I voted this morning at my precinct in South Riding, Virginia. If you are a U.S. citizen who is eligible to vote, and if you have not already done so, you should go to the polls today too. Since so many people voted early this year, many precincts—like mine—are not crowded at all. It took mere minutes.
The only thing I ask of you is that you take the time to learn what’s on your ballot and make an informed choice. Don’t vote on the basis of blind party loyalty, fake news, or campaign ads. Put at least a little real time and effort into it. No informed vote is a wasted vote.
I encourage you to read my endorsements, but don’t only read mine. Read other people’s views too. Read the candidates’ websites. Read a variety of news and opinion articles. Know what you are voting for (or against) and why. And remember that, no matter how things turn out, we can all act like adults in the aftermath.
Now, with that out of the way, a few thoughts. . . .
Races on My Ballot
The odds favor the Democrats. It is very likely that Virginia’s thirteen electors will go to former Vice President Joe Biden (D), that we will reelect Senator Mark Warner (D), and that we will reelect Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-VA 10th). If any of these races goes a different way, I would be very surprised.
Virginians reflexively dislike blowhards like President Donald Trump (R), and down-ticket Democrats are coasting easily on his anti-coattails. Wexton would be favored anyway since the 10th District is now generally center-left. Gade is likely to outperform Trump in the statewide vote, but it is unlikely to be anywhere near enough for him to defeat Warner.
I would caution Virginia Democrats though; the state’s apparent ‘blueness’ is driven mainly by anti-Trump sentiment and we are still a ‘purple’ state, though we’ve moved from center-right to center-left. Don’t overreach or else you’re liable to start seeing very different outcomes when Trump is no longer top-of-mind or top-of-ticket.
I suspect that both amendments to the Virginia Constitution will pass, including the redistricting amendment.
Though the state Democratic Party has come out against the redistricting amendment (after decades of supporting this kind of reform), I think most of Virginia’s moderates—including left- and right-leaning moderates—and a good number of conservatives and less partisan liberals will support it. Good polling is hard to come by, but I’m guessing it’ll pass with around 60% of the vote. That is just a guess though.
The tax exemption amendment is likely to pass with a solid majority, as they normally do, as are the four Loudoun County bond referendums.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is favored to win, but President Donald Trump (R) still has a chance. Based on my own proprietary analysis, here’s where I think things stand (custom map created on 270 To Win):
There is reason to believe that the pollsters are somewhat undercounting Trump voters. I have attempted to bake this into my analysis, along with a lot of non-poll data. That is why my map shows a closer race than many other pundits’ maps.
Obviously we will need to watch the results in the states I identify as true “swing states”—Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina. But the real lynchpin of this election is very likely to be Pennsylvania. My analysis still shows Pennsylvania as “leans Biden,” but the margin was narrowing in the days approaching the election. If I underestimated the Trump undercount in the polls, Pennsylvania could easily end up being perilously close.
If Pennsylvania gets called early for Biden, then Biden is very likely to win . . . even if Trump sweeps the swing states. The numbers just don’t work out for Trump without Pennsylvania unless very weird things happen in other states.
But if Pennsylvania gets called early for Trump, that would mean that the polls in other states likely undercounted Trump voters too, and that would mean that Trump would be likely to sweep the other swing states and might still be in the running in, for example, Michigan and Wisconsin.
And if Pennsylvania is still too close to call late into the evening, well, it could be a very long night and a very close election. This is a verbose way of saying: All eyes should be on Pennsylvania first, then Florida, then the other close states.
Here on Off on a Tangent I will, as always, provide live coverage of all the races I’m following: the presidential race, the Virginia congressional races, the Virginia ballot issues, and the Loudoun County ballot issues. I’ll also be commenting on other notable races around the country.
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET and continues until either all of the races I’m following are called, or at least until 1:00 a.m. If live coverage concludes before all races are called, then it will continue as time permits in the coming days (or weeks, if necessary).
I call winners using a proprietary method that incorporates actual published results, exit polling data, media calls, and more. Because record numbers of votes have been cast early or by mail this year, and it is not crystal clear how that will affect reporting, I will be more conservative than usual when calling states for one candidate or another in the presidential race. Normally I am able to call most states around the same time that major media outlets do (and sometimes I’m able to do it faster) . . . I’m not confident that I’ll be able to do this year. But I would rather be right than fast.