What the 2020 Election Means

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Title: What the 2020 Election Means
Presenter: Professor Todd L. Belt, Ph.D., Program Director

Professor Todd Belt will break down the big takeaways from the election, what we learned was on voters’ minds, and the shifting balance of power in Washington DC.

Transcript

Kira:
I’d like to introduce you to our speakers. And this is Dr. Todd L. Belt, who is professor and political management program director of the TWU Graduate School for medical management, masters in Political Management Program. Before joining GSPM, Dr. Belt was the John W. Kluge Fellow in Digital Studies at the Library of Congress and Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. His research and writing focuses on the mass media, public opinions and the presidency, campaigns and elections and is also a prolific author. Dr. Belt received his PhD from University of Southern California. Welcome Dr. Belt and to our attendees.
Todd Belt:
Well, thank you everyone for being here. I hope we have a good crowd today because we have lots to discuss about the results of the election so far, at least what we know. And I’m going to move forward with that. So as I’m sure everybody has been following this election and how it’s been unfolding in these last few days. And the main call that happened on Saturday. We still don’t know the results of a few of the different states of the presidential elections. But we can make some general propositions. And the first is that, Trump did pretty well considering his approval ratings were generally around 42% for most of the term in office. Sometimes he dropped a little bit below that, but he’s going to get close to 50%, maybe 47, 48, 49% in the popular vote. And he got many more millions of voters than he did back in 2016. A lot of people came out to vote, a lot of people who did not vote for him in 2016 did vote.
So we have to think that President Trump did well considering where we would expect him, he pretty much outperformed his approval rating. We should also look at some of the Republicans who we could say are down-ballot. And these down-ballot Republicans, Senate, House oftentimes they did better than President Trump did. If we look at the Senate, the Republicans who looked like they were in trouble really held on. So I think that you can say the Republicans did pretty well. The main issues concerning voters that we know about from the exit polls when we talk about why we have to be a little bit careful with this, were… And this bleeds off the screen here, I’m sorry… The economy, racial justice and the last one was the coronavirus. And so we’ll talk a little bit about that.
So here’s the electoral map as we predict it. Obviously Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia haven’t really come close to certifying or even finishing counting their votes. So we’ll wait until we find out what happens there. But it looks like Joe Biden is on a path to 306 electoral votes for a pretty commanding victory in the Electoral College even though the margins were pretty slim in Pennsylvania, in Georgia and in Arizona. I think one of the big takeaways about the presidential election is the blue wall and that is Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Donald Trump was able to crack that democratic blue wall in the Midwest talking about issues of trade and the loss of industrialization. He won those states by a combined less than 78,000 votes. It looks like Joe Biden will retake them with more than that, significantly more than that across three states.
So, Joe Biden’s campaign style of making these issues front and center for him, restoring integrity to the office and really taking the coronavirus seriously worked pretty well for him. And if we look at how both candidates ran their campaign, Joe Biden was looking to really recapture those three states, he put a lot of effort in there. He did go down to some of the other states, Florida of course was very tight, didn’t get that one. But Joe Biden was criticized for campaigning from his basement whereas Donald Trump was out there. This is a real subtext and way of thinking about the campaigns that they were managed in such a way that sent a message to voters that, “This is how I think about the pandemic. And this is how I think about the economy.” Joe Biden, taking it seriously, wearing the mask and saying, “We have to be very careful, we have to listen to scientists.” Donald Trump saying, “It’s right around the corner, we’ll have a vaccine soon.” Well, little did he know we might have one this morning.
But the issues of reopening the economy primarily his goal and trying to move beyond and talk about the economy in the before times. So he and his people at his rallies issued wearing the masks and the way that they conducted their campaigns was also emblematic of how they thought about the coronavirus, thinking that that was going to be the number one issue, which actually in fact it wasn’t. The flip state so far, we know Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania is another one. Those give the margin victory and the Electoral College to former Vice President Biden, President-elect Biden. And as I said, the popular vote, they’re not done counting yet, but Joe Biden has cracked that 50% threshold. We haven’t seen too many candidates on the Democratic side crack 50% and win the Electoral College.
Usually have to win it by a couple points over 50% to win the Electoral College. Structurally Republicans can get the Electoral College without cracking 50% because a lot of those electoral votes in a smaller population states. In other words, the Democrats really run up the score in places like New York and California where they don’t really need the votes. Turnout; so far, estimated it’s going to be about 66.4%, much higher than anything we’ve seen since 1900, sorry that bled off the page there. Even Barack Obama’s election in 2008, that was about 61%, not sure exactly what the last figure was. But this is going to eclipse that, we have a lot of votes still out there to count and it’s still going to go up.
The issue of legal challenges; the president has not conceded and he is going to take this to court and he says that there are votes that are illegal and he’s going to have some of them challenged. I can go into deeper detail about this and how it’s different than the 2000 rates and the legal challenges in Bush versus Gore, which were more procedural. And how those types of arguments will not work this time because the procedures are much more systematic than they were back in 2000. So, let’s have a look at what people were thinking about when they were voting. I want to avoid using the exit poll data with the exception of this one which I think is really tremendous. And even after we have to reweight the data, the data has not been weighted for turnout yet, because turnout has not been completely calculated yet.
So we have to be a little bit cautious but the margins here are so tremendous that I think that this is actually an instructive result that we have. The question is, what’s more important? Constraining the coronavirus and hurting the economy or rebuilding the economy even if it means it hurts our efforts to control the coronavirus, is what we call a semantic differential question. And we see the Democratics overwhelmingly say, “Coronavirus first, economy second,” and the exact reverse for the Trump voters. So this was a really pretty interesting result and I think it really is going to be systematic throughout and I think that it will be one of the most important things we talk about in terms of learning about the vote.
Well, if we can’t use the exit poll data what can we use? Fortunately, at GW, we have our GW Politics Poll which is funded by The Graduate School of Political Management, the Political Science Department and the School of Media and Public Affairs. We got this data, this was in the field October 16th through 26, so it was pretty recent. So we have some really good data here that will tell us about the people who said they planned on voting for Biden or planned on voting for Trump. And we think that that’s going to be pretty systematic with who actually did, because there were very few undecided voters in this election. People made up their minds really pretty early, most people did.
So one of the big things was, can Joe Biden recapture the voters that Hillary Clinton lost and can he really capitalize on the errors that she made? And the issue as it looks like, we had a lot of more new voters, but of the people who voted Trump in 2016, Biden got about 5% of those. Whereas compared to Trump got the little less than 2% of the Clinton voters, so advantage Biden there. Biden was able to appeal to some of those Trump voters and bring them back. The other issue is third party and if we look at Johnson and Stein the third party Libertarians and Green candidates, their margins in those three key states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan were higher than the overall vote total difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016.
So could those people be brought back into the fold, could Democrats appeal to them, could perhaps Trump get some of those Libertarian and third party voters who didn’t want to vote for Hillary? And it looks like overwhelmingly Biden got much more of them than Donald Trump did, 7.2% of his voters had voted third party in 2016 whereas only 3.3% of the Trump voters had voted third-party in 2016. So Biden, expanding his base, Trump not so much, this was one of the big criticisms, so how Donald Trump ran his campaign. People criticized him for just speaking to his base, not really going out there and attracting new voters. He did make some pitches for the suburbs and such and trying to talk about the economic gains of blacks and Hispanics under his term of office. But that doesn’t look like it made much of a dent and I have some data on that as well.
Much has been made of what’s called the enthusiasm gap. Did people really want to vote for Trump? Biden voters, about 58.8% were very enthusiastic about Biden. In other words, they were more enthusiastic about getting rid of Trump than they were about voting for Joe Biden. Trump voters, with their boat parades and their golf cart parades and their car caravans much more enthusiastic about their person, voting for Donald Trump and keeping him in office. So that was the enthusiasm gap. So that helps to explain why the margins were a little bit closer than we might’ve expected from the polls. And I can also talk about whether or not the polls were off and by how much, if that is of interest.
So let’s look at the issue of what we call traits, character traits. Now we know for people who are undecided late in the campaign, and when you have small margins this does make a difference. The characteristics of the candidates are what really matter, what changed their vote at the end. For example, in 2016, when James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. And the weekend before the election, we saw that people broke two to one for Trump because the issue of honesty and integrity was really undercut for Hillary Clinton.
So these are some of the questions we traditionally ask voters, “Does this candidate, Joe Biden provide strong leadership? Does he have the mental soundness to serve as president?” That’s actually more of a new question thanks to our Research Director, Michael Cornfield. Because this has been a big issue in this campaign with our two septuagenarians in talking about whether or not the other one has the soundness to serve, cares about people like me, is honest, is moral and is knowledgeable.
And you can see Joe Biden, from the Biden voters, they really agreed with a lot of these things. They thought he had all of these types of characteristics and we see that the Trump voters, they a little bit less on some of the issues. Was their guy honest? Maybe a little less thought about that. Was he moral? Less. Was he knowledgeable? A little bit less, didn’t really matter to them. So these characteristics not really as important, more important issues for them were the strong leadership and mental soundness and such. So we see also that Trump voters gave higher ratings to Joe Biden on these issues. Biden voters gave very low ratings on all of these characteristics to Donald Trump, so you can see how this broke out.
There was an article in the New York Times on Saturday that said, “Well, this all came down to character,” but the authors of that article didn’t have any data. They actually just talked to some voters and produced their article. But we do have some data here in our survey and it does tell an interesting story that Biden wins on some of these issues that he was really campaigning on. Honesty, integrity, morality, we kept hearing him talk about his faith and how that was very important to him. So those were really important issues in the election for a lot of voters.
We’ve heard about the gender gap and it was there again. Women were more likely to vote for Biden than for Trump, men were about equally divided. We look at the… Now of course, it’s a tremendous error to talk about any one ethnic group as being monolithic, they are not. And certainly Hispanics really show that they are not monolithic this time with a lot more of them voting for Trump than had voted for him in 2016. And there’s a lot of studies that are going on now to parse out what was Donald Trump’s appeal. A lot of it has to do with conservative positions on social issues, as well as his success as a businessman and such.
I would direct your attention towards the bottom here, this was considered a key demographic, suburban white women or just white women in general. They preferred Donald Trump in 2016, they prefer Joe Biden this time around. This was considered a key demographic that both were going to try to appeal to. And we see that Biden did chip away at the president’s lead among that group, that was successful for him. Let’s look at the youth vote, did they turn out? No, they never do. Unfortunately our 18 to 29… Oops I’m sorry, that went backwards for some reason. 18 to 29, still a small percentage of the turnout but favored by Biden almost two to one. What’s really important to see here is the 65 plus group slightly favored Biden and that’s in line with a lot of the polls at the very end that told us Trump was not getting a significant increase in the 65 and over crowd that he had in 2016. That seniors were turning against him or at least going equally instead of preferring him. So that was a pretty interesting finding as well.
Economics doesn’t make too much of a difference. If we look through here, you see people in the lower income of the spectrum were preferring Joe Biden as were people on the higher end of the spectrum. So we don’t see a whole big difference on income and this is in line with some of the research we saw in 2016 where people said it wasn’t whether or not you were doing well, it had more to do with your perception of how the country as a whole was doing that was really important in determining vote choice. And education, not income was actually what mattered. Whereas in the past before 2016, it was the reverse of that. So if we look at educational attainment and how that influences vote choice, do we see a big group of high school and less than high school people going Trump? We do. That’s the one group that he actually wins. People with a high school education or less, were more likely to vote for Trump.
And so, the big group that was considered really important in 2016 was underestimated by the pollsters in 2016, was this group we called non-college educated whites. Now I need to correct this data at the very bottom where it says 28 to 64, that should actually be 30.4 to 69.6, roughly 30 to 70 in 2016. You can see that Joe Biden picked up another 10 plus points among that group of non-college educated whites. They called him a middle-class Joe for a reason and he did have a big draw from that group. So I think we do see some interesting trends there. The white women that were considered a key demographic, the non-college educated whites were considered a key demographic, also, the Latin vote or Hispanic vote however you like to say it, trending more towards Trump.
And so, I think there will be a lot more to say about those in the coming weeks as we start getting some of those better exit polls and other surveys that will come out after the election. So let’s look at the Senate elections right now, we are tied 48-48. We were expecting that Alaska seat to be retained by Republicans, but we’ve got a pretty even situation. We think Thom Tillis will probably get North Carolina, that would make it 48 Democrat to 50 Republican. Those two in Alaska and North Carolina haven’t been decided yet. Which leaves us those two in Virginia. We’ve got David Perdue in Virginia, did not get to that 50% threshold that you have to get to in order to avoid the runoff. We’re going to have two runoffs in January and Georgia also for Kelly Loeffler seat. And this is going to be really interesting because Democrats, if they get both of them could get to that magic number of 50, where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote, which would give them a balance of power there.
So the flip states were states that Joe Biden won; Colorado, Arizona. Pretty interesting that they were able to get those, close race, much closer than people have predicted in Michigan, that was retained by the Democrats. And of course we have that race in Maine and that was retained although people didn’t think that that would happen. And that stays in the bag with Republicans, people thought Thom Tillis would lose. Overall, Republicans did really well in the Senate races that people thought that they were going to have this onslaught and lose maybe six or seven seats. They’ve only potentially lost three, they may end up losing only one depending on how this works. So, people in Senate elections did better than President Trump did.
And so, what constraints and opportunities does this present for President-elect Biden? Well, 50-50 is the best he’s going to get, which means it’s likely that Republicans will control the Senate. Which will mean we have divided government, which will make it much more difficult for the president-elect to get things done that he wants to, in terms of a stimulus, in terms for COVID relief, in terms of other things, he will have to play with the Republicans. Fortunately for former Vice President Biden, he spent most of his career in the Senate. He knows the senators, he knows how to work things. A lot will depend on their willingness to work with him. Because back in the Obama administration, he was often called the McConnell whisperer. In other words, he would be dispatched to the Senate to broker deals with these people that he knew.
There’s a lot of senators there that are not people that knew Joe Biden but he does know the institution. He does know what it takes to get things through and how to broker deals. I would say if you were Joe Biden and you didn’t have one of either the House or the Senate, you probably prefer the Senate because you know how to work it better. But then again remember, the Senate has the ability to confirm judges as well as executive branch appointments. So the Senate is a little bit more important, so we’ll see what happens. There are very interesting things turning on a knife.
In House; we have a number of flip districts right now, we’re looking at 216–196. It takes 219 to control… I’m sorry, 218 to control the House and the Democrats are almost there but it looks like Republicans will pick up a handful of seats. Most people were expecting Democrats to pull off a handful of seats but Democrats did not win any of the likely Republican or leaning Republican races. Whereas Republicans won some of those that were likely or leaning Democratic. So Republicans again, down-ballot did better than the President did. So there’s 23 left to be decided, Democrats flipped three, Republicans flipped eight for a net so far of plus five for the Republicans. We will see how that plays out as we watch what’s going on. As of today it looks like there are no runoffs but there are still a few undecided. Sometimes you can get runoffs in the House elections just like the Senate.
State level races; I think these are really important. I don’t have the number on gubernatorial elections but let me go straight to the state legislatures. Here’s where the Democrats thought that they were going to pull off something that should be really interesting which is, get more state legislatures. Why is that important? Redistricting and gerrymandering. Republicans had their wave in 2010, they captured a lot of state legislatures with a lot of straight ticket voting. That meant that they could do the gerrymandering, which meant that they could get more seats in the House of Representatives even though they get less popular votes. And the Democrats had the opportunity to do that this time, but they fell short.
In fact, it looks at this time as though they have lost one legislature in New Hampshire. They may pick up the House in Arizona, it’s not clear yet, counting is still going on there, but they really lost their opportunity. And our GSPN Fellow, Reid Wilson wrote a very interesting article in Washington Post last Friday that you can read, about how the Democrats really blew it this time and lost their chance to do that. Other really interesting ballot items of interest I think we can talk about, the big ones that people are talking about were the gig workers in California. We’ve seen through ballot initiatives, a big leftward push, especially in the Pacific States on issues of employee rights, and unionization, and minimum wage.
Here was an opportunity for the people of California to say to places like Uber and Lyft, people who work in this gig economy, “No you have to treat them as employees. You have to pay a wage and benefits.” It was the most expensive race in terms of ballot measures in history I believe, 200 million or more was spent in that. And it went down, so the Uber and Lyft drivers will not be considered employees in that state. Minimum wage passed in Florida, $15 an hour, very interesting. Also, drugs were on the ballot in a lot of different states. We have six states that legalized recreational marijuana or at least put a commission in to recommend it, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, California and Michigan. And hard drugs were legalized in Oregon, people in Oregon are going to try to follow the Portuguese model of drug legalization and treatment as a way to handle the drug epidemic up there.
Other issues that I think were really interesting, we know that Maine a few years ago went to this ranked-choice voting, that lost in Massachusetts. So the people in Massachusetts rejected what was going on in Maine. Open primaries in Alabama and Florida, these rules matter, they matter for how you run your campaign, those went down. Alabama and Florida, they lost on the open primaries, redistricting passed, redistricting commissions, less partisan commissions passed in Missouri and Virginia. So that should be interesting when it comes to gerrymandering especially considering the no changes too much in our state legislatures.
Colorado joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which is the compact that says that, “Irrespective of how the state votes, the legislature will allocate the electors to the Electoral College based on the popular vote, not the vote in the state. Still, I believe about 70 or 80 electoral votes shy for it to go into effect. But this is an end around, a way around the Electoral College instead of needing a constitutional amendment which of course is a high threshold for change to make any sort of change to the Electoral College.
So, that is the end of my presentation on what we know so far from the elections. And I’ll answer questions after I talk a little bit about our program at GW, Graduate School of Political Management. I’m the director of the Political Management Program and our program is the first and foremost program in the country at training people to do real politics. Training people how to be active and run for office, how to manage strategic public relations, how to be campaign workers and how to work on campaigns, whether they be electoral campaigns or also advocacy campaigns, really how to do the work of politics.
You can take our program either fully online or on campus. And it’s pretty much the same either way where you take 12 classes, which are three credits each. There are five core classes, four of them that you take at the beginning, which are the real course. And then at the end you take either the capstone if you’re on campus or if you’re online, you take the applied research project. This is in lieu of doing a thesis, we don’t have master’s thesis or comprehensive examinations in our program that most do. Sort of a way for you to prove that you have mastered the information of a class so that you are familiar with the literature and the approach. We are very pragmatic, our classes are taught by practitioners, people who are leaders in the field doing the exact types of things that they’re teaching. People on the cutting edge of social media, of how to run campaigns, of how to read voter files, how to target voters, all these aspects of lobbying and such. We’re pragmatic.
And so, our students instead of writing major research papers, dealing with data analysis and theory building instead are usually writing memos and talking about how to put their knowledge into action instead of just creating knowledge for the sake of knowledge. So generally it takes about two years to run through if you’re doing two classes per semester. Which is what we encourage, because we want our students to be able to work generally full-time while they are in our program, unless they’re international students and they can’t. And the reason for that is we want students to have their experience that they can build on so they can get a really good job when they graduate. We want people to become political managers, not political workers. We want people doing strategy, leading teams. This is the aspect of everything that we want out of our students.
And we also have a tremendous alumni network that we try to connect our students with. We have 4,500 alumni members, most of them are here in the Washington D.C. area. Some of them are, actually a good deal of them, are our instructors. And we try to have events where we connect our students with them so that they can really… That’s sort of our third rail of your education, your work, and the network. And so, with these three things, we try to prepare our students to have the best opportunities when they graduate so that they can get a much better job upon graduation than what they have. So that’s how it works.
How is the graduate school of political management different than political science, public policy or law school? We are very pragmatic and we have a lot of different types of jobs that you can get into. There’s a big list here. If you want to study politics, you go into political science. If you want to do politics, you come to The Graduate School of Political Management. We give you the tools and structure to do that. It’s the same way of thinking about economics. If you want to study economics, you can go get a master’s or PhD in economics. If you want to run a business, if you want to be in business, you go get an MBA. We are the MBA of politics of The Graduate School of Political Management. That’s what we do.
If you want to become a lawyer, you go to law school. If you want to think about policy and make recommendations, you can go get your public policy. But when it comes to actually putting these things into action, to doing the work of politics, that’s what we teach at our institution. So in terms of admissions, I am going to tell you a little bit about what we have to do. There’s an online application fee of $80, your statement of purpose, a couple of letters. And then if you graduated within five years, one of those letters should be from one of your former professors. Now, if you have a 3.0 GPA or higher, you can get into our program without taking the GRE. If you don’t have a 3.0, you can still get in, but you have to take the GRE and score above the 30th percentile in all three of the different categories.
So, let me move on. We have the upcoming application deadlines and I’m going to turn it over to Jillian who is going to tell you a little bit more about these deadlines and the applications. I’m sorry, I think I jumped in on the applications before, so I can back up a little bit. I’m sorry. I had deadlines on there. So Jillian, if you want to talk more about the applications I’ll drop out here.
Jillian:
So, thank you, Todd. Thank you very much for the presentation as well. So thank you everyone for taking the time to attend the webinar today. It really is a pleasure having you here. I’m sure you’ve been truly entertained within the last couple of weeks in terms to be election cycle. Many of you have already communicated with either myself or one of our team members, either Deborah Sax, Sahara or Shirazi, [inaudible 00:33:25] Kennedy or [inaudible 00:33:27]. So I encourage you to continue working with them. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to do so, we really look forward to making that connection with you. During that conversation, you would have or we’ll discuss the application requirements in order to have you file and submit your application to the review panel.
So we are definitely dealing with no full-time professionals, so we do respect and appreciate that your time is valuable. So we try to make the application process very simple for you. And we are here to work along with you on back. So Todd did touch and pretty much highlight the requirements there. I’m just going to go over a little bit more details. So technically what we’re looking for is a completed online application form, and we will provide you with the appropriate link. So we’ll make sure that you’re following the appropriate instructions accordingly, together with an $80 non-refundable application fee, your statement of purpose, and this is where we all have that story to tel. Everyone has that. So, that’s the connection you’re making with the admissions committee. So what’s motivating you to take this program and why now. What does this mean to you in terms of your future and short term goals. A current resume showing your professional and academic background, two letters of recommendation.
And as Todd mentioned earlier, if you’ve graduated within the last five years, one of those letters of recommendation must be academic and then the other one professional. Official transcripts and transcripts evaluation if you’re an international student or applicant with your degree confirmed from a literary accredited school, and we need that from all schools you attended. So if they’re transfer credits, we still need to get those two as well. Unofficial copies are acceptable for the application process, but we do need to get you official copies after you get accepted. We do encourage our students to do that because you would know, especially today, a lot of the schools are going with the e-script option. So it’s very easy to get that requested and send directly to us in that secure site.
Todd also mentioned about the GRE as well. That’s way for students who have a 3.0 or higher, and that’s considering all credits that’s come in. If your GPA is below that 3.0, we don’t want to discourage you, but we encourage you to speak with your advisor on what else can be done in terms of additional options that may be awarded for you. Okay. And that’s pretty much it. So I do encourage you to have that conversation with us if you haven’t already done so. And moving into the application deadline for spring semester, which begins on January the 4th, we’re looking at pretty much just say at the end of this week. That’s a parity deadline with December 1st being the regular deadline.
The process really takes just like a week or so to get everything done. So it’s a very short process. We’re again, here for you. Keep in mind too, that you’re looking at your Thanksgiving, you’re looking at the, Christmas season’s coming up too as well. So we encourage you to try to go that complete it sooner rather than later. So you can get a response from the committee way before those deadlines. Thank you. [Crosstalk 00:36:42].
Todd Belt:
Okay. Can I be heard? Is everybody hearing me?
Kira:
Yeah.
Todd Belt:
Okay, good. Thank you. I see a number of different questions here and let me check [inaudible 00:36:56].
Kira:
Professor Belt, we just lost you. So to our audience, while Professor Belt’s unmuting himself, we’re going to go into Q&A now. So there’s a few questions that have already come in. So I’m going to start going through them one by one. It’s really great questions. So for those who join us later on, do get your question over to us, just activate the Q&A window at the bottom of your screen, and we’ll go through them during Q&A. Thanks so much. So Professor Belt, are we able to hear you now?
Todd Belt:
Can you hear me?
Kira:
Yes. Perfect. Okay.
Todd Belt:
Oh, okay.
Kira:
Great. So the first question from our audience has to do with the protocol for calling the election. Is it the associated press or usually what the protocol?
Todd Belt:
Yeah, this is really interesting. We usually don’t have it strung out too late. And the question is, how soon should they call the election when other states are actually still voting? There is no guidelines as to who gets to call the election. Obviously the states do have certification deadlines sometimes during the week of, sometimes a week or two afterwards. California allows votes to keep coming in for weeks afterwards if they are postmark before they certify. So if we left it up to the certification that comes out of the states, we wouldn’t know for weeks and weeks on end.
So then those political junkies of us, how do we know? Whose hands do we put it in? Fox News got a lot of criticism for calling Arizona before the rest had, before The Associated Press had. Each of these media firms including The Associated Press are looking at exit polls, are looking at polling numbers and they’re looking at the returns as they come in from each of the states to try to make an estimate as to who won the election. This time around, they have been much more conservative in terms of having a greater confidence level in terms of their statistics, to be able to predict. This is why we see the New York times still hasn’t predicted Arizona while the AP has. So whose job is it? It’s really nobody’s job. There’s nobody that says the AP gets to do this or Fox News or the New York Times. They do it themselves. And what this does is, it gives an air of credibility to the ability to predict. If you have a number of different media firms calling an election for one candidate, then that seems to indicate that if many of them are doing that, then that should be over within that state.
So yeah, nobody anointed the AP to do this. But each media group does take these exit polls which are run by Edison Research. They apply their own statistical modeling to them, combine them with what they know from polling as well as the returns and they make their estimate based on that. Okay. So next question.
Kira:
Why are so many Latinos in Florida voting for Trump or voted for Trump?
Todd Belt:
This is a really great question. Miami-Dade County, Biden lost so many of those Clinton voters. This is something that is going to need more study. I don’t want to just throw too many ideas out there, but these are some ideas I have as to why that might be the case. I will not say for sure, why this is the case. We know that Barack Obama was the first person to win… Oh, let me back up and say, of course, Latin voters are extremely diverse as a block. And maybe it’s about time that we stopped talking about groups as voting blocks. It’s an interesting, it can be important but if we look at Latin voters, the number one issue, it’s not immigration, it’s not Cuba, it’s the economy for most people. And so to try to lump them together is difficult.
But we do know that traditionally, the Cuban population in Miami-Dade County has been very pro-embargo against Cuba. Now, the first president ever to say that he was going to get rid of our embargo on Cuba was Barack Obama in 2008. And yet he still took the state twice. He took it in 2008 and 2012. And so people were wondering, has the Cuban population shifted? They did studies and they found the issue of Cuba only mattered to people 65 and over of the Latin community down there. Not to people who were younger. They didn’t care about the revolution. It really didn’t matter to them.
So if you look at that, then we say, “Well maybe we’re beyond that.” But then, we have Donald Trump making this issue of socialism and democratic socialism and trying to tie Joe Biden to the left wing of the democratic party. Perhaps that is something that has scared some of the voters down there. We’re going to need more data to find out if those hypotheses are correct and to really figure out. But I do think this is a really interesting question and a really key one to understand from this election. We’ll have to find a way to find out. Right. Next question.
Kira:
Yes. Next question. A lot of good questions coming in. So one of our audience members, “Our down-ballot Democrats did not farewell in Pennsylvania despite the Commonwealth going to Biden. Can you share some thoughts on why this is or why this may have happened?”
Todd Belt:
Yeah. Redistricting and gerrymandering. I hate to be flippant about it, but they have redrawn their districts in Pennsylvania in such a way where they have some pretty gerrymandered districts out there that really make it difficult for Democrats in certain areas. And we know that voting is habitual, especially for local races. A lot of them matter on whether you know the person, we know that the Republicans have controlled the state legislature there for quite some time. And so we have higher levels of what you would call it, name recognition for people. So it just makes it more difficult for Democrats to break in there. Whereas, people pay a little bit more attention to the presidential race. All right. Next question.
Kira:
Okay. So drugs in Oregon, are they decriminalized or not legalized? And what is the difference between the two?
Todd Belt:
Thank you. Great question. I’m so glad that you asked this. I used a little slip of the tongue by saying that it was legalized. This is not the case. It’s decriminalized. Here’s the difference: decriminalization is reducing the penalties or changing the enforcement of a particular narcotic. And so generally… I’m sorry, what happened in Oregon is they said, “You’re not going to get jail time for these hard drugs anymore. You’re going to get pretty much the equivalent of a traffic ticket.” And so, that reduces the penalties for it. There’s other ways that we’ve seen states and localities go after decriminalization. We should also say that Oregon also is putting a big effort into treatment as well. Like I said, they’re step-by-step trying to follow the Portuguese model there.
And a state that I was in for a number of times in Hawaii and the County of Hawaii, where the big Island is, Aloha, the County passed a decriminalization of marijuana law that said to the police force, “This is going to be your lowest priority for enforcement.” So instead of changing penalties, they tried to issue a directive to the police force that, “This shouldn’t be something that you really need to concern yourself with.” So decriminalization can take two sort of paths, but we are seeing a lot of decriminalization going on in a lot of places. So I’m going to try and keep my answers pretty short because we have a lot of questions. I’m so excited about this. So next question, Kira.
Kira:
We do. This one might be peculiar and we’ll go back to you Professor Belt.
Todd Belt:
Okay.
Kira:
“So a potential applicant of ours has an MBA from the University of Liverpool in the UK, would this qualify for the GRE waiver?” Jillian?
Jillian:
Thanks, Kira. So yes, that’s one of the conditions we look at too as well. And that’s why we really encourage applicants to have that conversation with us. So we would look at it also need to determine where the undergrad came from as well. Because we need transcripts from every school university and colleges attended.
Kira:
Okay.
Jillian:
And then we can also provide them with the relevant evaluators that we do accept.
Kira:
Okay.
Jillian:
So if you can have that person just speak with an advisor, that’d be great.
Kira:
I’m sure. Yeah. You can connect offline as well. Great. And then, so Professor Belt, do you anticipate that these legal challenges and litigations are likely to change the outcome in a significant way?
Todd Belt:
Thank you for that question. The answer is no. I don’t think so. And the reason for this is, if we look at 2000 and if we look at how legal challenges usually work, they’re usually on the basis of an arbitrary or capricious process that’s being used in the counting system. And then we had The Help America Vote Act of 2002 that provided the optical scanners and the electronic voting machines for persons with disabilities. So it’s become much more systematized. So there’s a lot less that you can say or do to say, “I’m being discriminated against, my rights in this state to hold public office are being violated.” Also these things have to start at lower level courts before they make their way up.
And the count is continuing. We do have one state, Pennsylvania that is putting aside the late arriving ballots. The big issue there was, could the state extend the three-day waiting period instead of having to have received those ballots by election day? And the office of elections is putting them separate. Those might be challenged. I could see perhaps those getting thrown out with a 54 Supreme Court. The Supreme Court refused to… It didn’t refuse, it was unable to weigh in on the State Supreme Court ruling there, which said that that three-day extended time window was okay.
What we have seen from the Supreme Court so far in the legal cases that have come before it for this election, is that they have been reluctant to allow states to make any challenges or changes to the election rules very close to the election. The idea is that yes, states control their elections. This is constitutionally how it works. However, we should not be making any sort of fundamental changes very close to the election because people have a right to expect a system to work as it has worked in the past without changes coming so close to election day. It is possible. We may see some of those ballots disqualified in Pennsylvania because of that. But because Joe Biden has a lead in these other states, it looks like Georgia will probably go to a recount. I don’t see how you can make that sort of challenge in a place like Georgia, which would certainly give Joe Biden enough. And if he has Arizona and Nevada, he still has enough.
So to change the outcome of the presidential level, I don’t see this as being successful in the long run. Doesn’t mean it’s not going to throw more uncertainty into it. Doesn’t mean they’re not going to still go with that path as the president has said he wants to and probably as his lawyers are telling him, he probably should. They are paid by the hour, right? Okay. Next question.
Kira:
Thank you. So this question might deserve its own webinar, but what do you think contributed to Biden’s win? Was it the Trump’s campaign’s mistakes?
Todd Belt:
I think that was a big part of it. Not trying to really go out and expand the base was a problem for Trump. Another issue was the tactics that he used against Joe Biden, to try to attack him as being weak on law and order, to say that he would not be able to stand up to the left wing of the party. They didn’t resonate. We saw them do this, and we saw no fluctuation in the polls. The polls continued to show separation between Biden and Trump. Trump just couldn’t get any traction with his attacks on Joe Biden because Joe Biden was so well-liked. Look at those traits that we talked about. Those character traits, people really like Joe Biden.
People didn’t like Hillary Clinton very much. So the attacks that came from Donald Trump calling her Crooked Hillary, they found a much more fertile ground to grow on when it came, especially with that Comey reissue of the investigation one week beforehand. And those very, very small margins that we saw. So if you’re going to try to attack somebody, you better make sure they’re not a really well-liked person like Joe Biden, because you won’t find a whole lot of traction there. Next question.
Kira:
Yes. So we’re back to the Florida Latino voters. Unlike Florida voters, it appears that Arizona and Texas, those votes made a difference for Biden. Is this an accurate assessment?
Todd Belt:
Boy, I want to wait and get some more data where we can drill down a little bit. I think this is really, really interesting. Whoever brought this question up, thank you. We know that George W. Bush did tremendously well among Hispanic population in Texas having been the governor there. Texas didn’t have the type of thing that California had when California had Proposition 209 and these anti-illegal immigration things that really turned the Hispanic population against the Republican party in that state. The Latin population in Texas is again, more fertile ground for Republicans than it has been in the past, but they are moving away. We also know that that critical group, you saw how slanted that 18 to 29 vote was. We know that a segment of the youth population, of the young adult population is becoming disproportionately a larger proportion of Hispanics and also Asian population.
So those demographic shifts, I think, also really have an important role to play. I think there’s a lot going on there. You mentioned Arizona. Arizona is really a state that’s in flux. There’s a lot of retirees out there, who’ve moved out there from places like California, so that the retirement will go further. Remember we saw the 65 plus crowd break even this time instead of favoring Trump. It’s also a very young population out there, a lot of new voters in Arizona. So I think, great question. What’s happening with these voting groups? What are the demographic changes there? What are the appeals that are working? I don’t have a really great answer for that, but that’s certainly something we really need to look into. So thank you for that question. Okay, next question.
Kira:
Yeah. A couple of questions coming in regarding social media. So our audiences, thank you very much for your time. And in [inaudible 00:53:08], all the misinformation that has been spreading and taken into account the 2016 election and the role social media played, do you think social media has done more harm than good in our democracy?
Todd Belt:
A lot of the political science scholarship about the issue of people putting themselves in opinion bubbles and not listening to one another, the jury’s kind of out on that. Some studies find that, some studies don’t. We know Professor Michael Cornfield and myself have done research on people who do a lot of posting of politics and use social media. And we find them to be more extreme, more hyper-partisan in their views. Of course, that makes compromise and discussion much more difficult and much more fraught.
So it looks like social media is a problem. We see this new conservative social media site, it’s called, I forget the name of it but a lot of people are moving off of Facebook and onto it. So I think social media is something that’s really important because that’s where a lot of people get their information and that’s where a lot of people get into fights. So we can’t discount the importance of this in in our civic dialogue. I do think that these platforms need to do a better job of trying to help with the process but I’m sort of a free speech absolutist as well. So I don’t like them getting too involved, but again, this is not a free speech issue because you have impassibly agreed to their operating terms when you get an account. So it’s a tough one. We don’t know for sure, but it looks like this is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Okay.
Kira:
Great.
Todd Belt:
Is there time for a few more questions Kira?
Kira:
Yeah, we have time for a couple more, and then I will pass back to you for the closing statement Professor Belt. So this question has to do with the Indian MP Modi who supported Trump openly appeal to vote Trump, but as a result is opposite. The result is opposite. How will Biden look now? What kind of impact is that going to have on India’s relation with the U.S. under Modi?
Todd Belt:
Oh, really good question. Kamala Harris is also the center note. Her parents are Indian as well, right? So there might be an opportunity there to use the vice-president as a surrogate to help broker some deals there. But when it comes to leaders of foreign countries, they’re going to have to do business with whoever’s the head of state in the United States. We’ve already seen the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu already congratulated Joe Biden. So people know that when it comes to foreign policy, our president is the premier person when it comes to dealing with foreign policy. So I presume Modi will try, even though he was outspoken in his support of Trump, he’s going to have to get along with Joe Biden. There are just so many economic connections between the United States and India that it would be foolish not to make sure that there is a continuation and no break and in that. So I estimate that things will smooth over. You have to work with whoever you have to work with whether it’s the other side or not.
Kira:
Great. So we have time to [inaudible 00:56:53] one more final question, and then you can go right into the closing statement, Professor Belt. So currently the system of the electronic representation seems to favor the Republicans, both on presidential and the Senate level, any remedy to this?
Todd Belt:
Right. Well, the Democrats are already talking about making D.C. and Puerto Rico states. So that will up their stranglehold on the Electoral College States by four electoral votes or so. Well, D.C. already gets the Electoral College, but when we think about the Senate, that’d be four more senators. So three electoral votes from Puerto Rico, but maybe four more senators. This is a problem in the Senate, as well as the Electoral College. The representation of fewer people by more senators in the Senate and the representation of fewer people by more electors in the Electoral College is also an issue. So how do we get around it? Well, if you want to reform the Electoral College, two ways to do it. When I was talking about Colorado signing on to the interstate National Popular Vote Compact, that’s one way. Doesn’t require the changing of the Electoral College.
If you do really want to get rid of the Electoral College, it requires a constitutional amendment which would require two thirds of the state to put together a new constitutional convention or two thirds of the House and the Senate to propose an amendment. And then three quarters of the states to ratify that amendment. That means 38 states have to agree, “We want to get rid of the Electoral College.” Funny thing is, we usually have 10 to 12 States that are swing states that disproportionately benefit from the Electoral College. And so it’s going to be really close. Also, you Republicans benefit from the Electoral College. So, we can probably see that a number of states like Wyoming, North and South Dakota, their senators probably would not favor a change in the Electoral College. So I think the easiest way around it would be the Electoral Vote Compact. Okay Kira, anytime for any more or are we all done?
Kira:
I think that is it. And we made it just on time as well. So Professor Belt, I pass it back to you for any final statement to our audience. Thank you so much.
Todd Belt:
All right. Well, I’m thrilled to be with you today and to discuss this historical election that we’ve had and I think it’s just really remarkable if those of you didn’t get to ask question, you can you can have my email. You can find me really easy on the GSPM website, and I’ll be happy to answer a question for you. Please get in contact with us if you’re interested in our program. We are the first and foremost program in Applied Politics. If you have questions about your MBA or other degrees or how you can… I also forgot to mention that if you’ve been out of school for five years and you’ve been working in politics, you can put together a work portfolio and get out of the GRE that way. So that’s another way of doing that.
So lots of ways to get in. We’re a graduate program. We try to be flexible with how people come to us. But we do this real on the ground, real-world practical politics. If you want to change the world, if you want to get the skills to do it, come to us, we’ll show you how. Thanks for spending your lunchtime with me. And I hope it’s been… Some answers to your questions, as many as I could. I hope you all are safe, take care and be good to one another. We need a lot more collaboration and a lot more compromise these days. Take care.
Kira:
Thank you so much Professor Belt and to our audience for spending time with us. And we look forward to welcoming you to our spring cohort, which is going to be in January. And you can get in touch with Jillian the enrollment advisor team to get your application started. Take care.