto the must-pass defense spending bill. He said that China was the biggest winner from it. His biggest gripe, however, is that the bill does not strip away liability protections for social media companies. He falsely believes that they favor the Democrats. Actually, Facebook has bent over backwards to protect him. What he means is that lately, Twitter has been putting a warning label on his tweets that contain outright lies. What he doesn't realize is that if Facebook and Twitter and Parler and the rest could be sued for allowing user posts that contained defamatory material, they would effectively have to prevent users from posting anything, which would be the end of social media.

Trump is also unhappy with the bill because it instructs the Pentagon to rename bases that are currently named after people who levied war against the United States. Technically, they committed treason, but he thinks they should be honored anyway. Which, given his behavior of late, forces one to wonder if he's dreaming of a future Fort Trump.

Whether Trump will actually veto the bill is far from sure. It passed both chambers of Congress with veto-proof majorities. There is a great danger that if Trump vetoes the bill, his veto will be overridden, making him look like a loser. On the other hand, if he can convince enough Republicans to sustain his veto, then there is a good chance the bill won't be passed this year, cutting off funding for the military. That's not something Republicans want to run on in 2022. And we have seen time and time again how Trump promises to do something and then doesn't do it, so take his promise to veto the bill with an appropriate amount of salt. (V)

Democrats Have to Decide Who Their Nemesis Is

For many Democrats, the two Georgia runoffs are pretty simple. They are not about having Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock becoming the greatest senators of all time. They are about wresting the gavel from the clutching grasp of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Ossoff and Warnock are just placeholders for "generic Democrat." So some of the ads placed by national Democrats have focused on McConnell and how a Senate led by him would block everything that Joe Biden might try to do. The candidates themselves, however, have focused almost entirely on local issues, how they can help Georgians, and how corrupt Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are.

Ossoff's campaign and Warnock's campaign have differed somewhat. Ossoff has run a few ads that say "Republicans will block everything Joe and Kamala try to do," but don't name he who shall not be named. Warnock's ads present him as a moral leader and avoid national politics altogether.

But looking a little bit forward, Democrats are having an internal debate about how the Party should campaign once Donald Trump has flown off to Florida. Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, wants to make McConnell the face of the Republican Party and attack him incessantly. Others want to continue to focus on Trump because they feel that not enough people hate McConnell the way they hate Trump. Going after George W. Bush after he left the White House would never have worked because he dropped out of politics. In contrast, Trump very much intends to lead the Republican Party from Florida, so he is still a juicy target. Also, he may continue to hold rallies and make speeches, so he will provide plenty of material for the Democrats to work with. McConnell never holds rallies and rarely says anything that can be latched onto for a negative ad.

However, other Democrats say that the obsession with Trump has prevented Democrats from making the case that the entire Republican Party is corrupt. If that had been the theme this fall, the Democrats might have won far more Senate and House races they did. Running against an unpopular congressional leader is not unheard of; Republicans ran against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for years, turning her into the devil incarnate. Potentially Democrats could do that with McConnell as well, especially since he has a long record of blocking popular bills that can be attacked. Also, he doesn't exactly ooze charisma.

But there are other voices as well. Faiz Shakir, who ran Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, doesn't want to make McConnell the bogeyman. Shakir is afraid that will take the focus off other Republicans and gives them a free ride. How does a 2022 ad attacking McConnell hurt Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) in his reelection campaign? Shakir would rather have ads in each race attack the candidate in question, not McConnell. He feels that to many voters, McConnell is a distant figure who isn't going to play a role in Senate races in Ohio or Wisconsin or anywhere. (V)

Biden Has a Secret Weapon: His Faith

Recent presidents have rarely been seen in a church, unless they were holding a rally outside and it began pouring. For Donald Trump, standing outside a church holding a Bible upside down was the extent of his faith. Barack Obama occasionally went to church on Christmas or Easter. George W. Bush was a self-proclaimed born again Christian, but if he prayed, he did it in private. Bill Clinton had a number of passions, but church wasn't one of them.

All that will change on Jan. 24th, the first Sunday after Joe Biden is sworn in. Biden, the second Catholic president, goes to mass every Sunday and will almost certainly continue to do so after being inaugurated. He hasn't said yet which church he will attend as president or whether he will visit a different church every week.

His churchgoing could have political implications. In 1960, John Kennedy's religion played a big role in the election. Until Kennedy won the primary in West Virginia, a state with relatively few Catholics, many Democrats were afraid that Protestants wouldn't vote for a Catholic. After that, it became less of an albatross around his neck. Now the amount of animosity in the country against Catholics is far less than it was in 1960. The past three speakers of the House have been Catholic, as are 6½ of the nine justices on the Supreme Court (Neil Gorsuch was raised as a Catholic but occasionally attends an Episcopalian church) and the issue of the justices' religions never came up during their confirmation hearings (although the subject of how they might rule on cases involving religion did).

However, when people see Biden voluntarily going to church every week, to pray and not to campaign, it could well have an impact on religious voters who hate Democrats because they believe Democrats hate religion and religious voters. Biden might even explicitly make the case that many Democrats go to church regularly—see me and Jill, for example. If Biden is photographed going into or coming out of a church a few hundred times in the next 4 years, it could change the perception that Democrats are anti-religion. Biden also raised his three children as Catholics, but interestingly, all three married Jews.

Kamala Harris brings diversity to the ticket in more ways than one. She was raised with Christianity and Hinduism in her home but she sometimes attended Church of God services with her neighbor. She considers herself a Black Baptist now. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, is Jewish.

It is worth noting that in much of U.S. politics, the battle is not so much one religion against others, as some religion against no religion. In 2000, Joe Lieberman was surprisingly popular with evangelicals because, even though he is an orthodox Jew, he was openly religious. So the fact that he was pro-religion counted more with some of them than the specific religion to which he adhered. Theoretically, on account of the separation of church and state, religion isn't supposed to play a role in politics, but in reality it does and Biden's could help the Democrats' image with some voters. (V)

Twenty Americans Who Explain the Election

Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, has been writing a series of long pieces all year about his interactions with voters all over the country. He has written a final wrap-up Letter to Washington to close out the year. It is based on the more than 1,000 letters he has received and people he has interviewed, located all over the country. It's not a poll and not exactly a focus group, but Alberta thinks that understanding these people will help understand the election and why the country is probably more fractured than any time since the 1860s. Here is a brief rundown of the people he talked to:

  • Chip Skelton (56), Trump voter in Tampa, FL: Skelton says he is a hippie. He doesn't own a gun and is socially liberal. He collects comics. He is an artist and a working-class conservative. His daughter isn't speaking to him because he belongs to the wrong tribe. He voted for Trump despite COVID-19 because he believes in small government, but he mourns he fact that "we've come to believe those thinking different from us are somehow evil."

  • Andrea Harp (35), Biden voter in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI: Harp, who is Black, was hoping Biden would pick a Black woman as his running mate, and she was very excited when he did. But she said that the post-election period, with new lies every day, was very stressful for her. She feels the country is shattered. She said: "I want to believe in this country so badly it hurts." But she is not very confident about the future and thinks that we have to be honest with each other for the country to heal.

  • Jess Clark (43), Biden voter in Salt Lake City, UT: Clark is a lifelong Mormon Republican who says many people in Utah curse the Democrats for lack of moral values. They like Trump because he is good at "getting things done." To Clark, it sounds like "selling your soul to the devil." To him, Trump's failings include not trying to work with the Democrats, not attempting to be decent, and valuing loyalty above ethics. So Trump had to go. But Clark is not optimistic; He expects the Democrats to use their power to escalate tensions on religious liberty, abortion, gun rights, federal judges, and being force-fed stances on LGBTQ issues. He also noted that the Republicans' sense of grievance threatens to lock the country into an inexorable cycle of polarization.

  • Ken Davis (76), Trump voter in Wheaton, IL: Davis expected Trump to lose because the Democrats commit so much election fraud it is nearly impossible for a Republican to win. Davis substantiated his claim by referencing three articles in the American Spectator, a conservative magazine. He is an educated man (a retired nuclear engineer) and not an extremist. He does not admire Trump as a person and thinks he could have been more presidential and less pugnacious. But he voted for Trump on account of his positions on immigration, judges, taxes, and regulations. He is worried about what might happen to the country if the Democrats win the two Georgia runoffs. He said: The bottom line is that the Democrats have gone completely nuts, with "defund the police," open borders, tolerance of riots, 1619, men can become women, women can become men, socialism, etc.

  • Brenda Power (60), Biden voter in Dedham, ME: Power felt betrayed by the results. Sara Gideon led in every single poll and yet Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) won easily. She also felt that Biden barely squeaked by in Wisconsin and if there had been Green Party candidates on the ballot in Arizona and Georgia, Trump would have won. She reads The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico and the local paper every day, but she doesn't have a clue about the country's mood. She thinks the constant trips by reporters to some Ohio diner every 6 months to interview four Trump voters has to stop. She voted for Biden due to Trump's immoral behavior, but her family is split 50/50 between the parties.

  • Li-Hsiang Yi (21), Biden voter in Berkeley, CA: Yi was raised in a value system that precluded a vote for Trump, yet both of his parents voted for him. His father is pastor of a conservative church, which might explain it, though. His father told him about a meeting in which a church deacon was asked by his adult child how he could vote for Trump when Trump viciously defied all the Christian characteristics the deacon had hammered into his children. The deacon had no answer. Yi's father freely admits that tens of thousands of people died due to Trump's bungling the virus. He detests Trump's behavior and how he handled the George Floyd protests. But he still voted for Trump because he believes that the Democrats will drive evangelicals out of society. Yi reads The NYT, Politico, and The Atlantic, but his parents think they are all biased beyond redemption and are deep in the electoral fraud rabbit hole.

  • Louis Knapp (78), Trump voter in Winchester, VA: In the past five years, Alberta has discovered that the people most offended by Hillary Clinton's "deplorables" line weren't the tobacco-spitting, rifle-lugging, Bible-thumping cariculatures of the left's fever dreams, but upscale, affluent, well-educated people like Knapp, who ran a large consulting firm. He hates the Democratic know-it-alls who think they have truth by the tail and are endowed by God with the task of stuffing their wisdom down the throats of non-believers. Nevertheless, Knapp called Trump arrogant and overbearing but voted for him due to the Second Amendment. He believes that conservatives have their backs to the wall and no further compromise is tolerable.

  • Charlie Wilson (63), Kanye West voter in White Salmon, WA: Wilson has had two professional careers, has traveled to all 50 states and 26 countries, is a life member of the NRA, used to be a Democrat for 40 years, and drives a pick-up truck and an electric car. And is married to a man. He has noticed the historical reversal of the Democrats formerly being the working man's party, and now sees them as the party of the elites. He said: "If Democrats want to "unify" the country—and frankly I don't believe they do—they'd get off their god damned high horses for once, and ditch their overweening, self-declared superiority, and join the human race." He hates both parties, hence the vote for West.

  • Cynthia Browning (57), Trump voter in Cleveland, OH: Browning, who is Black and a lawyer, is sickened by Black children being murdered every day by Black people and is upset that other Black people don't acknowledge this. She believes the election was stolen because when she went to bed on Nov. 3, Trump was ahead but in the morning, Biden was ahead. So there must have been massive fraud during the night. She fears the country is headed for another Civil War. When Alberta pressed her about fraud, she said she saw a video of poll workers in Atlanta secretly counting suitcases of ballots, a story that even Fox News has debunked. She would not be surprised if there were armed conflict if Biden is inaugurated.

  • Brady James (28), Biden voter in Dallas, TX: James asked Alberta to visit his ultra-conservative family in his hometown of Fairfield, TX, but also Dallas, where he works for an LGBTQ advocacy group. James is exhausted because he fights with his family (which believes that Democrats are trying to destroy the country) all the time. An especially sensitive issue is gay rights. He feels that there is no hope. If he can't get along with his own family, how are strangers who have different views ever going to come together?

  • Steven Rosenthal (67), Biden voter in Honolulu, HI: Rosenthal's primary gripe is with the two-party system. He said: "This duopoly is attached like a barnacle to the ship of state." As to the election, he said most people are more discriminating about choosing a car mechanic than a president. He said that Trump's basic incompetence disqualifies him and that most people who voted for him wouldn't want him as a boss, a coworker, or a subordinate. He thinks they vote for president like they might vote for a contestant on a TV reality show. He believes the parties are responsible for making sure their nominees have the basic core competence and the Republicans failed. He also noted that all the people in the chain of command of our nuclear arsenal must pass a rigorous security clearance—except the person with his finger on the trigger.

  • Diana Douglas (55), Trump voter in Lake County, FL: Douglas is a lifelong Republican. She voted for Trump even though she knows he is a mean-spirited and arrogant person. But Biden is a bridge too far because he will raise her taxes to support a left-leaning agenda. She is not willing to jeopardize her comfortable existence because politicians think we should support their political agendas. So Trump is the lesser of two evils. She bemoans the fact that her family is irrevocably split. She and her husband voted for Trump but their daughters voted for Biden and begged their parents to do likewise.

  • Duane Coyle (64), nonvoter in Wichita, KS: Coyle is angry about a lot of things, including how voters flocked to Trump as a "middle finger" to the elites, what politics has done to his family, and how the Democratic Senate nominee in his home state, Barbara Bollier, pronounces her name the French way: Boll-yay. He said he has been a social-issue liberal since junior high school. He doesn't care about transgenderism but also thinks that a cake maker shouldn't have to make a cake for a transgender coming out party. He is also against higher taxes and doesn't like the idea of being forced to march down the street self-flagellating because he is a successful white man in his 50s. He said Americans treat politics the way Europeans treat soccer. If there were no cops, we would happily kill the other side's fans. He also regrets the lack of a military draft because (up until Vietnam), people met all kinds of other people in the military and came to respect them. Now Americans have little in common. Maybe if China declared war on us we'd come together, but we'd probably lose because we are not the people who beat the Germans and the Japanese.

  • Kevin Henderson (59), Biden voter in Oakland, CA: The other two Black voters in the list were split: Andrea Harp was very enthusiastic for Biden and Cynthia Browning left the "plantation" and voted for Trump. Henderson was in the middle. Henderson is a Christian and is turned off by the Democrats' lack of respect for faith. But he knows that while Democrats won't make things better for Black folks, Republicans will actively make them worse. He said that his family has never given up on America, despite the generations of slavery and Jim Crow, and not knowing if it would ever end. He made a pretty good list of the problems facing America: racial inequality, climate change, old infrastructure, and health care costs. But he is still optimistic because Americans get things done, even if it takes longer than it should.

  • Lucy Horton (75), Biden voter in Allentown, PA: Horton, a Democratic activist, hoped for a blue wave. When she was out on the street, she was taken aback by the intensity of the Trump supporters. Viewed from afar, Trumpism looks like a hatefest, but viewed close up, it is a lovefest. Clearly Trump was feeding them something they needed. Partly it is guns and partly it is white pride, she said. Although she is an optimist, Horton is worried that millions of people have no ability to determine what is a fact. She sees the denialism surrounding COVID-19 presaging what could happen in an existential threat, like an asteroid strike or a dramatic climate event. A lot of people wouldn't believe it. She hopes people will warm to Uncle Joe, but thinks a large sector is beyond his reach.

  • Sean Gawne (59), Trump voter in Mission Viejo, CA: Some voters want to see the country come together and some are preparing for civil war. Gawne is in both camps. He sees how addiction to divisive politics and Facebook and Twitter are tearing families and friendships apart. But he sees Biden's role as telling Democrats they played a role in tearing the country apart. On the other hand, he believes Republicans have shown great restraint, while stocking up on ammo and taking target practice. He believes that if Biden takes office after pulling off the most brazen fraud in history, there will be angry people with guns and it won't turn out well. When Alberta told Gawne that AG William Barr said there was no fraud and all the right-wing video clips about fraud have been debunked, he said that the people debunking those videos are the same ones that claimed Trump was a Russian plant and an illegitimate president. He simply doesn't believe those sources anymore.

  • Aime Wichtendahl (40), Biden voter in Hiawatha, IA: Wichtendahl believes that when Americans are looking to authoritarianism or socialism to fix their problems, we have to admit that the center has failed. Politics is an arms race in which disarmament means the other side will permanently defeat them. She grew up idolizing Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, but now is a staunch Democrat on account of the Democrats' support for the transgender community. She hopes that none of the current old politicians run in 2024, opening the way for younger stars like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Nikki Haley. Then progress may be possible.

  • Michael Bingham (53), Trump voter in Greer, SC: Bingham said: "I can't stand Trump. I held my nose to vote for him [in 2016] but I will PROUDLY vote for him this year." He said that Marxists and Communists were taking over the Democratic Party and there is no negotiating with those people. He expects violence from the left all the time, so he packs a gun every day. While he knows people who couldn't stomach Trump, he hates the Marxists so much that he couldn't vote for any Democrat right now. As to why the Democrats lost downballot, Bingham said: "Most people understand that they are NOT racist, homophobic, knuckle-dragging mouth breathers and they are damned tired of being treated as if that is precisely what and who they are." He also said that the mainstream media has absolutely no understanding of ordinary Americans, just as the pollsters have no idea how to poll right-of-center Americans.

  • Ken Brown (58), Don Blankenship voter in Trenton, MI: Brown was always part of the Evangelical-Republican alliance, but when it became more enamored with power than with its former convictions and was willing to sacrifice its moral reputation in order to win, he was out of there. He voted for Trump in 2016 because his conscience would not allow him to vote for Hillary Clinton, but he felt voting was a civic duty. This time he voted for the Constitution Party's candidate, Don Blankenship, on account of abortion. Brown is surprised that so many members of his own tribe voted for Trump after all his lies and crimes. He agonized over how many people can blind to so much, but blames it on Fox, OAN, and even Alex Jones.

  • Grazie Christie (51), Trump voter in Miami, FL: Christie is a Latina who voted for Trump in 2016 along with a gringo husband who did so while holding his nose. Now both of them are all in on Trump. She said that Miami Latinos are crazy about Trump because he makes them feel safe from the socialism that destroyed their home countries. He speaks patriotically about America, in contrast to the Democrats who have nothing but contempt for it. Christie noted that Republicans believe in things that speak to Latinos, especially (the classic kind of) family, country, God, and freedom, while Democrats talk about identity politics, their anti-religious bias, and their gender ideology. After the election, she was elated about Trump's success in Florida but dismayed about his defeat nationally. She believes that Biden won due to election fraud, with dead people voting and the like. She was especially upset about the stereotypes of the Trump voter: idiots, racists, homophobes, etc. To her, the left is anger and violence, practiced by Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

This is clearly not a representative sample of anything, but it does have a few consistent themes. For one, Trump voters despise the media and the left for viewing them as racist, bigoted, dumb, deplorable, yahoos. For another, they swallow conspiracy theories whole, without chewing, and believe the election was stolen, because, well, everybody knows that. Some of them think there is hope because when the old politicians get out of the way, younger and better ones will take over. But the flip side of that is that younger voters are heavily Democratic, so no matter how telegenic Marco Rubio may be, he's probably going to lose if he is pitted against AOC. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec13 Sunday Mailbag
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Dec12 Saturday Q&A
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