If the Democrats had nominated a candidate other than Joe Biden, President Trump might have won re-election.
It is of course impossible to know for sure. But Biden won the states that narrowly won the election – by two percentage points or less in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to current voting figures. And there is good reason to believe that other Democrats may have lost these states. Consider:
In Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, the Democrats nominated a Bernie Sanders-style candidate – Kara Eastman, who supports Medicare for all and was backed by progressive groups like the Justice Democrats – for a seat in the House of Representatives. She lost her race by nearly five percentage points while Biden won the district by nearly seven points.
Why is that important? For the past four years, Trump has dominated American politics. At times, he seemed to have magical political powers to win the presidency, despite disapproving of the usual rules of politics and maintaining a roughly constant approval rating even as he was indicted and leading a terrible pandemic.
In the end, however, Trump had no magical powers. Instead, after Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush, he was only the fourth elected president in the last century to lose re-election. That’s the good news for Democrats.
But there is a great deal of bad news for Democrats too. Despite Trump’s defeat, the Republican Party has retained its popularity across much of the country. A small but crucial segment of Americans chose to vote for both Biden and Republican congressional candidates.
This combination means that neither party has an obvious path forward. Democrats are almost certainly mistaken in concluding that America has become a left-wing country poised to scrap private health insurance, fire the police, scrap immigration enforcement, and vote out Republicans for having Judges fill courts with anti-abortion. Many working class voters – whites, Hispanics, blacks, and Asians – disagree with progressive activists on some of these issues.
But the notion that democrats should simply be at the fore on every issue also seems wrong. A sharp increase in the minimum wage was passed in Florida last week with 61 percent of the vote. Several measures to decriminalize drugs have also been adopted. The expansion of Medicaid, a health insurance program primarily aimed at low-income people, has also been carried out in red states.
Republicans have other problems. You lost the referendum in seven of the last eight presidential elections. They now appear to be on their way to a chaotic battle over who their new national leaders will be – or whether Trump himself will continue to dominate the party.
For more: Congressional Democrats are arguing over the party’s next steps, report Michael Shear and Maggie Astor of The Times. And Ross Douthat, an Op-Ed columnist, examines how post-Trump Republicans can become a majority party.
THE LATEST NEWS
Tropical storm Eta landed in the central part of the Florida Keys yesterday, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in a case aimed at overturning the Affordable Care Act. If the law were put down, millions of people would lose health insurance and people with pre-existing conditions would have difficulty getting insurance.
The fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia continued over the weekend in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh border region. Azerbaijan, which aims to recapture the region controlled by Armenian forces and mainly populated by Armenians, said its military has captured a key city, which Armenian officials have denied.
The media equation: Over the past four years, The Times’ Maggie Haberman has been the source of much we know about Trump’s White House. The end of his presidency means the end of their wild ride, writes Ben Smith.
Lived life: Marguerite Littman, a honey-voiced Louisian and literary muse, taught Hollywood to speak southern states. Her most enduring legacy, however, was an early force in the fight against AIDS. She died at the age of 90.
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ART AND IDEAS
A danger!” symbol
Alex Trebek started saying “Jeopardy!” 1984 with a thick mustache and a pale pink pocket square in its first episode. He got the job in part because I Love Lucy’s Lucille Ball encouraged the show’s producer to hire him. He hosted more than 8,000 episodes, breaking a Bob Barker record of “The Price is Right” for most episodes on a single game show.
Trebek died on Sunday at the age of 80, more than a year after announcing he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His death resulted in a ton of honors from fans who viewed him as a steady – and hilarious – presence in their homes.
In living rooms across the country, viewers could count on an “honest, no-frills knowledge test,” led by Trebek, five evenings a week, according to a 2002 Times article. “We feel like an old pair of shoes,” said Trebek. “We don’t come up with a splash.” Before the pandemic, Trebek hosted five episodes a day two days a week from July to April. At 7:30 a.m., he went through the 305 clues for that day’s shows and made notes. If a notice seemed too difficult, he told the authors to remove it.
Part of his appeal was his honesty, which extended to his battle with cancer. He spoke about it publicly, saying his pain would shoot up “from three to eleven” at times during the shoot.
“With his cerebral demeanor and the aura of quiet, impartial authority, he embodies ideals that feel threatened: the pursuit of knowledge and the inherent value of facts,” wrote Alexandra Alter in a profile this year. And his honesty contained flashes of cautious disappointment when attendees missed a simple question. His tone, he once told New Yorker magazine, tried to convey: “How can you not get that? This is not rocket science. “
Still, many candidates adored him. Some were moved to tears when they met him. In an episode aired last week, a candidate – an Indian immigrant named Burt Thakur – said he learned English by watching Trebek on his grandfather’s lap as a child.
The episodes of the show moderated by Trebek will be broadcast until December 25th.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, LISTEN
What to cook
This gratin is a fresh way to use roasted cauliflower. Tossed with tomato sauce, sauteed red onions, and goat cheese, it’s delicious.
Every year millions of pilgrims come to the central Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate the religious holiday of Arbaeen. Take a tour of the celebrations last year.
Spelling Bee’s pangram on Friday was conditioning. Today’s puzzle is up – or you can play online if you have a game subscription.
Here’s today’s mini crossword and a hint: browser window (three letters).
Thank you for spending part of your morning with The Times. Until tomorrow. – David
One correction: Friday’s newsletter incorrectly stated that three million votes were cast in Georgia. it was almost five million.
PS From The Onion: “The media condemns Biden for unsubstantiated claims that the nation will come together after the election.”