The New Yorker:
No one wants to admit it, but in Washington, D.C., the election might as well be over—except for the what-if-the-polls-are-wrong jitters, which are real and have been the stuff not just of nightmares but of all-day worrying since Donald Trump’s 2016 upset. Still, there are post-election plans to be made, lobbying strategies to be gamed out, Cabinet positions to speculate about. The election forecasters at The Economist currently give Joe Biden a ninety-six-per-cent chance of winning the Electoral College. According to the political Web site FiveThirtyEight, the former Vice-President has an only slightly more circumspect eighty-nine-per-cent chance. The Cook Political Report has moved Texas into the tossup category—Texas, which has not gone Democratic since Jimmy Carter, in 1976. No wonder the rumors are rife about Biden’s White House, about who will get what job and why. Will Susan Rice, a surprise finalist for Vice-President, be tapped as Secretary of State? Is Ron Klain a lock for White House chief of staff? On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “very confident” that Biden will win, and spent her weekly press conference outlining her governing agenda for the new Administration, from instituting green infrastructure policies to lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Politico has already started on a transition newsletter, though I am trying not to read it.
This is not because I don’t believe the polls. The election may, in fact, be over. In truth, the polls matter less and less every day from here on in. As I wrote this column, on Thursday, more than seventy million Americans had voted, and there are still five days to go. In some places, more voters have cast their ballots in early voting than in the entire 2016 election. In other words, it’s already the equivalent of 2 P.M.. on Election Day. A late revelation—yet another Trump scandal, or an attack on Biden—can’t change votes that have been cast. And, besides, who is going to change their minds about Donald Trump now, anyway? Since winning four years ago, in a fluke of our electoral system, he has been the most omnipresent, overexposed President in American history. Everybody has an opinion of him, and he has never, for a single day of his Presidency, had the support of a majority of the American people. That is not going to suddenly flip over a Halloween weekend, at a time when thousands of Americans are sick or dying because of a pandemic that he claims is no big deal.
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