The Possible Aftermath of the Election


By Harry Robertson, Reporter

As we near the end of one of the most tumultuous and stressful election cycles in the history of the United States, there is a massive amount of uncertainty. Over the last four years, the American people have become accustomed to President Donald Trump’s defiance of legal norms. Entering November, many are questioning whether or not Trump’s sporadic violations of ethics will breach the sanctity of our elections. 


There are numerous possible scenarios that may emerge on election night. However, for the sake of brevity and length, we will focus on the one that pollsters deem the most likely: a Biden victory. Biden is poised to win the majority of battleground states, as touted in this article by The Guardian, but the race is still tight. As many have come to realize since 2016, polls are not an infallible entity, but 2020 polls demonstrate Biden retaining a much greater lead than Hillary Clinton seemingly possessed in 2016. That being said, what would Donald Trump’s response look like in the case of a Biden victory?


The answer is not simple. In a normal election, the apparent loser, typically determined the night of the election, contacts their opponent with a declaration of concession. This signals the end of the race, and who the president is. However, we are not in the midst of a normal election. We have already seen signs that Trump is going to contest the results, as seen in this interview with Chris Wallace, where the president refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. More recently, Trump has also prematurely claimed that as soon as the votes have been counted, “…we’re going in with our lawyers.”


All this to say, Trump is likely going to contest the results, and with that comes a slew of litigative issues. One big scare for voters is the disproportionately republican-skewed Supreme Court, and with Justice Kavanaugh citing Bush v. Gore in a recent ruling regarding voting rights, there is fear that a possible ruling may be in the interest of Donald Trump. The likelihood that an election dispute making it all the way to the Supreme Court is unlikely, however that scenario, if it were to occur, would be grim.


Another legitimate fear owned by Democrats is that of armed militias, more aptly titled “domestic terrorists,” causing violence and harm in the wake of a Trump defeat. These groups have already practiced different methods of political intimidation, ranging from “poll observing,” to planning an armed kidnapping of the governor of Michigan. Furthermore, Trump’s call in the September debate for white supremacists to “Stand back and stand by” has only stoked the fire that fuels these groups. It is likely that, in a Biden victory, there will be unrest, but to what degree is uncertain.


The final, and possibly worst-case scenario is that of a “Red Mirage.” This is a situation in which, on election day, the influx of Republicans practicing in-person voting makes it seem like Donald Trump has won, and then, as mail-in ballots are slowly counted, Biden wins handedly. For months now, Donald Trump has made it clear that he believes that the Democrats are going to rig the election, citing mail-in-voting as fraudulent and dangerous. It is likely that in the case of a Red Mirage that he will claim fraud, and dispute the election the same way George Bush did in 2000. 


What is doubly worrying is the presence of judges on the current Supreme Court who also adjudicated Bush v. Gore back in 2000. Justices Thomas and Breyer both ruled in favor of Bush, and are both currently seated as associate justices. Again, if election disputes were to make it all the way to the Supreme Court, it doesn’t look promising for Democrats. That being said, it is very unlikely that happens, and election disputes will likely be litigated on a local level, and Biden has already stated that he has garnered lawyers all across the country in preparation of a legal battle.


There is a very real possibility that none of this happens, though. It has been stated that if the margin of victory between Biden and Trump was massive enough, there would be no grounds on which Trump could contest the results, and he would be forced to concede.


Absolutely nobody, not a single pollster, statistician, analyst, or pundit knows what is going to happen on election day. No one knows exactly what Trump will do to retain power. Not a single soul can predict the aftermath of this race. All anyone can do is stay engaged. If you haven’t yet voted, vote. If you’re unable to vote, try to participate in other ways. Regardless, it’s going to take massive turnout, and massive engagement to win this election, so try to do your part.