Take it from us, America: When the vote’s in the mail, it often means you don’t get to know who won for a day or two.
Or three, or sometimes ten.
And so this marks the second time in most of our lives we’ve grudgingly trooped off to bed not knowing who would be the nation’s next president (the other time was in 2000).
Just that fact — that this election is too close to call — is a symbolic victory for Donald Trump. He’s trailed all year in the polls, but the guy sure can rally his troops when it counts. He’s a historically unpopular president, the first one to never top 50% in public approval over his term. Yet even as he’s losing the popular vote for a second time, he still may somehow eke out a win in the only poll that counts.
Or not — we’ll have to wait to see. Some of the battleground states have yet to count up to half their votes, due to widespread pandemic adoption of Washington state’s awesome but quirky mail-in voting. So some states are signaling they may not have more definitive results until Friday.
The whole nation is Washington now. We’ll see how it survives the vote shifts that inevitably come with our slow-counting ways.
Ironically there is no such cliffhanger here — mostly because Trump is being walloped here by historic margins. Democrat Joe Biden leads Trump in this state by 24 points, which, if it holds, would be the biggest wipeout for any presidential candidate in this state since 1964, when Lyndon Johnson thrashed Barry Goldwater by 24.6 points.
It was women who did it. According to the National Election Pool’s survey of local voters, Trump carried Washington state’s men by two points, 48% to 46%. But he was torpedoed by the state’s women, who backed Biden by 34 points, 66% to 32%. That’s no gender “gap” but a chasm.
That survey of 704 confirmed voters in our state also revealed the deep well of hostility here for Trump. Trump actually won among voters enthused about their candidate. But Biden won by 58 points among voters who were mostly out to bring down the other guy.
OK, so the state’s women have clearly had enough of Trump.
Yet this wipeout at the top curiously didn’t seem to create much of a blue wave down the ballot. All three GOP Congress members in the state were doing fine Tuesday, including GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who all fall was embroiled in a $10 million fight in her southwest Washington district. Despite backing Trump, Herrera Beutler looked to be cruising to reelection.
Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman also was leading, though by a narrow 3.5 points. If Wyman wins reelection, she will likely be the last Republican statewide elected official left on the ever-bluer West Coast.
Meanwhile farther down ballot it looks mostly as was foreshadowed by the August primary — Democrats may gain two more Puget Sound-area seats in the state Senate but lose one out in the reddening Grays Harbor area. So the blue parts of our state continue to get much bluer. While the red parts, even with Trump at the top of the ticket, seem likely to get a bit redder.
Trump is such a polarizing figure, who brings out such extraordinary passions, on both sides. Maybe local voters were just spent when they got to the rest of the ballot.
Well rest up, everyone. As if we haven’t had enough, the upcoming week of waiting (and the campaigns’ fighting and suing) may be a rough one for the record books.