Reason Roundup

With Biden Up in Pennsylvania, Are We Headed Toward Gridlock?

Plus: Republicans denounce Trump fraud allegations, Trump campaign mounts multiple legal challenges, and more...


Biden wins? Maybe? Decision Desk, an independent vote counting operation, is calling Pennsylvania for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, which would give Biden enough electoral votes to win. But the call is tentative in the face of anticipated recounts and legal challenges, and no major news network has called the race for Biden at this time.

Meanwhile, it looks like Republicans are likely (but not certain) to win control of the U.S. Senate, setting the country up for gridlock. While partisans are grumbling, folks who favor limited government may find some appeal in a federal government at odds with itself.

Biden is now narrowly leading in Georgia, as well as in the battleground states of Nevada (with 49.4 percent to Trump's 48.5 percent) and Arizona (50.1 percent to 48.5 percent).

Trump was leading narrowly in North Carolina (50 percent to 48.6 percent) and by quite a bit in Alaska (62.9 percent to 33 percent), though only 46 percent of Alaska ballots have been counted so far.

In North Carolina and Georgia, 99 percent of ballots had been tallied as of Friday morning, according to The Washington Post. Ninety percent had been counted in Arizona, and 89 percent in Nevada.

As Trump's path to victory vanishes, his campaign and closest allies have been desperately casting about to challenge the legitimacy of the results in federal courts and American minds. And way too many Republican politicians and pundits have been playing along, spreading grave but hysterical warnings about voter fraud for which none of them can muster any evidence. Nonetheless, some of the president's usual partners in disinformation have suddenly been willing to publicly question Trumpworld's spin.

Trump himself gave a speech last night that included allegations of wild—and utterly unsubstantiated—fraud. "This is a case where they're trying to steal an election. They're trying to rig an election, and we can't let that happen," said the president.

"It was an imagined version of reality," The New York Times writes, "one in which he was not losing but the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy stretching across the country in multiple cities, counties and states, involving untold numbers of people all somehow collaborating to steal the election in ways he could not actually explain."

It was also a bridge too far for at least some Republicans.

Former New Jersey governor and general Trump booster Chris Christie slammed Trump's speech, saying on ABC News: "I talk tonight…as a former U.S. Attorney. There's just no basis to make that argument tonight. There just isn't."

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said Trump's speech "was very hard to watch" because "the president's allegations of large-scale fraud and theft of the election are just not substantiated. I'm not aware of any significant wrongdoing here."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, also a Republican who represented Pennsylvania, called the president's comments "very disappointing and shocking."

Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted "there is no defense for the President's comments tonight undermining our Democratic process. America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before. No election or person is more important than our Democracy."

Earlier in the day, Trump was demanding that ballots stop being counted—apparently necessitating someone explaining to him that if they stopped now, Biden would definitely win. While Trump tweets, his campaign has been pursuing a strategy of selectively alleging in court that some ballots be disqualified.

It's a reminder that regardless of what gets called today, we've still got a long slog ahead.

Yesterday, "the Trump campaign intensified its legal efforts across battleground states … winning a ruling related to election observers in Pennsylvania, suffering losses in Michigan and Georgia and backing a lawsuit over alleged irregularities in Nevada," notes The Wall Street Journal:

The flurry of challenges ranged across states where Democrat Joe Biden either held a lead over President Trump or was improving his position with late-counted absentee ballots. National Republicans and Democrats have deployed attorneys to push or deflect legal challenges in one of the most litigated elections in modern history.

Mr. Trump suffered a setback Thursday in Michigan, when a judge denied his campaign's effort to halt the counting of absentee ballots there, in part because the lawsuit was brought against the wrong government officials and was filed too late: All the state's votes have been counted. Mr. Biden holds a 160,000 vote lead in Michigan, where the Associated Press called the race for him.

The Trump campaign won a suit in Pennsylvania to institute more poll watchers as ballots are still being counted there, as well as a lawsuit challenging some ballots there:

a Pennsylvania judge ordered local election officials to set aside certain mail-in ballots of first-time voters who were permitted to provide proof of identification if they had previously neglected to do so. That ruling is a temporary win for the Trump campaign, which had alleged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that election officials were wrongly allowing some first-time voters to provide their missing proof of identification after Nov. 9.

Trump 2020 lost a suit in Georgia, where it sought to exclude some late-arriving ballots from being counted in Chatham County.

Still, appeals and future challenges are possible. And with counts as close as they are in many states, this week's results should still be taken with at least a few grains of salt.


• New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state may finally legalize marijuana this year because "the state is going to be desperate for funding."

• Philadelphia police are investigating an alleged plan to attack the convention center where ballots are being counted.

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