The 2020 presidential election isn't over — not by a long shot. There are still votes to be counted, legal battles to be waged, and bullshit to sift through. And yet, despite having spent Tuesday evening doomscrolling, garment-rending, and generally freaking out at what appeared at first glance to be a repeat of 2016, the disinfecting sunlight of Wednesday morning has calmed my frazzled nerves to the point where I'm beginning to remember that, actually, things are more or less proceeding exactly as planned.
Okay, that's not entirely true — for weeks there were any number of breathless pundits forecasting a massive blue wave that would sweep the nation, changing the balance of power not only in the White House, but also in the Senate and across state legislatures as well. As I write this, that has, uh, not happened.
Still, consider where we are at this point: States that counted in-person Election Day votes first showed initial leads for President Trump. Those leads have slowly eroded — and in some cases flipped to Biden outright — as the early votes and mail-in ballots widely expected to favor Democrats are added to the totals. And wouldn't you know it, that's the so-called "blue shift" election experts predicted weeks ago.
That hopes of a potential Biden sweep of traditionally red states like Texas failed to materialize was also telegraphed by the Biden team itself, with campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon going out of her way to reject that particular strain of hyperbolic optimism.
The president's premature — and patently untrue — declaration of victory? Yeah, we knew that was coming too. Hell, Trump himself has spent the past year essentially giving away the game by threatening legal action, delegitimizing the voting process, and generally insisting that anything less than a total GOP blowout was simply not to be believed. Absolutely no one should be surprised then that he'd spend Tuesday night and Wednesday morning continuing these fantastical conspiracy theories and reality-detached election scenarios. If anything, it's one of the few promises on which he's actually delivered.
And, yes, Trump's successful courtship of conservative Cuban voters in the Miami-Dade County area was the sort of early election night shocker that scared the bejeezus out of people who still see Florida as the one and only path to the White House. (It's not.) But alarming as it was, and regardless of the serious problem it portends for Democrats moving forward, it wasn't exactly unforeseen. For months Democratic insiders have wrung their hands over the Biden camp's helter-skelter Latinx voter outreach — so much so that one even suggested that the Biden team doesn't see Latinx voters as "part of their path to victory" at all.
Look, as of Wednesday morning, the Biden campaign certainly doesn't have this race wrapped up. And the Trump campaign is doing everything it can to throw sand in the electoral gears. All this is alarming enough as it is. But let's not act like no one could have seen this coming. We might not know how this all ends, but nothing that's happened so far should be too much of a shock. With the benefit of hindsight, that's pretty clear.