The great man simply could not wait; it is not on account of lack of patience but in seeing an opponent inching his way legitimately to victory. Right from the very beginning, Donald Trump and his cronies have been against mail-in ballots taking on a bogus line that it creates massive fraud in an electoral process. But cleverly after seeing a lead in some of the critical battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Trump wanted the counting halted because a ‘big fraud’ was being perpetrated by the Democrats.
Just what it is the big man refused to spell out as always. Only that he wanted counting stopped—of course he said voting!
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The fear of the man in the White House is that when all chips are down and counted, Joseph Biden could well come from behind and make up for the shortfall and in the process take him past 270 Electoral College votes that is needed to get into the White House. For a person who gets up in the wee hours of the morning to fire off a barrage of mostly offensive tweets, the President had a Press Meet at about 2 am his time to announce not only that he had won by a massive margin but is going to the Supreme Court to stop the process from proceeding. This naturally brought about a fiery response from the Democrats and the Biden team who have accused the President’s attempt as ‘outrageous’ and ‘unprecedented’ and vowed to fight in the courts. “The counting will not stop. It will continue until every duly cast vote is counted,” the Biden campaign said.
When Trump dropped his bombshell, he was behind Biden 238 to 213 in the electoral college vote with some key states like Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania yet to be called officially. And Trump was leading Biden handsomely in Georgia, by a small fraction in Michigan and by about 1 per cent in North Carolina. Even before the election voting process began there was an opinion that Texas and Georgia, in spite of all the last-minute tightening, will stay with the Grand Old Party; Texas did and perhaps Georgia too when the counting is over. In insisting that the counting has to be stopped Trump and his coterie are perhaps hoping to argue before courts that the victory be declared on an as-is-where-is basis which would automatically put the incumbent President over the top in terms of the electoral-college vote. How the briefs are filed and at which level of the courts will determine how long this drama is going to be played out. It is not unusual in an election for a state to take days to announce the final result given the time taken in assembling and counting mail in votes especially.
The Federal interactive: US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS 2020
It is more than an early morning shocker for many Americans who were hoping—against hopes—of a peaceful end to an agonizing process and at a highly emotionally disturbed environment in the country by way of a pandemic that has claimed over 230,000 lives. As lawyers of the two sides start butting heads in the next several days, a quiet soul searching will be under way in both parties to see where things fell apart. This is especially so for the Democrats and Joseph Biden who really believed that American people cutting across party lines will see through the huff and fluff of the last four years and usher in a new era in the hope that the pains of the last nine months will slowly go away.
At one time there was this thinking that Democrats are not only poised to take over the White House but also wrest control of the Senate and improve their fortunes in the House of Representatives. Now short of a miracle, Trump will remain in the White House, the Democrats have lost a few seats in the House and have not been able to make any appreciable dent in the Senate. The public opinion polls, both nationally and in the battleground states, continue to remain elusive since the time Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the 2016 race; and that is for polling pundits and agencies to once again try and figure out where things fell apart. Just because Trump calls them ‘fake polls’ does not make them fake or dubious.
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Trump has set the perfect stage for a confrontation and this is well within his line of thinking: if he had won the election convincingly he would have passed it off as a will of the people; now that he is trailing and running scared of what the mail-in ballots may have in store, American people are being cheated! If the courts come out against him, then it will be a concerted conspiracy of all. Supporters of the President have maintained that they expect violence in the streets should Trump win; but are unwilling to answer the flip side of the coin: will there be peace on the streets if Biden is declared the winner fair and square? As long as all red states remained the same way and many of the battleground states going his way, Trump seemed to have no problem. Trouble started when Biden retired for the night at his home in Delaware assuring supporters that things were on track for victory.
(The writer was a former senior journalist in Washington D.C. covering North America and the United Nations).