Newsletter by Mary Buffett
Election Night turned into Election Week.
As we all watched Election Night, the political journey mirrored the twists and turns we have all experienced since the start of this year: a sense of disbelief combined with a healthy dose of fear, but with hope for the future.
When it is all said and done, an estimated 160 million Americans will have voted, roughly 66.5% of those eligible. 100 million people cast their votes prior to Election Day, either by mail or by walk-in early voting. As a result, 2020 gave us the highest percentage of voters in over 100 years.
Both sides motivated their voters.
Joe Biden’s popular vote totals will probably exceed 80 million votes and Donald Trump will probably settle in at the 75 million mark. To put things into perspective, Barack Obama won a landslide victory over John McCain in 2008 with a mere 69 million popular votes, a figure which remained unbroken until last week.
For Democrats, Election Day began with a sense of great hope. There were early visions of upsets for Democrats in Texas and Florida, but they quickly faded. There was a much stronger turnout for Trump than any pollster expected, and a great deal of anxiety fell over Blue States. While the high voter turnout for Republicans may have fallen short on the presidential side, it may have saved their Senate majority.
However, we all know that American presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College, not by popular votes. Since 1992, Democrats have won 7 of the 8 popular totals but have won only 5 of the last 8 Electoral College votes. Biden was able to flip five states where it mattered, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and at press time, Arizona.
After several days of waiting, CNN and other media institutions called the race for Biden Saturday morning. If these numbers hold, Biden will emerge with 306 Electoral votes, the same number Trump received in 2016.
So where do we go from here?
There appears to be two different narratives in play. President-Elect Biden has begun an orderly transition process without any help or assistance from the Trump White House. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has not conceded anything and is busily fundraising to pay for legal efforts in contested states like Pennsylvania. However, at some point, each state will certify their totals and send their electoral votes to be tabulated in the US Senate, as has been the custom since the founding of the republic.
It will soon be over.
However, between now and Inauguration Day, Donald Trump will not exit like other incumbent presidents who have lost. He has already begun a purge of political appointees who have offended him in one manner or another; Defense Secretary Esper was fired via Twitter and many think that FBI Director Wray and CIA Chief Haspel are being readied for the chopping block.
There is a juvenile pettiness involved because these posts would be leaving as the Trump Administration ends, which is only in a matter of weeks. It is being done in spite, like shooting people as the Titanic sinks.
However, I would be extremely interested to see what happens in the waning days of the Trump Administration when the final pardons are announced. I would wager that all of Trump’s associates who found themselves in legal hot water will find a federal pardon, with the sole exception of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
However, one final chapter of political drama remains in Georgia.
Because of a unique twist, Georgia had two senate races that have moved to the runoff stage because neither incumbent was able to garner 50% on election night. So, Democrat Jon Ossoff will take on Republican incumbent David Perdue for one seat. Democrat Raphael Warnock will run against Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler for the other. For Democrats to control the Senate, they must win both seats in Georgia, which will be a tall order. If Democrats fail, Mitch McConnell will stymie any Biden agenda.
How will the market react?
At the end of the day, the marketplace craves in a sense of consistency and a steady hand at the wheel, even if most corporate heads don’t agree with the new president politically. No CEO wants to have a target on his back from an angry presidential tweet with 93 million followers. No corporate leadership team wants to experience the whiplash when the President of the United States generates inflammatory or contradictory tweets at 3AM because he could not sleep.
Yet, there is much work to be done
The American and Chinese relationship is symbiotic in nature and both need each other to thrive. The trade war with China has hurt American farmers who had grown used to the lucrative Asian marketplace. While the current Chinese-American relationship is complex, US political and corporate leadership need to play from the same page, something that has been missing since the days when Deng Xiaoping began to transform the Chinese economy.
The great concern is how both sides will deal with the growing political military and regional competition between a mature superpower and a vibrant upstart. That will take a deft hand on either side, something that we have not seen over the past four years.
China is not without its own challenges, which may find more American airtime now that the domestic political drama of the past four years will not consume all of the oxygen. Can a growing global power like China be sustained when there is political unrest at home? At some point large screen televisions, automobiles, and other western goods might not be enough for a restless and educated population. For some in Beijing, perhaps reviewing what happened to the old Soviet Union might serve as a cautionary tale of what to avoid in the 21st century.
However, soon things will return to normal.
Republicans will gripe about taxes and deficits, claiming political amnesia from the deficits of the Trump years. Democrats will try to contain their left wing media stars from dominating the narrative.
Somehow, we will lurch forward. Hopefully, all of the parties can find common ground to serve the American people.
And so it goes.