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For forty-odd years, from the moment my mom tried to explain the bizarre development of a peanut farmer romping through the Democractic primary in the mid-70s, I’ve been magnetized by politics. There’s something irresistible about a massive human project with so many contradictory, layered, and interdisciplinary impulses, all crashing against each other to produce unexpected outcomes. Or it was, until 2016. That’s when I developed a sense of helplessness about politics, which no longer seemed dynamic nor unexpected — and worse, which now seem to be headed on an inexorable path toward a constitutional crisis..

My helplessness stems from the…


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Blink O’Fanaye/Flickr

Governments have faced hundreds of insurrections over the centuries, but none have been as well-documented as last Wednesday’s MAGA mob. This is only partly because past rioters haven’t owned smart phones: one of the weirdest — and most revealing — quirks of the Capitol insurrection was how readily rioters were to document their crimes. Through their smiles and triumphal IG posts about “patriots,” we observe a body of people so trapped in a false narrative they literally can’t imagine an alternative one. …


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In the first of three posts on the fallout of the 2020 election, I consider the results themselves.

Magnitude of the Win

The final results are still not quite in (New York again sets the standard for failure to tally ballots), but we know Biden won 306 electoral votes, will have won more than 81 million votes overall, and achieved a margin that will end up somewhere between 4.5–5% . That’s a good win but no landslide and as a result, partisans on both sides have been trying to characterize it as more or less than it was. Let’s look at it in historical…


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Forecasts made a day or two before an election are almost always composed for the benefit of forecasters who are attempting to talk themselves into a favored outcome. I am resisting that temptation and instead trying to focus my mind on those factors that will actually matter tomorrow.

Every Election is a Simple Proposition

I’ve been poring over individual states, looking at early-voting data, sussing out voting demographics, assessing who controls the voting apparatus, and trying to predict the likelihood of a Biden win in each case. At one point I was listening to a podcast in which a statistician was pointing out the possible salience…


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This is an unprecedented election. To date, ~66 million votes have already been cast, and that number could top 100m by Election Day. Election experts expect a huge turnout, most pegging the number at 150–160m — far more than the 137m who turned out in 2016.

The really shocking development is that one party, through state suppression and judicial decree, is actively trying to disqualify enough of the vote so the incumbent can cling to power. No one believes Trump can actually win a majority of votes. “Winning” for the GOP amounts to something between narrowly legal technical victory and…


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As the baroque, late-empire spectacle of the Supreme Court battle unfolds during this election year, let’s talk about one easy fix that would substantially reduce some of the nation’s dysfunction. The founders, in all their wisdom, decided to put more veto points in our government than any other modern democracy. The Supreme Court is the final way for leaders to stop laws from taking place (or, as may be case in less than a year, trashing duly-passed legal legislation like ObamaCare), and as such has become one of the most contentious and polarizing institutions in the country.

Much of what…


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Real Clear Politics poll tracker, Biden v Trump

The election that would never end is suddenly speeding toward its conclusion. For so many months, all our speculation was purely theoretical — and all commentary ended with disclaimers about how much things might change. Once Labor Day comes, however, the presidential picture begins to firm up. Over the last 15 cycles, no candidate with a polling lead at Labor Day has ever lost the popular vote. Two have lost the presidency — including Hillary Clinton in 2016 — but polls are no longer meaningless. …


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(Getty Images)

Until last week’s disturbing Republican Convention, I was able to place the specter of a second Trump term in the back of my mind. In the midst of a pandemic and open conflict over racial justice, it was literally unthinkable. And, thanks to those crises, it’s been easy to imagine a Biden presidency. The polls have been soothing. As it stands now, Biden holds an 8–9% lead in national polls, with leads from 5–8% in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona. Trump has bled support in nearly every category of voter, including, thanks to his fine work on the pandemic…


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Brynn Anderson/AP

Joe Biden announced his selection of Kamala Harris as Vice President a few hours ago. Despite Harris’ profile and the predictability of the choice, it’s a big deal. Historically speaking, consider how hard it is for Black, female politicians in the US:

  • There have only been eleven Black state attorneys-general in the US. Kamala Harris was the first woman.
  • Only 57 women have ever served as a US senator.
  • Only ten Black politicians have ever served as a senator, only five were elected, and only two were women. Harris was one of them.
  • Only four women have ever appeared on…


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Joe Biden’s failure to make a decision about his Veep is … not good. This is the first and only opportunity to demonstrate leadership non-incumbent candidates have. It should be a gimme. There are hundreds of Americans who could plausibly fill the role, and dozens that will be hailed as excellent. Study after study has shown that the downside risk is very low with any VP selection: avoid choosing a Palin or Quayle and you’re good. Even a Pence proved adequate. …

Jeff Alworth

Jeff Alworth is the author of several books including The Beer Bible and Cider Made Simple, as well as the co-founder of the political website BlueOregon.

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