What did we learn from Election 2020?

Even as the nation waited to see if Joe Biden would emerge the winner in the race for the White House against President Donald Trump, both parties were searching through the details of the vote count for clues as to what worked - and what did not - in Election 2020.

Here’s some of the things I’ve thought about so far:

+ There was no Blue Wave in the heart of Texas. The turnout was amazing in the Lone Star State, as we had seen in the two weeks before the election. Many Democrats were excited by the higher number of votes, hoping it was going to signal big Democratic gains in the Lone Star State. Lots of my friends wanted to know if that was true. I told them I wasn’t convinced Democrats were going to win there. And that was the right call. Both parties motivated their voters - and in fact - that was something which we saw in most states around the nation.

+ You gotta have evidence. One thing that has developed on social media - and in politics of late - is that people think they can make a charge, and then it’s the responsibility of reporters to disprove their assertion. That’s not the way it works. If you are going to make a serious charge about vote fraud and election fraud - then you need to produce evidence. Reporters aren’t going to let themselves get used - we are going to ask questions. One claim from the Trump Campaign evaporated in a few hours in Nevada.

+ You gotta have evidence, part 2. Again, when you are making wild charges of wrongdoing about elections, it tells me that you don’t really understand the election processes going on. And we’ve seen that repeatedly. Ballots being burned! No, they weren’t. Ballots being filled out by poll workers! No, that didn’t happen. Boxes of ballots in a dumpster! No, that didn’t happen either. People don’t split their tickets - it must be fraud! No, they split their tickets. For days, it’s been the same thing. Lots of charges and hardly any real evidence.

+ States need to improve their election laws. The polls closed in Florida on Election Night at 7 pm. Just a few minutes later, Broward County (Fort Lauderdale) released the results of nearly 800,000 early votes. Go north to Pennsylvania. The polls closed at 8 pm. But it took four long days for officials to release all the early vote results. Why? Because the GOP legislature in Pennsylvania refused to pass laws giving county elections officials the ability to pre-process and prep all their non-Election Day ballots. There was no reason for this type of screw up and delay.

+ More GOP women coming to Congress. Two years ago, I detailed how the number of female GOP lawmakers in the U.S. House had dropped dramatically. Lots of people were mad that I reported how the GOP caucus in the House was overwhelmingly white and male. But it was true. Now, Republicans can celebrate a big change, as a record number of GOP women will be in the 118th Congress. The ebb and flow of politics and life. This time it works to the GOP’s advantage.

+ Democrats grumble over outcome in Congress. This was supposed to be a big celebration for Democrats. Not only would they knock off President Trump, but they would win seats in the House and take over the Senate. In the House, Republicans have currently gained 5 seats - and there are maybe 5-7 more Democrats who could lose, which means Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have an even more narrow majority in the 117th Congress. I still wonder if Pelosi will be the Speaker for another term.

+ House Democrats grumble. Why did I say that about Speaker Pelosi’s future above? Because when your side loses seats in an election, it’s not usually a good thing. Back in 1998, Speaker Newt Gingrich resigned after the GOP lost 5 seats in the mid-term elections. Pelosi may lose more than that. In an times heated conference call with Democrats, some of those who lost - or who had tough races - had tough words for their more liberal colleagues about certain progressive policies which made their re-election either impossible or very difficult.

Jamie Dupree

Jamie Dupree, CMG Washington News Bureau

Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau