The Pennsylvania Avenue
November 5, 2020
While we may not have official election results, we’re happy to bring you the results from the Daily Pnut’s 2020 Presidential Straw Poll! We heard from nearly 1,000 Pnutters, giving us an interesting insight into the pulse of our readership.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” — Abraham Lincoln
The Pennsylvania Avenue
(Spencer Platt via Getty Images)
As of midnight on Wednesday, the US presidential election was still too close to call. But in Day Two of this extended electoral frenzy, former vice president Joe Biden scored significant wins in key states like Wisconsin and Michigan that widened his path to victory — while President Donald Trump mounted a legal attack on the procedural counting of mail-in votes in the remaining battleground states as his lead dwindled.
Biden is within a stone’s throw of the presidency with 253 electoral votes on his way to 270, while Trump sits with 213 — relying on wins in Pennsylvania and Georgia to buoy his reelection campaign. Those are states where Trump is currently leading, but the continued counting of mail-in ballots is allowing Biden to gain ground. The inverse is occurring in Arizona and Nevada, where Biden is seeing his early lead diminish. With five states still up in the air, Pennsylvania remains the ultimate prize. If Biden wins this state in the next couple of hours, he will become the 46th President of the United States. Call it the “Pennsylvania Avenue.”
For Trump, there exists a much slimmer course to a second term. He must win Pennsylvania, along with outpacing Biden’s late momentum in Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada. In light of these bleak prospects, the incumbent has instead shifted attention to the courts, where he announced his intention to challenge results in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
While Biden’s two victories along the blue wall marked the most significant developments of the day, election delirium hit a fever pitch early in the day. In a 2 am EST surprise press conference, Trump prematurely declared himself the winner of the election. This claim was patently false, and the notion that Trump could assert his own victory before the vote count was finished was met with backlash from Democrats and Republicans alike. In response to Trump’s public attack on the legitimacy of the election, protests broke out across America on Wednesday night. Conservative activists rallied outside of an Arizona election center demanding that votes be counted properly, while left-wing protestors echoed similar sentiments in cities across America.
As the nation enters its third day of electoral uncertainty with no clear end in sight, eyes should remain glued on states like Pennsylvania and Georgia. A Thursday call for either of these states in Biden’s favor would all but guarantee a resolute ending to this historic election.
The World Is Watching
- America’s nail-biting election is being watched, and judged, by countries around the world. As President Trump complained of a “major fraud on our nation” and falsely claimed victory before millions of votes had been tallied, Chinese social media users were both amused and scornful. “Whether [Trump] wins or loses, his final mission is to destroy the appearance of American democracy,” wrote one Weibo user.
- Chinese state media branded the election as “divisive, tense and chaotic” — marred by “unrest, mud-slinging and money politics.” Images were shown of boarded-up shops and riot-geared National Guard troops preparing for possible post-election violence. The editor of a nationalistic tabloid tweeted: “This kind of unrest is usually (a) complication of elections in poor countries, but people are worried it may appear in the US. The US is in degradation.”
- In Russia, state TV has given blanket coverage to the election. “We are continuing to follow the madness,” one of the presenters said. A pro-Kremlin politician wrote on Facebook: “Whoever wins the legal battles half of Americans will not consider them the lawful president.” Germany’s defense minister warned that the US was facing a “very explosive situation,” and that Trump’s determination to challenge the results in court risked triggering “a constitutional crisis in the USA.”
- France’s finance minister struck a more pragmatic note. “Let’s not kid ourselves. The United States has not been a friendly partner to European states for several years now,” he said, adding “The American continent has detached itself from the European continent.” (Reuters, BBC)
From Nobel Laureate To Nearing Civil War
- Ethiopia could be on the brink of a civil war after its prime minister ordered an attack Wednesday against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the state government in charge of Ethiopia’s northernmost region. Abiy Ahmed said the TPLF had been provoking and inciting the federal government for months, but its attack on a federal military base Tuesday night was “the last red line” to be crossed. Ahmed was awarded a Nobel Prize last year for his efforts in bringing peace to the Horn of Africa region..
- This is a major escalation between the state and federal government in Ethiopia. The TPLF controls the most powerful regional force in the country, and analysts fear a civil war could destabilize the already fragile Horn of Africa and lead to a humanitarian disaster. One analyst wrote that Ethiopia, home to more than 100 million people, is an anchor state in the Horn, and that “[This] implosion [is] bound to have devastating consequences across the entire sub-region.” (NPR)
Additional World News
- US Election 2020: How the world is reacting to knife-edge vote (BBC)
- The rest of the world has had it with US presidents, Trump or otherwise (Guardian). We aren’t the only ones with Presidential fatigue.
- In China, bemusement and scorn over unresolved U.S. election (Reuters)
- Yuan important election… China’s yuan has its worst fall in years before recovering on US election swings (CNN)
- An American Election Spurs British Reflection (Atlantic, $)
- EU: Brexit trade talks still face ‘too many difficulties’ (AP)
- UK raises terror threat level to ‘severe’ after Europe attacks (NBC)
- A New Front Opens in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Borscht (NYT, $). Too many cooks spoil the soup.
- Israel Bulldozes Palestinian Hamlet In The West Bank (NPR)
- Iran’s Khamenei says Armenia-held land in Karabakh ‘must be returned’ (France24)
- Indian village where Kamala Harris’ grandfather was born prays for her win (CBS)
- Wrong number, mate: Mystery Robocalls Tell Australians to ‘Stay Home and Stay Safe’ During US Election (Vice)
Not Such A Great Gig
(Lane Turner via Getty Images)
- In a stunning blow to California’s Lyft and Uber drivers, Golden State voters approved Proposition 22 in Tuesday’s elections, which carves out an exemption from a California labor law known as AB5 for some driving and delivery apps. The companies had claimed that AB5, which changes the way companies classify employees, would drastically change their business model.
- The passage means that workers at gig economy firms will continue to be classified as independent contractors, without access to employee rights such as minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and health insurance. Some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful tech companies, including Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash, backed the measure, spending upwards of $200 million on the effort. Uber and Lyft have agreed to supply workers with some forms of benefits, though the protections will not be as extensive as they would have been under AB5. (Guardian)
Deutsche Bank Looks To Dump Trump
- We still don’t know for absolute sure who’s won the election, but one bank is sure it just wants to cut ties with Donald Trump. Deutsche Bank has about $340 million in loans outstanding to the Trump Organization, the president’s umbrella group currently being overseen by his two sons. The three loans are collateralized by Trump properties and start coming due in two years; they’re current on payments, and personally guaranteed by the president.
- The German bank first started lending to Trump in the late 1990s, but in the past few years, it’s been dragged into congressional and other investigations into the president’s finances and alleged Russian connections. At least one senior executive sees these investigations and the accompanying bad press as “serious collateral damage” from the relationship. What the bank decides to do depends on the election results.
- If Trump isn’t in office, bank executives feel it would be easier for them to demand repayment, foreclose if he’s not able to pay the loans off or refinance them, or try to sell the loans. Since Trump has personally guaranteed all the loans, Deutsche Bank could also seize the president’s assets if he is unable to repay. If Trump wins a second term, executives feel they would have fewer options. It wouldn’t look good to be seizing assets from a sitting president, so they’d likely extend the loans until he finally leaves office in 2025. (Reuters)
Additional USA News
- Beyond the ballot: Either Trump or Biden Will Win. But Our Deepest Problems Will Remain. (NYT, $)
- No matter who wins, it’s time to get rid of the electoral college (WaPo, $)
- Caesar’s Palace: America Is Eerily Retracing Rome’s Steps to a Fall. Will It Turn Around Before It’s Too Late? (Politico)
- The Nightmare Is Here (Atlantic, $)
- The election, and 2020, was absolutely insane. Don’t forget it. (Slate)
- The real reason Trump is terrified of losing the presidency: fear of prosecution (Guardian)
- Republicans publicly silent, privately disgusted by Trump’s election threats (Politico). The GOP goes silent.
- America’s Press and the Asymmetric War for Truth (NY Books)
- We still don’t know much about this election — except that the media and pollsters blew it again (WaPo, $)
- How Could Joe Biden Really Want This Job? (NYT, $). Talk about a long to-do list.
- ‘This is Trump country’: Florida is a swing state no more (Politico)
- The ‘AOC movement’ expands in NYC with congressional and Assembly wins (Politico)
- College rules: The Electoral College vs. Popular Vote Explained (NYT, $)
- Analysis: Donald Trump just admitted what everyone else already knows about the 2020 election (CNN)
- Weary from political strife and a pandemic, some Americans are fleeing the country (WaPo, $)
- “Bring Hearts and Souls Back”: Ohio’s Former Top Public-Health Official on How America Can Avoid Dual Cataclysms (New Yorker, $)
- Democrats’ Hopes For Senate Majority Fade As GOP Beats Back Challenges (NPR). The blue wave comes in at a low tide.
A Substantive Vote In Oregon
- Meanwhile, Oregon voters have decided to make history by making their state the first in the nation to decriminalize possession of all illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and meth. Instead of imprisonment, the focus will be on a more public health-oriented approach. Behind the effort was a well-organized and deep-pocketed campaign, with TV ads bankrolled by $500,000 from a foundation run by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife.
- Pursuant to Measure 110, beginning February 1, 2021, the state will stop jailing people for petty possession. The new punishment will be the legal equivalent of a traffic ticket, with violators given the option of paying a $100 fine or being referred to options for addiction treatment. Federal authorities will still be able to aggressively enforce drug laws in Oregon, and anybody caught with dealer-sized quantities will still face arrest and criminal prosecution under existing state laws.
- But Oregon’s lowest-level drug offenders will soon encounter a completely overhauled system where drugs alone will no longer be grounds for an arrest. And the long-term consequences for being caught with recreational quantities of drugs will all but vanish. Oregon’s decriminalization measure will use an estimated $100 million in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales to dramatically expand social services for drug users, including more housing, medication-assisted treatment, and harm reduction services. Voters also approved a second drug-related ballot initiative that legalizes psilocybin mushrooms, another first for a US state. (Vice)
- The ballet of the ballot: The Philly Ballot-Counting Livestream Is Oddly Soothing (Philly Mag)
- Why Democrats are donkeys and Republicans are elephants (CNN)
- Burst of radio waves in Milky Way probably came from neutron star (Guardian). Waves in the Milky Way.
- How Gillian Welch and David Rawlings Held Onto Optimism (NYT, $)
- Ben Thompson’s “Stratechery”. Smart, but a little too much kool-aid (Tim Wu)
- The Best Half-Hour of Comedy in 2020 Is About … Scaffolding? (NYT, $)
- The lost girls: ‘Chaotic and curious, women with ADHD all have missed red flags that haunt us’ (Guardian)
- Things went south after West Side Story: A Golden Team, a Terrible Title and a Show That Vanished (NYT, $)
- AirPods Pro free replacement eligibility: how to check yours (9to5Mac)
- Six apps that help you stick to a budget (The Verge)