Following election night, results for national, state and local races remain largely uncertain. The election will likely be decided by a handful of states including Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. President Donald Trump initially led in many of these states, with former Vice President Joe Biden’s votes increasing as more mail-in and early votes were counted.
Officials were not able to report definitive results Tuesday night, with many states, including Michigan, requiring additional time to count mail-in ballots, especially in metropolitan areas like Detroit.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said clearer results in Michigan should arrive later in the day, with more than 100,000 mail-in ballots still being counted as of 11:30 am.
“We want to just respect the process, and make sure that they’re able to meticulously dot every I, cross every T, get it right and get it accurate prior to anything being published,” Benson said.
Kenneth Kollman, Frederick G. L. Huetwell professor of political science at the University of Michigan, discussed the possible election outcomes with The Daily on election night. He said Trump’s paths to victory are limited and it’s unclear how he will respond.
“A lot of it depends on what happens in some very key states,” Kollman said. “Biden has a lot of different ways (he) can win and Trump only has a few ways he could win. It’s very clear that (if) some of the key states that Trump needs to win don’t go his way, perhaps he’ll concede but there’s no way to predict. He’s an unpredictable guy.”
Biden gave a statement from Wilmington, Del., just after 12:40 a.m. Wednesday urging supporters to stay positive, saying he believes they are “on track to win the election” and to be patient in waiting for results.
Trump also spoke later last night, making unfounded accusations of voter fraud and falsely projecting a victory. Continuing into Wednesday morning, the president tweeted about his earlier leads in states, writing “they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted.” Twitter has flagged many of the president’s tweets as potentially misleading regarding civic processes.
There is widespread agreement among experts that there is no evidence of election tampering. Votes were counted after polls closed, as in previous years, and the increase in mail-in voting delayed results further. These mail-in votes were more likely to be for Biden in key swing states, explaining Biden’s growing lead late Wednesday morning and early in the afternoon.
LSA sophomore Nick Schuler, co-chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, emphasized the changes in the election as a result of COVID-19 and the system of elections in the United States, repeatedly thanking those working at the polls.
“Obviously COVID-19 made everything tough, we have a lot of mail-in ballots, everyone is new to this,” Schuler said. “I think that’s very important, because you look at elections in America and one of the beauties of our federalist system is that states can decide stuff for themselves and part of that is elections..”
In an interview at 10:30 p.m. on election night, Schuler explained why he thought Trump was doing well thus far and what would continue to be important going forward. He compared the turnout of Trump voters to the 2016 election.
“I think so far what we’re seeing is the silent majority in action,” Schuler said. “We are seeing those unpollable, in a way, Trump supporters are coming out and certainly overperforming expectations. It’s looking, fingers crossed, like Florida, North Carolina and Georgia (are) going to be in our camp this election, we worked hard..”
LSA sophomore Andrew Schaeffler, Students for Biden co-founder, discussed both candidates’ reactions and how the delayed counting of mail-in ballots could influence the election.
“I think that as long as everything holds within the next two hours, we’re going to get a statement from Donald Trump talking about how he’s won due to these incomplete results,” Schaeffler said. “I think that that’s dangerous for our democracy and our standing in the world. … But also, we’ve seen statements from Donald Trump’s campaign talking about how Democrats are going to illegally count votes after election day or … after 11:59pm, things like that. I guess I have no prediction what Biden will do.”
The race results of incumbent Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., race against Republican candidate John James was also unclear as of election night.
According to CNN, as of 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, James and Peters are tied with 49.1 percent of the vote each, with 96% of votes being reported.
In a 10:45 p.m. statement delivered by Peters to supporters and staff on election night and streamed on Facebook Live, Peters said results would likely not be available at least until the next day.
Schuler praised James and said he is optimistic James could win his election against Peters.
“(James is) a fantastic candidate,” Schuler said. “He is a veteran, he has private sector experience with them, which is something that people of Michigan really appreciate. He’s a complete foil to Gary Peters, who’s the same old, same old ‘promises-made, no promises-kept’ politician.”
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who was also running for reelection, released a statement Wednesday morning about the results. Her race was called in her favor.
“As of this moment, 89 percent of the vote is tallied up in MI-12,” the statement read. “Based on the votes reported and the votes coming in, several media outlets have reported that we have won. However, it is important to know this isn’t the case in many other districts and states. With races so close and votes still being counted, it is absolutely critical that we remain calm and patiently wait for the results to continue coming in.”
Dingell also emphasized the importance of politicians waiting to declare victory until all votes are counted.
“In America, political candidates don’t get to say if they win or lose — the voters get to decide,” the statement read. “And right now, we are waiting to hear what the voters decided across the country. Michigan’s voting process is being carried out exactly as we expected it to be. Millions of absentee ballots were returned correctly in our state and those votes must be counted. The election is not over until every voter’s ballot is counted.”
University President Mark Schlissel sent an email to the campus community Wednesday morning, urging students to wait for all votes to be counted and trust in the election process.
“Election Day has passed, but we do not yet know the results of the presidential race and many others on the ballot,” Schlissel wrote. “Please rest assured that there is a well-defined process in each state for completing the vote count and reporting official results. We need to let that play out and trust the integrity of that process to ensure that every vote is properly counted.”
Kollman discussed the effect the presidential campaign could have had on state races such as that of Peters and James. He said, though state and local races are always impacted by the president, in Trump’s case this is even more true.
“Any election that an incumbent president is running for reelection is in some ways a referendum on the presidency, the president and his performance,” Kollman said. “So in some ways, this isn’t any different. But the degree in which Donald Trump has come to personify the Republican party is unusual. … He’s a dominant figure within his party in ways that we don’t see very often in American history.”
How this impacts Regents candidates
This delay affects the other candidates as well, including those for the Senate and the University of Michigan Board of Regents. Kollman told The Daily even when presidential candidate results become clearer in the polls, other candidates could still be impacted by delays of their results due to counting mail-in ballots.
“The presidency might be well known by tomorrow, but there will be a lot of other important races, like races for the senate and certain house races, legislative races that will take a few days to sort out,” Kollman said.
Democratic Regent incumbents Shauna Ryder Diggs and Mark Bernstein are both running for reelection this year. Bernstein said all the ballots need to be counted properly, even if it does delay the results for the Board of Regents.
“It is essential that all candidates respect the integrity of the election process to ensure that every vote is counted before claiming victory,” Bernstein said. “It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.”
However, both Republican candidates running for the Board of Regents Carl Meyers and Sarah Hubbard believe Friday is too long for votes to be counted due to Michigan’s voting process historically. Hubbard said while presidential elections are not usually called until after Election Day, she expects to see the results for Board of Regents Wednesday.
“Personally, I’m not concerned,” Hubbard said on election night. “I don’t think it should take until Friday, but I hope we’ll do just about everything we need to know accurately tomorrow.”
Michigan currently provides the option of straight party ticket voting, where selecting one party will automatically mark its candidates on partisan offices down the ballot. Controversy surrounds the effectiveness of this policy towards both the Democratic and Republican party candidates.
Kollman also recognized the impact of straight ticket voting for the Board of Regents, saying Michigan being a swing state could impact the majority of candidates who are running within a political party.
“The straight ticket option helps the party in which there is a swing –– a national swing or a state level swing –– and at least going in, it looks like there will be a democratic swing this year,” Kollman said.
Meyers, who is in his third campaign for the Board of Regents, said his standing within Washtenaw County was not surprising due to the political climate.
Washtenaw County’s tally came in around 3 a.m Wednesday, reporting 34.48% and 34.45% of votes to Bernstein and Ryder Diggs, respectively, and 13.62% and 12.96% to Hubbard and Meyers, respectively.
“It’s not any great surprise (due to) the composition of the political demographics out there,” Meyers said.
Hubbard also commented on the election results, saying while she had a majority in other Michigan counties at the time of her interview, Hubbard is not surprised about her standing in Washtenaw County, but that of Ryder Diggs and Bernstein.
“I think what I’m more surprised about is that those two are that close to each other,” Hubbard said. “Given how much advertising Bernstein does in that area, you’d think Bernstein did have a significant advantage.”
As of 1:22 p.m. Wednesday, the Republican regent candidates are in the statewide lead compared to incumbents Bernstein and Ryder Diggs. Bernstein said while the statewide results are currently not in his favor, he anticipates the mail-in ballots votes to help him win his reelection.
“With regard to the returns in Washtenaw County, what that confirms is that voters who know us the best support us the most,” Bernstein said. “Statewide, there are millions of votes left to count. The votes that were early… either from early voting or absentee voting have really not been reported yet and we know that those ballots are proposed (to have) voters (who) favor democratic candidates.”
Schaeffler described his feelings as of 10:30 p.m. on election night, summing up the feelings of many as results remain unclear well into Wednesday afternoon.
“I guess we’ll just see what happens,” he said.
Daily Staff Reporter Julia Forest contributed to this reporting.
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