On Election Night, We Might Not Know Who Won

Mish

If the election is close we may not know the winner for days.

Election Night Confusion

An NBC/WSJ Poll on expected mail-in votes might cause some very misleading if not totally inaccurate reporting on who is in the lead depending on when mail-in votes get counted.

  • Supporters of Democratic candidate Joe Biden are significantly more likely than Trump backers to say they plan to vote by mail. Nearly half – 47 percent – say they plan to mail in their ballot, with an additional 21 percent saying they will cast a vote before Election Day at an early in-person voting site. Only about a quarter of Biden voters, 26 percent, plan to vote on Election Day at a polling place.
  • In contrast, two-thirds of Trump’s voters — 66 percent — say they will vote in person on Election Day. Just 11 percent say they plan to vote by mail, and 20 percent say they will vote early in person

Weird Consequences 

Due to the above, FiveThirtyEight notes the Consequences Might Be Weird.

If this holds, it would mean votes cast on Election Day would skew heavily toward Trump, and votes cast by mail would skew heavily toward Biden. This has serious implications for … well, democracy. First, Trump could argue the mail ballots (which, remember, could account for most of Biden’s votes) were fraudulent and thus should not be counted. Although it’s unlikely they’d actually be thrown out, this would damage the credibility of the election in the eyes of many Trump supporters. Second, it could mean the first votes counted on election night will be disproportionately good for Trump, who might claim victory based on incomplete returns. It might not be until days later, after a good chunk of the Democratic-leaning mail vote is counted, that Biden pulls ahead.

Let’s do a quick-and-dirty exercise to show what I mean. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll overall, Biden led Trump by 9 percentage points among registered voters. But Biden led Trump by 63 points (!) among voters who planned to vote by mail, and Trump led Biden by 33 points among voters who planned to vote in person on Election Day. If this kind of partisan split occurred in every state, Biden would win the mail vote in all 50 states — from Alabama to Wyoming — and Trump would win the Election Day vote in all 50.

Prepare for Trump to Claim Biden Stole the Election

The above scenario in all 50 states isn't likely, but it is likely in some states. 

The election day results could easily swing Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and that could swing the election night apparent winner.

Trump will howl and his supporters will believe him. 

Some of my friends believe Trump will refuse to stand down, but I am sure it would not come to that. 

A bluff in that direction, however, is another matter.

Chaos could last for days or even weeks in such a scenario with severe consequences on the stock market as well as potential riots which Trump would then try to pin on Biden.

Mish

Comments (46)
No. 1-21
Vigorish
Vigorish

NIXON now more than ever !

Carl_R
Carl_R

Just remember that if it isn't resolved by January 20th, Pelosi becomes President on the 21st, so I'm sure it will be resolved before that.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

I am 100% certain there will not be a certified winner in multiple swing states. Then Trump could begin challenging the election in multiple states which would lead up to the Supreme court. In the end I feel the court would not rule his favor because cases Trump has brought before without merit have been thrown out. We may have to wait until January so the uncertainty could drive the markets and the dollar batty. This is how autocracies start. I have no doubt if we get stuck with Trump in 2021 then Don Jr will run in 2024 and we will get more of the same.

BillSanDiego
BillSanDiego

Or weeks, months, or until the Supreme Court decides for us.

Tengen
Tengen

That's okay, I'm sure several weeks of constant post-election bickering and uncertainty won't exacerbate our already alarming political divide.

Sechel
Sechel

we've been here before. Remember the hanging chad?

Felix_Mish
Felix_Mish

Let's hear from someone who has participated in mail-in vote-counting in states that use it heavily. What percentage of ballots come in after election day? (I'd expect a low %, and in the morning after, pretty much all are in and countable.)

Several states do mail-in heavily. Given that the phone lines are up between US states, there really isn't much excuse for states new to high-volume mail-in to screw up. But, then, remember the Iowa fiasco this year?

Webej
Webej

First election in which an uncertain outcome belongs to the strategy in advance ... there are thousands of people already getting together to figure out how they can weaponize an uncertain outcome in their favor.

caradoc-again
caradoc-again

Some people might not want to know, depending on the outcome.

caradoc-again
caradoc-again

Depending on how conscientious the winner is they will likely regret having won and look back and have been pleased not to have ever known.

It really is that bad.

Rocky Raccoon
Rocky Raccoon

The most technologically advanced society in the world may soon be a joke if this thing drags on and the technology we have to prevent such a disaster isn't used.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

Simple Solution.

Since the ONLY thing that matters is the stock market.

Have the day after election be Trump Day ... market gain / loss duly noted.

Have the day after Trump Day be Biden Day ... market gain / loss duly noted.

Next POTUS would be hoo does better in market.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

Who is Diebold (now Premier Election Solutions) voting for??

indc
indc

Any bets on when Mish will switch his support to Trump?

KidHorn
KidHorn

I requested mail in ballots in MD for my wife and me. Had to give a drivers license number or a state issued ID number. Kind of surprising since the democrats are historically strongly against having to supply a valid ID to vote, because it's racist, and MD is a heavily democratic state.

magoomba
magoomba

In Diebold We Trust.

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

Colorado has done mail-in voting for years. In my county it is the default voting method.
But the bigger issue is just why we have to treat election night like a footbaaaaahulllll game and know before we go to bed who won. The founding fathers put the election process in November to give everyone time to tabulate the votes. Plenty of time to figure out who won. Not the most exciting TV for sure, but it's a political election, not "America's Got (no) Talent!" And of course the question overarching it all is why are we to the point that the federal elections matter as much as they do, but that's a whole other rant...

Herkie
Herkie

interesting new poll added today at 538, the Alaska senator, Sullivan, seeking reelection is TIED with the dem challenger Gross. Alaska totally off everyone's radar because it is reliably red, now is in play at least for the senate seat, and if that one flips the dems will control the senate.

wmjack
wmjack

I guess Democrats don't go to the Grocery Store either

edk38
edk38

On Election Night, We Might Not Care Who Won

Has any Presidential election over the last half century really made a meaningful difference, or it is just another rung on the ladder leading us down into a darker and deeper hole?