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2020 Presidential Race: Ballot-Counting Stretches Beyond Election Day

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to bring you up to date on where things stand this morning, the day after the election. At this moment, the result of the presidential election is not known. There are a number of crucial tight races that are still up in the air, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We saw a strong turnout and record amounts of mail-in voting. There are still millions of legitimate votes still to be counted. Despite that, President Trump last night falsely claimed that he won the election. Democrat Joe Biden is urging patience until, quote, "every vote is counted." Let's bring in two guests to talk about all this. Conservative writer Noah Rothman of Commentary Magazine and Aimee Allison, founder of the political organization She the People, welcome to you both.

AIMEE ALLISON: Thanks for having me.

NOAH ROTHMAN: Thank you very much.

MARTIN: So we went into this election, Aimee, with COVID ripping through the country, more than 230,000 Americans dead, a gutted economy. Are you surprised President Trump has held onto so much support?

ALLISON: Well, actually, I think the story is that in places that had been considered battleground states, places where over the last couple of elections, we'd seen an expansion of the electorate, that were still - you know, they're still in play in Georgia, in places where he had support and successfully won in 2016, like Wisconsin, are in play. And the way that I understand that is the organizing that's been happening year-round in those states has really helped to move the electorate and to activate voters who weren't active in 2016. The early vote records, particularly amongst women of color who are the base of the Democratic Party vote, the center of the coalition, was through the roof. Four million women of color cast a vote before Election Day, an 83% increase. And I believe that that has made Arizona - flipping Arizona, and Georgia in play, which is the big prize. So now, because we're feeling good about Wisconsin and Michigan, we see a path, a clear path, to 270 electoral votes.

MARTIN: Although - and I'll bring in Noah and we'll talk about President Trump's disappointments because he has had some. But no doubt Democrats have been hoping for a bigger blue wave. I mean, they thought Florida was something they could be competitive in. Texas they considered competitive this year. They've lost Ohio, Iowa. These were all things that Democrats had really hoped to keep in their corner or flip to their corner. So there must be some disappointment this morning.

ROTHMAN: There's a profound disappointment if you're a Democrat. I don't think you can look at these results and say that Democrats failed to mobilize their vote. The problem for Democrats is that Republicans also fail - also mobilized their vote. And these were two competing waves, both of which seem to have nullified each other to some degree. And there's an extent to which you can - you have to say now that - certain states like Florida, for example, we've had three consecutive cycles in which the polling and polling averages have undercounted the strength of the Republican vote, that you have to say that we can no longer really use these tools particularly effectively. It does seem like Donald Trump will manage to lose more, for example, lose the popular vote by a broader margin nationally than elsewhere. But on the strength of his mobilization of aspects of the coalition Republicans don't normally count on, Latinos, for example, urban voters and a failure of suburban women to completely turn on this president in ways that the polls seem to forecast suggest that Democrats did fail to mobilize the coalition that they expected to show up at these polls. Where Donald Trump's support seems to have declined precipitously is among his white working-class base. But it doesn't seem like it was enough, for example, to reel this profound repudiation of both Donald Trump and the Republican Party that many had expected. The Republican Party emerges this morning not repudiated.

MARTIN: Although - and we should just say again, votes are still being counted. We do not know the final tallies in very critical states. But nevertheless, Aimee, do you think Democrats just failed to connect on the issues?

ALLISON: I don't think so. I think we had a - you know, when you - when we started our conversation a moment ago, you set the stage - the pandemic and also we have to say the disinformation, misinformation coming from the White House that was really intended to convince everyday voters that the election wasn't legitimate from the beginning, that has an impact. And the impact it has is keeping people at home and discouraging full participation in the election. So we have to acknowledge that and the impact of the long quarantine and unemployment on turnout. But having said that, there wasn't a failure. It was high turnout, historic turnout. I think that the...

MARTIN: On both sides.

ALLISON: On the both sides. And Democrats need to understand parts of the electorate that will actually drive results - that's why, you know, I've been focusing on women of color, which is a very diverse, multiracial coalition. When people say Latinos, they want to, you know, paint with a broad brush. But what happened in Florida and what happened in Arizona are very different aspects of those...

MARTIN: Right. And there are different motivations of those voting blocs.

ALLISON: That's right, different motivations. So what we need to do, I think long term - and I think it's too early for this kind of post-mortem - is to understand and really deepen the enthusiasm and engagement amongst those will show up. Even saying women is too broad of a brush. 2016 - it's widely understood that white women backed Trump, and we should look again at what that looks like. But Black women and Asian American women in a state like Pennsylvania, overwhelming turnout and overwhelmingly voted for the Democrat. So I know we're still counting those votes.

MARTIN: So we can't end the conversation, Noah, without talking about what the president said last night. And I know Republicans like to dismiss what he says often when it's politically inconvenient. Nevertheless, the president made the false claim that he won the election and then suggested that there's been fraud and that then the Supreme Court's going to get involved. How dangerous is that to the entire system?

ROTHMAN: It's particularly dangerous. It is irresponsible. I'm hesitant to suggest that this is going to yield some sort of consequence beyond the president - you know, people saying the president is making reflexive statements to that advantage himself that aren't predicated on anything objective. He tends to do that, and that's sort of priced in. He did get some bad reviews in that speech on Fox News, for example. But it's by no means a sure thing that the president has pulled this out. But nevertheless, I don't think that dynamic changes in 2021, even if Donald Trump manages to lose. What the president has proved is that Republicans benefit when Donald Trump is on the ballot and suffer when he is not. And that's a calculation that Republicans are going to have to price into their future, whatever that future may be.

MARTIN: Conservative writer Noah Rothman of Commentary Magazine, Aimee Allison, founder of the political organization She the People, thank you so much, you two. And we will keep following the results as they come in.

(SOUNDBITE OF TAKUYA KURODA'S "SKYROCKET") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.