John Gimenez attaches a flag to his vehicle during an event hosted by the Hispanic Federation to encourage voting in the Latino community Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla.
( AP Photo/John Raoux
Tanzina: It's The Takeaway and it's no longer election day, but election week. I'm Tanzina Vega with you on this day after the election and the votes are still being counted in states across the country, so far, we do not have a winner. On this Wednesday with so much left unanswered, one thing is clear, many of you feel the weight of what's at stake and you get the first word.
Speaker 1: I feel like everything is at stake.
Speaker 2: The marriage rights for so many of my LGBTQ+ friends and family, healthcare, I'm a cancer survivor and now uninsured after being laid off of my job.
Speaker 3: To me, it's concerning that there's a certain element that is now so loud and so visible. I feel like that Trump has given has given these people a voice.
Speaker 4: What's at stake for me as an educator is the future for my students. Seeing if they can stay at home and be safe from this pandemic or if we are still going to be forced to stay in schools.
Speaker 5: I am voting like my life depends on it because it does. Being a woman, being a woman of Hispanic descent, being a single mother, it's been rough, especially now with COVID and I work in a hospital.
Speaker 6: My vote was actually for my grandchildren. It's about the world that's going to be left to them.
Tanzina: Amy Walter is the host of Politics with Amy Walter right here on The Takeaway and the national editor at The Cook Political Report and my colleague who joins me now to break all this down. Amy, welcome.
Tanzina: We made it?
Amy: I think so. I'm operating on about two hours of sleep. I guess, make it is all in the eye of the beholder.
Tanzina: Very relative and as we said, this election day has now turned into election week, potentially weeks. At this point, we could be looking at forever how long it takes to really count these outstanding ballots.
Amy: That's right. Tanzina, to me, what's so remarkable about where we sit right now is it feels so familiar to where we have been basically since 2016. We've had so much that has happened between 2016 and now, not the least of which, obviously, a pandemic and an economic collapse, racial reckoning, et cetera, and yet we sit here with a country as deeply divided as it was when we came out of the 2016 election.
Where the issue of the pandemic, even as cases were spiking, did not seem to have much of an impact on support the president, where it did have the biggest impact as you pointed out was on how especially many Democrats ended up casting their ballots instead of waiting to show up on election day, they cast their ballots earlier vote or mailed them in, which means now we have time that we have to wait for them to be counted.
Tanzina: I think what you're describing that the backdrop to all of this is really surprising to I think a lot of people who are watching this election, myself included. We have more than 230,000 people who have died from the coronavirus. It's still peaking in many of the key battleground states, in particular, Wisconsin. 8 million Americans have been pushed into poverty. A lot of folks can't secure food for their families or for themselves and so where we are right now and then when you look at early exit polls, it indicates that even the racial breakdown of voters was very similar to what we saw in 2016.
I'm just wondering how much of this is about the strength of the Trump campaign and the Trumpism and its version of the GOP versus the, I don't want to say weakness of the Democrats, but the inability to really hammer home a definitive win this early in the process.
Amy: It's really interesting. You had, of course, Barack Obama run on the, we don't have a blue America and a red America. Hillary Clinton campaigned on uniting America. Joe Biden talked about the fact that he's going to be a president for all America, but Donald Trump has been very clear from the very beginning that there is one America that he is interested and in supporting and then there's the other America that he does not spend a whole lot of time trying to reach into.
He's not particularly interested in bridging that divide between the two of them. He has really forced Americans then to pick a side. There's no middle ground that you can base your vote on. You're either with him or you're against him. It becomes much more about it is a cultural symbol more than it is a policy debate where our politics are, which is, as you've said, quite remarkable.
In a year where we have so much at stake that the actual debate over the healthcare, the economy, the pandemic, racial justice, police violence, all of those things, they were part of it, but really essentially for many voters, it was whose side do you want to be on? What we find is look, there are still more Americans who choose to be on the side of the Democrats. Right now, Joe Biden has something like, when I was last looking at this, something close to a 3 million popular vote lead, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan absentee votes being counted. Remember those are going to break overwhelmingly for Democrats.
It's close, but there still is a-- when you look at the popular vote, piece of this, there is still a greater portion in one camp than the other, but still, we are an incredibly divided country that not even a pandemic can unite.
Tanzina: I think that's actually very accurate and it's interesting to see how again the early exit poll data is still very much in line with what we saw four years ago. I want to also bring up something that both of the candidates spoke last night and had very different messages. Joe Biden was very low energy. He brought this very, let's all be patient and wait for things to play out. Trump in his usual style was erratic and also wrong. The president has indicated that they have won the election, which is not true.
The president has not won the election. In fact, there are still millions of ballots to be counting, and should also clarify that the president indicated that voting shouldn't happen after election day and we should tell our listeners that there is no voting happening after election day. What's happening is the counting and the president's challenges right now appear to be against counting remaining ballots, not the process of voting. How did those messages resonate last night you think?
Amy: Interesting. I'll be very curious to see how Americans are processing that now, since both of them made those statements after one o'clock in the morning, East Coast Time so I'm sure a lot of people were asleep and are now waking up to this but look, I do think that you're right, this is par for the course for a president who has been laying the groundwork, Tanzina, for months, that the only way he's going to lose if it's rigged, the only way he's going to lose if it's stolen, that there'll be fraudulent ballots counted and cast, et cetera.
I don't know however that that's going to hold up once all these ballots are counted and we see what the margin is here. We also know that and we've been talking a lot about this on the show on Friday. I know you all have been talking about it too during the week, but the challenge for these Midwestern states in counting absentee ballots is driven in large part by the fact that in some cases like Pennsylvania, the Republican legislatures said, "No, we're not going to allow you to start processing ballots before election day. In other words-
Tanzina: Processing is different than counting, right? We should note that processing means opening the envelope, setting out the ballot, not actually counting or getting the ballots in. Why did they take that approach? Because the Republicans have been roundly criticized even by members of their own party for being really heavy-handed when it comes to attempting to stop or obstruct the voting process in some way.
Amy: There's no other way to explain that. It's one thing to have a debate over some of the rules around election day, who can stand X number of yards from the polling place, how many people can be inside at one time, those sorts of things, but this is honestly just a processing issue that would have made the Pennsylvania vote move much more smoothly. Remember actually, the legislation in Pennsylvania to allow a more robust vote by mail was something that was passed I think it was in 2017, 2018 maybe with bipartisan support.
Republicans in Pennsylvania were supportive of opening more avenues for voters to cast their ballots and in just these last few months, as the President has talked about this idea that the vote is rigged and it's going to be stolen, it was then that they really started pushing back on any attempts to make this process move more expeditiously. We now are going to wait for the count, which, as you pointed out, this happens all the time. We wait for votes. There's nothing in the constitution that says the election has to be decided on the first Tuesday in November, but the real question is just how long does this drag out and how serious is the President about making these claims.
Tanzina: Before we wrap, I definitely want to-- We mentioned a little bit about what early exit poll data is telling us. Again, it's very early and we're still gathering this information, but if trends remain, one of the biggest voting blocks that's been talked about have been white women in the suburbs. Amy, did they come out for President Trump?
Amy: No. In fact, the one bit of good news for Biden at this point is how well he did two places that have flipped, Arizona, thanks to Maricopa County, which is Phoenix and the suburbs around Phoenix, and the Nebraska 2nd congressional district, which is an electoral vote. Nebraska gives its electoral votes by congressional district, that's suburban Omaha. We're waiting for suburban Philadelphia and suburban Michigan. Those are the bright spots for Biden.
The not so bright spots, Texas. Once again, the Rio Grande Valley where Democrats have always pointed to saying, "Boy, if we can turn out Latino votes, if we can get those voters on our side, we can turn Texas blue." Not only did those voters not turn out for Joe Biden, but they didn't turn out for a Democratic candidate for the house. They lost a seat there or they didn't lose it, but they were hoping to flip it. It looked like it was going to be one of the bright spots for Democrats in that state and it has stayed red.
Tanzina: We're turning to Texas next. Amy Walter is the host of Politics with Amy Walter on The Takeaway and national editor of TheCook Political Report. Amy, thanks so much.
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