Whatever Happens, It Should Not Be This Close

Whatever Happens, It Should Not Be This Close

Whatever Happens, It Should Not Be This Close

Biden is still likely to win, but polling was way off. Why? Are Americans that terrible?


Former vice president Joe Biden was the overwhelming favorite, according to the best polls. And the best polls of polls. All the polls corrected their mistakes from 2016, they said. Biden was even given a decent chance to take Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina—three states that, demographically, are going blue, but have wallowed in red for too long.

I believed all of it.

Wednesday, we’re all hoping Biden will gut out a win in the so-called “blue wall” states that Donald Trump took from Hillary Clinton four years ago, and looking away from the Southern states that were supposed to swing left. It still seems very possible, but it’s still very scary. So what happened?

Right now, I honestly have no idea.

I believed in the idea of a landslide, because it should have been a landslide. I thought the ultimate tally would reflect the grief of losing 235,000 people to Covid. I hoped it would reflect our shame about the thousands of families torn apart at the border. I thought there would be a multiracial uprising against the police violence that killed George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, and, going back through the years, hundreds and probably thousands more unarmed black people.

And four years later, I still thought women would grab this alleged rapist by the ballot, and throw him out into the streets—even if we didn’t four years ago.

Some of that may still happen. But my heart is broken that it wasn’t a landslide.

I think we should all pause, and breathe, no matter what time it is where you are. Biden is gaining votes. I wrote last month that we wouldn’t know the winner election night—I talked about “Election Month.” I still believe that. Right now, I think Biden will ultimately win—but I’m not sure. I’m not here to claim victory. I’m here to say: I’m ashamed of our country.

It also seems, as I write, that Democrats didn’t win the Senate, as they were mostly projected to do. And even lost seats in the House? That could change too. But I’m not even thinking about it yet.

What I do know is that Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris went, repeatedly, to the states Hillary Clinton was accused (not entirely fairly) of neglecting. Biden went hard in support of unions, everywhere. Harris went hard on criminal justice reform—and the economic injustice the pandemic has put on display. I cannot say they neglected either states or issues this year. They will probably outdo Clinton—but not by the margins to be expected, given their time in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

I’m sure there are folks who will blame Biden and Harris for real and imagined campaign flaws. Right now, I can’t. I blame us. Way too much of our country consists of racists who prefer white supremacy to equality. I can’t see this any other way right now.

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Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

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