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Here’s my prediction for the U.S. election, which is just 4 days away… and also some predictions for what I think will happen in the months after that.
I expect that Biden is going to win by a landslide and that it’s not even going to be close.
Yes, Trump and the Republicans will continue doing their best to suppress the vote, especially in the swing states, but I don’t think it’s going to make enough of a difference to change the election outcome. The fact that they’re doing this at such an unprecedented scale is a sign of incredible desperation. Even with such overt attempts to cheat, I don’t think those efforts will be nearly enough to tilt the election away from a massive Biden win. If anything I think that stooping so low is backfiring by riling up even more people to vote for Biden – and to vote earlier than they otherwise would have.
It’s understandable that after the 2016 election, a lot of people are feeling trepidatious, like they’re still suffering from PTSD after having endured four years of such monumental stupidity and insanity. People don’t want to get their hopes up this time till they know the outcome for sure. They’re wondering if the polls that show a massive Biden lead are accurate enough to be trusted this time.
Sometimes when you bet on a 90% likely outcome, that nasty 10% comes up now and then. I think one issue with this election is that many people regard the 90% likely outcome as decent and okay but more about relief than genuine excitement, whereas that 10% probability leads to a really dark, scary, and violent place. So that 10% draws a lot of attention because of how awful it is. People really want to avoid that pit of despair.
It’s like spinning a roulette wheel where one of the slots on the wheel results in the loss of a finger. Even if all of the remaining slots represent modest wins or losses, you’re likely to be fixated on that one horrendous potential outcome, even though it’s very unlikely to happen on a single spin.
I’m not entirely sure if a Biden victory will become clear on election night this time, but I anticipate that some news outlets will call a Biden victory on election night. I think that when a Biden victory is initially declared though, many people are going to want more certainty and reassurance about that outcome. People will wonder if it’s really true. So I also expect that it will probably take 48-72 hours before there’s a real social consensus around Biden’s victory. Then I think there’s going to be a lot of celebrating.
I also predict that afterwards it will be a bit messy. Trump will predictably behave like a whiny sore loser. He’ll cry foul and will resort to more dirty tricks, and conspiracy theories will circulate. But I also think there will be a strong enough pushback against that sort of nonsense to keep it well-contained and limited in scope. I expect that enough people are going to put their foot down on this one and not allow things to backslide into what we’ve had to deal with for the past four years. Too many people are really eager for a transition, and I think they’ll band together to prevent a backslide once the election outcome is clear enough.
I also think that resistance from Trump’s own party will limit what he can do after he’s lost. I think fewer people will be willing to play the role of enabler for him. We’re already seeing signs of that now. So that’s going to limit his options. He’ll be able to rile people up on social media as usual, but I don’t think he’ll get enough traction to do what it would take to stop himself from being steamrolled out of office.
I don’t think it’s going to make enough of a difference what Trump does after the election. People already expect him to behave like he’s always been behaving – badly – and so they’ll tolerate a few more months of that nonsense until January, after which they’ll absolutely refuse to tolerate any more of it. So I expect that Biden will take office in January.
I don’t think we’ll be seeing a big revolution or a ton of violence between now and January. There may be some isolated incidents after Trump loses, but I think it will be very limited in scope, nothing close to a national uprising (even if Trump tries to label it as such).
If Trump goes totally off the deep-end, and I wouldn’t discount that possibility, I think he’ll run into serious headwinds with both mainstream and social media resisting those efforts. While those outlets may benefit from stirring up some fear and social outrage, an all-out revolution isn’t in their interests, and being seen as enabling or promoting violence isn’t good for their brands, so I think we can expect the media to act out of self-interest in this case and crack down on anything like that hard and fast. So even if Trump tries to incite his supporters into violence, I don’t think he’ll get far with that approach. He’s too boxed in by strong counter-forces that ought to keep him in check. The media will let him do some damage as long as it’s entertaining and keeps generating clicks and views, but not so much that it creates a crazy-high level of risk for them.
Biden will have his work cut out for him, and I think that due to the coronavirus situation, people aren’t going to want him to wait to start turning things around. So I anticipate that by mid-November, people will already be looking to Biden to start seriously leading in whatever ways he can. I think people will be treating him as our de facto President well before he actually takes office, marginalizing Trump more and more. For starters it wouldn’t surprise me if Biden and Fauci start doing joint press conferences together by the end of the year, sharing how they’re already working cooperatively on the coronavirus situation. And I think Biden would be smart to do that.
After the 2016 election, Obama made an effort to transition gracefully, including inviting Trump to the White House, where Obama welcomed him and showed him around. I don’t expect Trump to do this for Biden. I expect that Trump will cry foul and whine about the outcome and keep spinning up more lies and promoting conspiracies, even long after January. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect Trump to leave office graciously.
Even after leaving office, Trump will retain his big social media following, so we can expect him to continue being an online menace. It wouldn’t surprise me if he continues playing the role of conspiracy promoter for many more years. I also think that social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook will take increasing flak for tolerating his lies once he’s no longer President. I don’t think they’ll ban him outright, but I’d expect stronger warnings and more post deletions at the very least. I don’t think they’ll want Trump dragging down their brands too much, but they’ll also want to retain access to all the traffic and ad revenue he generates.
I think Trump may have a harder time getting on Fox News once he’s no longer President. Despite their enabling his nonsense for so long, I think they’ll eventually tire of him after he’s out of office, not wanting to keep associating with him if they don’t have to. I think they’ll opt to engage in some brand reconstruction starting in 2021, and I think that will involve moving away from being so closely linked with Trump. It would be a stretch to call them a legitimate news outlet, but I think they’ll try to re-brand themselves closer to center, so they don’t have to keep being as ridiculous as they’ve been in recent years. It wouldn’t surprise me if they already have such a plan in place right now.
I think that in 2021, people will largely relate to Biden with hope, compassion, and a cooperative spirit – except Trump supporters who will just keep behaving as nutters do. Reasonable people know that Biden is inheriting an absolute mess that isn’t his fault, and I think they’ll cut him a lot of slack for the first six months at least. He can hardly do worse than 2020, so just about any modestly intelligent behavior – and the lack of insanity – will go a long way towards generating social support for his efforts. People will demand a lot from him, but even if he did nothing, that alone would be an improvement, so I don’t think he has a very high bar to clear to make 2021 better than 2020.
I think many people are going to be delighted to remember what it’s like like to see honesty and human decency from a President. That will be such a refreshing change.
I think Biden will be good at uniting people around the great challenges we face, even as Trump will continue trying to stir up trouble. Long after Biden takes office, I expect that Trump will serve as an ongoing drag coefficient, actively trying to undermine Biden’s efforts. Even so, I think the years ahead will be optimistic and hopeful ones as we collectively deal with many struggles. We have a lot on our plates, and we know it won’t be easy.
I think that at least through 2021, many people will be so relieved and grateful that Trump is no longer President, and they’ll be glad to face the big challenges of life with rationality and sanity at the level of national leadership instead of stupidity, insanity, and daily lying.
So that’s my overall prediction for what I think is coming up. Let’s see how accurate this is. 🙂