inally — finally — we’re there: Election Day.
But here’s some potentially bad news: The whole thing may not actually end on Tuesday.
You’ve all seen the nightmare scenarios — one actually ends with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as temporary acting president. And of course, no one really knows what’s going to happen (least of all the pollsters — remember 2016?). But here’s what you might expect to happen on Election Day.
First, a ray of optimism: President Trump shocked the world last time by sweeping to victory over heavy frontrunner Hillary Clinton — all before midnight. On the other hand, Democrat Joe Biden has built up, according to some polls, a double-digit lead nationally, and he’s still well ahead in key battleground states like Pennsylvania (2.9%), Michigan (5.1%), and Wisconsin (6.6%), according to a running average tabulated by Real Clear Politics (RCP). Trump can lose two of those and still win reelection, but he can’t lose all three unless he pulls off an upset elsewhere.
So who knows, maybe it’s a runaway and one of the candidates sweeps to victory before Tuesday turns into Wednesday.
One way it could be a short night for Trump is losing some key states — all in the Eastern time zone — that he won in 2016, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida (with the Panhandle in the Central time zone). If Trump loses most or all of those states — or even just two, like Pa. and Fla., or one of those two and N.C. — you can head to bed.
Democrats are more likely to vote by mail, Republicans more likely to vote in person. That means on Election Night, Biden might go up quickly based on mail-in ballots, then get caught by Trump as in-person and Election Day ballots are tabulated.
“In general, those early processing states — Florida, Georgia, Ohio and North Carolina — will report mail ballots first,” said the AP. “Those will skew Democratic. But then those states will start tallying Election Day votes. Those should lean Republican. So initial returns may be heavily Democratic, then become more Republican as the night goes on.”
But the wire service offered a final warning.
“The pattern could be reversed in those critical Rust Belt battlegrounds of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. There, the initial vote reported will be the heavily-Republican in-person Election Day ballots, that could be misleading — a ‘red mirage.’ That’s because Democrats may catch up as mail ballots are tabulated in the hours and days afterward — that’s been referred to as the ‘blue shift.'”
Red mirage, blue shift, pandemic, murder hornets — all words added to America’s lexicon in 2020. One day soon, this year will end.