You are not alone if you are nervous about tomorrow night and what might possibly follow. A recent study by the American Psychological Association revealed that 68% of Americans said the 2020 election was a significant source of stress. So said 78% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans in the study. Democrats especially remember the premature euphoria off 2016. Clinton female supporters had Champagne ready to celebrate the shattering of the glass ceiling. Instead they came up empty. Many on the Democratic side refuse to believe the polls that show Biden ahead even in the swing states.
One woman, to protect herself from another night of trauma, has convinced herself or tried to tell her brain over and over again, to expect another Trump win. Secretly, she hopes to be pleasantly surprised. Republicans are concerned that a Trump loss will lead to a loss of the Senate. And according to U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, the Republican Party today is already headed downhill. The business-friendly Wall Street Journal reports that business now prefers Biden as a known quantity because Trump is too erratic. So much angst. But wait. There’s much more.
James Carville, he of the shaved head and Louisiana drawl, who spearheaded Bill Clinton’s victory with the slogan “It’s the Economy, Stupid,” has proclaimed that we will know the results by 11 p.m. on election night and it will be a big win for Biden. Especially if Trump loses Florida, which he probably won’t. With all the absentee ballots to be counted, and some, by law in some states not until Election Day, it seems unlikely that Carville is right. There are also the fights over mail-in ballots, what should be allowed, what should be tossed out, what restrictions are unconstitutional and what court rulings might do in the interim. There are the long lines, the breakdown of voting machines, the promise of threatening poll watchers, the slowdown in mail deliveries, the complications of the pandemic to consider.
If there is no winner election night, and we have been warned there will not be, when will we know? What will happen in the interim. The FBI has indicated this is when the Russians will really flex their muscle via social media and call for disruptive actions. Then there is always the issue if Trump will go quietly if he loses. Will he refuse to leave saying the election is rigged and it must be decided by the Supreme Court or will he call out his Proud Boys to riot. On the other side, if the election goes to the Supreme Court for a decision and the court rules in favor of Trump even though he has lost the popular vote, will the Democrats turn to the streets to protest? Has your angst level increased?
Local races are important too but they don’t seem to inspire the end-of-the-world scenarios as the presidential election. So good luck to all the candidates running for city council and school board. Apologies for not giving you your due in this wild presidential race. And thank you to each and every one of you for your willingness to serve. But the angst continues over who will win the presidency and the senate. David Oshinsky reminds us that there have been other elections more transformative. The most significant he says was the Lincoln-McClellan race in 1864. Lincoln was running for re-election during hard times for the Union side in the Civil War. McClellan was the general he had just fired. All bets were on McClellan as southern troops advanced north but then Sherman wired the president in September about his victory in Atlanta and the country was saved. It’s only one day to go, and no General Sherman to the rescue.
So as the astute Willie Brown reminds us, no one is sure who is going to win. Ouch!
Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.