By Arul Louis
New York, Nov 4 (IANS) The United States did not wake up to a new blue dawn on Wednesday and instead a fog of uncertainty engulfed it after an uneventful election day, with no clear winners and races too close to call and millions of votes still to be counted.
The sweep that Democrats had hoped for failed to materialise and the day started with 238 electoral votes for Democratic candidate Joe Biden and 213 for President Donald Trump, with another 87 to be determined, many from swing states crucial to a victory.
A win needs 278 electoral college votes.
According to NBC, 68.6 million votes had been counted for Biden and 66 million for Trump who is lagging by 2.6 million votes, with 23.1 million to be tallied.
The presidency now likely hinges on the outcomes in about six states – Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with 83 electoral college seats. Trump leads in four of them and Biden in two.
The US presidential election is based on an electoral college with a proportional representation of state representatives enabling a candidate to win with fewer popular votes if the electoral college votes were more.
Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 in the electoral college although he got 2.8 million fewer popular votes.
Before the vote counting can be concluded and early results showing him faring better than many predictions, Trump in keeping with his character created chaos by claiming in a confused statement around 2 a.m. that there was “fraud” and an unidentified “they” were trying to “steal the election”.
He said he was going to the Supreme Court to get it to stop all “voting”.
He probably meant counting because the voting was already over and his promised court action was aimed at the postal ballots that will be received in states like Pennsylvania, days after the close of polling.
Trump had walked into a trap set by Biden who had over an hour earlier made a discreet claim of victory saying, “We’re gonna win this.”
“I’m here to tell you tonight we believe we’re on track to win this election.” But he added, “It ain’t over until every vote is counted.”
Even if Trump were to win, it would be a victory tainted by his own questioning of the process.
What are carried in the media as results are not official results, but in reality only projections based on the votes counted and if the remaining ones would alter the projections while the count may continue.
The Senate appeared to be set to remain in Republican Party control and the Democrats may not increase their majority in the House of Representatives.
Republicans had won 47 seats in the 100-member Senate and Democrats 46, with eight left to be determined, according to NBC.
So far each party has flipped only one seat.
In one of the Senate seats in Georgia, two Republicans ran against each other and a Democrat and since none of them won a clear majority, there will be a run-off between the top two vote-getters, a Democrat and a Republican and it may happen as late as January.
In the House of Representatives, the Democrats are sure to keep their majority, but have lost several seats, among them that of Donna Shalala, who was Health Secretary in former President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet.
NBC projects that Democrats will get at least 227 seats and the Republicans 205 – a gain of eight seats in the 435-member chamber.
The Democrats had made the election a referendum on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, training their firepower on what they said was his incompetence that has resulted in about 225,000 American deaths.
But even if Trump were to lose the election, the election result would not be the severe indictment that had been projected by the Democrats and many in the media.
The silent majority skewered the picture before the election. Because of “wokeism” – the strident version of political correctness which led to swift denunciation of any views considered outside the framework of radical-liberal thought, people were afraid to express their support for Republicans in public or even to pollsters.
In many circles, any questioning of the Democratic Party or even mild support for Trump led to social ostracism or worse.
Trump’s record on the economy, despite cratering when the virus from China hit the US and only slowly climbing back, seemed to have counted among many voters. Before the pandemic, there was record employment and the stock markets were doing well.
Biden and the national Democratic leadership bluntly condemned Trump’s attempts to open up the economy leading to Trump’s jibes about “Basement Biden” locking up the country.
Yet, many state and local Democrat leaders were pushing to open their areas, for example New York Mayor Bill de Blasio going against teachers’ objections to opening schools.
The unrest from the anti-racism and anti-police protests, accompanied by the waves of violence and looting, and a steep rise in crimes, created an atmosphere of insecurity and Trump exploited it.
Biden and other leaders would not unequivocally condemn the violence for fear of alienating the ascendant Left in the party and instead talk in generalities about holding those responsible accountable.
While the party’s Left screamed for cutting police budgets or even abolishing the department, many Democrats running for office saw the problem and distanced themselves from the Left.
Like many of his fellow Democrats, Indian American New York State Senator Kevin Thomas ran TV ads expressing his support for the police and funding them and he was re-elected.
The damage to the party from the Democratic Party’s extreme Left and its allies can be distilled in the defeat of Sri Preston Kulkarni, who had a lead of five per cent in a GBAO poll and RealClear Politics called the seat a toss-up.
A combination of the Left, Indian secularists and Islamists started a campaign against him alleging that he was linked to the RSS and “Hindutva ideology”, all because he attended the ‘Howdy Modi’ rally in Houston with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump last year and one of the donors to his campaign was a Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh leader.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)