The election ends tonight—we hope—and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, there’s a decent chance that if it had gone on a week longer, we all would have died. We don’t know how, but this thing was too long by about six months, and we are at the absolute end of our tethers. The fuel is gone. We are sputtering, coughing engines, no longer even running on fumes, staggering carcass-like over the finish line. This is our last hurrah—some predictions for the final night (God, please let it be the final night) of what has been a prolonged national nightmare. Let’s hope it ends with at least a speck of hope—although, as you’ll see, we’re not optimistic about Trump.
1. The 2016 nightmare election ends with a whimper, not a bang.
When Florida is called for Clinton before 10 p.m., the ending is inevitable. Clinton also squeaks out a narrow victory in North Carolina, while Trump turns Ohio and Iowa red. The remainder of the states go as they did in 2012. Shortly after midnight, a bordering on magnanimous Trump gives a measured, if somewhat incoherent, concession speech leading every media pundit to declare “If we had seen this candidate before tonight, the results might have been different.”
2. Trump shocks us with a normal concession
After losing by more than 150 electoral votes, Trump will surprise all, and disappoint many, by showing something resembling humility and striking a gracious posture as he congratulates Clinton. He gave us a preview at the close of the second Presidential Debate, when he praised HRC as a “fighter” who “doesn’t give up.” Trump never wanted to be president, after all, and he’ll be relieved once this disastrous, eighteen-month publicity stunt is in the rear-view mirror. Talking heads, pundits and “journalists” across the country will wax mawkish about, and quite possibly shed tears over, the metaphorical shards to which the “glass ceiling” has been reduced. Meanwhile, in the background, Zionists, neocons and humanitarian interveners will sharpen their knives.
3. CNN declares a winner of a state, then retracts.
With so many media outlets racing each other to the finish line, there are bound to be mistakes. Perhaps the most famous election night error was the declaration of Florida to Al Gore in 2000, a mistake made by ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC and the AP. We haven’t seen as egregious an error since, but in a Twitter-dominated world, it’s almost certain we’ll see a television channel under pressure to break headlines take an off-the-cuff prediction and run with it as truth. We’ve already seen polling fail spectacularly in this election cycle—see Bernie’s shock primary win in Michigan—and factoring in the collective anxiety and need to the first to declare a winner, it’s not hard to see Wolf Blitzer loosening his tie just a bit as he regretfully informs the viewers that his network is putting Florida back on the board.
4. Decency decides Utah, and the election.
Operating just under the radar enough to avoid the media ripping him to shreds (sorry Gary), Evan McMullin has gained a large amount of ground in his home state of Utah – usually thought of as a concrete Republican stronghold. Trump’s behavior has outraged liberal America, but also Mormon Utah, who seems reluctant to hand the state to a candidate trying desperately to bully his way to the presidency. But McMullin has a reputation of decency, and his hardline pro-life mantra is a major draw in the state. It will be just enough to snag the state away from Trump, and hand the presidency to Clinton. Even if Trump takes Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Nevada, he’ll need his bedrock states to pull the upset. Losing Utah and its six electoral votes will be the true death knell and make ‘decency’ the true decider of the election.
5. Trump concedes and also doesn’t.
After Trump loses, he will call Hillary to congratulate her on a hard-fought campaign. Then he will hang up and grab the nearest bullhorn to tell everyone within a billion-mile radius how tremendously gracious he was to make that call. Then he will take to Fox News and Twitter to insinuate a fix, saying a lot of people saw some funny, maybe potentially crooked stuff going on. He will congratulate without conceding, “respect the results” without admitting defeat. He will boast that he accomplished big league things with very little resources—unprecedented things, and he was barely even trying. He will paint himself as a millionaire martyr, tiny hands nailed to a giant gold cross—or is it a T? A lot of people are saying it’s a T.
6. Trump milks the clock.
I’m not saying he’s sure to lose, and I’m definitely not saying he’s sure to admit he lost, but even assuming he does, does anyone imagine Trump will be a gracious loser? It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he’d be bitter in defeat, so I’m going to toss in a more specific prediction: should he lose, even if he accepts the result, he will make Clinton wait an excruciatingly long time to give her victory speech. Traditionally, the victor waits until his (traditionally, it’s been a “he”) opponent has conceded to give his acceptance speech, and Clinton will likely at least try to observe this tradition. Trump probably knows that. I don’t think he’ll actually call for a revolt or a recount, as he’s hinted, but we already know he delights in keeping the media waiting. Once he gets to the podium, we’ve seen how long he can drag out a speech without actually arriving at his point. Plus, we know how difficult it is for him to face reality, and how deep his fear of losing runs. Take all that, add in the fact that it’ll be his last chance, at least as the Republican presidential nominee, to give the middle finger to Clinton and to American political tradition, and I’m predicting he will take his sweet time, regardless of when the race is called, to actually admit defeat.
7. Tammy Duckworth will deliver an awesome victory speech in Illinois.
I will admit something that we should definitely, freely admit: Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is an absolute badass. War hero, daughter of a multicultural family and soon-to-be-senator of Illinois deserves to take a spectacular victory lap after the campaign she ran against Mark Kirk. Kirk, best known for being anti-Trump early on, basically sealed his electoral fate after defaming Duckworth and her family’s lineage in the military. Of any of the Republicans running for re-election, Kirk was the last guy I would have thought to say something that dumb during this election cycle. So when the results come in and Tammy Duckworth gets to thank her supporters, I hope she does it ever so coolly and it bugs Mark Kirk even just a little.
8. A Trump pundit/surrogate will say something really stupid on national television.
It seems to happen every four years. A pundit does or says something really dumb during the heat of Election Night returns. Karl Rove had Megyn Kelly walk to the Fox News room of nerds tabulating the vote in 2012 after Mitt Romney lost Ohio, and who the hell knows what James Carville will say at any moment? This year, with such awful, awful, surrogate work on television, at least one network will have someone on their air say something that will live on far longer on YouTube than anywhere else. The odds on favorites for me Giuliani (It will be late, and well past his normal bedtime. He might get cranky, like get off my lawn cranky) or Sean Hannity (may we all revel in this like we did the night he got heckled in a Philly WaWa). Sheepishly, I am hoping for something wild and crazy from Dr. Ben Carson., the Charlie Kelly wild card of political surrogacy. He has already played his ‘Hillary is a Satanist’ card, though.
9. Trump wins North Carolina, but the fallout is huge.
He’s going to prevail because of much lower turnout from African Americans than in 2012, leading to further critiques of the hollowing out of provisions of the voting rights act. Currently, Trump holds a slim lead in polling in the state, according to the Real Clear Politics average. At the same time, the NC GOP has bragged that African-American early voting is down 8.5% while white early turnout was up by 22% from 2012. According to The Nation, “many GOP-controlled counties still limited early voting hours and locations, leading to four-hour lines in cities like Charlotte and a 16 percent decrease in black turnout compared to 2012. Black turnout decreased the most in the 17 counties that had only one polling site for the first week of early voting.”
10. Latino voters become a key demographic for the Clinton coalition.
Clinton will win Florida, with Latino turnout providing the key push. According to Politico, Clinton holds a razor-thin edge in Florida. Yet, according to Pew, “A record 11.2 million Latinos voted in the 2012 presidential election, but Latinos’ voter turnout rate continues to lag other groups significantly, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center. Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008.” This year though, a Democratic strategist Steve Schale, a “Florida expert, estimated that 170,000 more Hispanics had voted early or by mail as of Wednesday than had voted early or by mail in the entire 2012 election, according to a post on his blog,” according to Newsweek.
11. Clinton Comes Closer to Winning South Carolina than any Democrat Since 1980
While North Carolina has gained a reputation for being a battleground state recently, with Obama winning the state in 2008 and losing by a mere two points in 2012, its southern neighbor has a well-earned reputation for being a dark red state. Out of South Carolina’s nine seats in Congress, Jim Clyburn is the only Democrat, and Republicans outnumber Democrats 106 to 64 in the state’s General Assembly. South Carolina has become somewhat of a measuring stick as well for Republican Primary opponents looking to make a statement win early during the primary season, as it has become known as the “First In The South” for both parties. Which is why a SurveyMonkey poll conducted from October 30th-Nov 6th that shows Trump with only a 2 point lead (46%-44%) is so surprising. However, Clinton has a few things going for her: Lindsey Graham, the popular Republican Senator, has been one of the few prominent Republicans to openly oppose Trump from the beginning while never once wavering or posturing, South Carolina’s significant African-American population—around 28% as of the 2010 census—who will not be supporting Trump, and the larger than usual support for third party candidates, which may drag many consistent Republican voters away from Trump. While Clinton winning South Carolina is probably out of the question, the Republican margin of victory will surely be closer than anyone could have predicted a year ago. Since Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan here in 1980 by one point, no Democrat has come closer than 6 points, which Bill Clinton achieved versus Bob Dole in ‘96. Anything closer than that will surely be seen as a victory for South Carolina Democrats.
12. Clinton wins Alaska
Alaska is known for historically non-reputable polls. In fact, 538’s highest ranked poll is a B+, with nearly all others hovering in the B- to C- range. The highest ranked poll, a B+, has Trump +1. The next highest ranked poll, a B, has Trump +1 as well. These polls have Johnson at 7% and 11%, respectively. Furthermore, Alaska is actually ethnically diverse, with a large and recently-growing immigrant population – a population likely to lean towards Clinton. Economically, the state has outperformed the rest of the nation since the Great Recession. In fact, it largely skipped Alaska, as oil prices remained high, accounting for most of the state’s economic activity. Alaska, due to its focus on oil exports, rather than manufacturing, hasn’t felt the economic worry of much of the country. As a result, Trump’s economic message will likely fail to resonate. Finally, sexual assault—of which Trump has been accused—is a larger issue in Alaska than in other states. Alaska’s sexual abuse and rape rates are the highest in the nation. In fact, former Governor Sean Parnell, a Republican, lost his 2014 re-election bid partly due to his failure to effectively address the problem in the Alaskan national guard. Obviously, this does not bode well for Trump. I theorize that Alaska’s oft-unreliable polls will prove problematic once again, with ethnic voters and former Johnson supporters flocking to Clinton. Furthermore, Trump’s failure to present a legitimate economic position will allow Clinton to surprise the pundits, potentially securing the state by a slim margin.
13. We get the worst possible Trump in defeat.
Polls are predicting a super-tight race, but whatever happens tonight (or, if it’s that close, in the days or—Lord help us—weeks to come), it’s hard to see any scenario in which Trump graciously concedes defeat. So Clinton will win, narrowly, and the Trump camp will refuse to back down. He’ll reprise all his greatest hits: rigged system, voter fraud, corrupt media skewing the results to his detriment, all the stuff that preys on the fear and suspicion that he has helped to sow among his base. And while he rages and threatens legal action that the Republican National Committee won’t want to take, his conspiracy-minded minions like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone will be busy attempting to provoke the “Constitutional crisis” Trump has been warning about. This campaign has been ugly all along, but the endgame here will make Bush v. Gore seem like it was a genteel disagreement among honorable men instead of a mad scramble for power.
14. Trump will take Ohio and Iowa away from the Dems, while Hillary counters by taking Georgia and Arizona
An electoral shift was already underway before Trump kicked it in to hyper-drive. Josh Barro piggybacked off of Nate Cohn’s terrific analysis of North Carolina voters whose vote could largely be predicted by whether they were born in the state or not. Long story short: if you have lived in your hometown your entire life, you’re probably supporting Trump. America is growing rapidly in the northeast, southeast, southwest, and west while stagnating in the middle. North Carolina’s progression towards a light blue state is emblematic of the larger changes sweeping across the country. Ohio and Iowa will turn red, while Georgia and Arizona will follow the tar heel state. The record breaking early turnout from the communities Trump seeks to marginalize could very well be the GOP’s undoing.
15. Trump will not formally concede, and will give a speech encouraging his supporters to take the fight to his new media platform(s)
Trump TV is going to happen, but what form it will take is still a mystery. It may remain a Facebook Live-only operation for the foreseeable future. There have been reports that a new conservative network is searching for their army of blondes, and that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in law, is shopping a network on Wall St. Steve Bannon spends every moment of his existence focused on creating an environment where his twisted idea of a Republican party can thrive, so he would surely be part of this operation. Given Trump’s temperament and business history, it’s doubtful that it will be the behemoth his campaign has become. Running a TV network takes a ton of work, and Trump would prefer to just lease his name out to someone, then pay a courier to go to his P.O. Box to collect his checks.
16. A serious movement to nationally legalize marijuana will begin on election night
Proposition 64 will certainly pass in California, as polling has hovered around 57% in favor of it and Nancy Pelosi said she will vote yes. Polls show a 50-41 split in favor of legalizing the drug via Proposition 2 in Nevada. Question 1 will pass in Maine, and Question 4 will likely pass in Massachusetts, while Arizona’s measure to legalize it will squeak by. Marijuana will now be legal for recreational use in 14% of states comprising 23% of its GDP. The federal government classifying it as a schedule one narcotic (meaning weed is on the same level as meth or peyote) will become untenable, as the banks will pressure the government to let them take in these businesses that need a place to house America’s newest billion-dollar industry.
17. Clinton wins Texas, Georgia, more…
Clinton will win in a landslide. She’ll take Texas, Georgia, each swing state still in play, and Arizona and Missouri. A large Hispanic turnout will help Clinton solidify her victory in Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. Trump’s behavior and character will keep many evangelicals home, allowing Clinton to take Georgia and Missouri, as well as North Carolina and Ohio. This won’t even be close and the race will probably be called by nine p.m.
18. Democrats will control the federal government
The damage Trump has done to the Republican Party will become apparent by early Wednesday morning. Republicans will lose every close Senate race (with the possible exception of Rubio in Florida). The House will change hands as the Clinton wave translates into down-ticket Democratic victories. The House will remain close, but Democrats will have the edge. Expect a large number of state legislatures to change hands as well.
19. No third-party candidate reaches 5% of the National vote.
This election was historically unpopular. Third-party candidates enjoyed unprecedented national exposure and relatively high polling numbers that didn’t fade when third-party numbers have traditionally faded. Both parties were marked by bitter civil-wars, although the public disavowal (and shaming) was more significant on the Republican side. Major conservative publications dedicated entire issues to stopping the Republican nominee. The Libertarian party candidate earned more newspaper endorsements than the Republican nominee. And yet, little of this sturm und drang ends up translating to the polls. Jill Stein earns around 1%. Gary Johnson earns around 3.5%. Both of these numbers are historically high for their parties, but fall short of the 5% required to earn federal election funds in 2020.
20. Trump won’t give a concession speech, period
Trump began displaying his “sore loser” tendencies well before election day, going so far as claiming the whole voting process was rigged against him. There is little doubt that rhetoric will persist after the votes are tallied. So whereas the standard concession script includes congratulations for the victorious opponent, Trump will refuse to accept clear results and will instead claim there was a conspiracy against him. Worse yet, many people will believe that.
21. Nate Silver will get off scot-free.
Despite the fact that Silver and FiveThirtyEight have spent the past two weeks making bedwetters out of the liberal blogosphere, he’ll end up patting himself on the back tonight either way. His forecaster has been singularly bullish on Trump, with the Republican nominee’s chances of winning rising precipitously in the lead-up to election day, consistently between 20-30% higher than any other major predictions model. My guess is that Silver will end up spinning this into good press no matter what – Trump wins? “FiveThirtyEight were ‘more correct’ than everyone else.” Clinton takes it in a landslide? “Well, the model did have Clinton winning after all, and in this bizarre/volatile/unstable/erratic election cycle, the smart thing to do was clearly to hedge against the polling results and be cautious.” No matter what, Silver will find a way to make sure that his legacy – built on his strong 2008 and 2012 prognostications – isn’t tainted by this year’s irresponsible equivocation.
22. The Latino vote will cost Trump the election.
Long considered a “sleeping giant” for their hypothetical ability to influence an election by turning out en masse, all signs are pointing to record breaking numbers of Latinos voting this year across the country. Per Florida Democratic strategist Steven Schale—the early Hispanic vote in the Sunshine State in 2016 already exceeds 2012’s by a staggering 170,00 (and counting) ballots. In Nevada, the Trump campaign is—of course—already crying “rigged” after the state’s most populous county saw the Latino vote help Democrats surge to a 72,000-early vote lead, 1,000 votes ahead of where President Obama was in 2012 when he won the state by 7 points.
23. Trump may score an upset win in Michigan, but he’ll still lose.
Thanks to the myriad ills of Clinton’s run for the presidency and her historically low approval rating, Trump has made headway in places one wouldn’t expect the GOP to fare well this election cycle, such as Michigan. Democrats have held the traditionally liberal state since 1988, but many of the “Reagan Democrats” in the region find Trump’s disdain for international trade agreements appealing—and simply find Secretary Clinton incredibly unappealing. The Great Lakes State has long been a heavily sought after trophy for the GOP, one that would seemingly ensure victory. This year they may get it, but their joy will be tempered massively by the loss of the highest office in the land.
24. Everything will be bittersweet by night’s end
Anyone who expects a pure, #NeverTrump triumph tonight hasn’t been paying attention to this godawful election cycle. I think Hillary wins, but there’s no way this ends without some kind of sour taste in our mouths. My gut feeling is that the rotten cherry on top of the victory sundae will come in the Senate, where Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and end up just short of taking control. Also, get ready to be permanently nauseous when Trump does the only decent thing and concedes defeat, and the vapid talking heads on cable news praise him to the ends of the earth for not inciting revolt. But you know what? I’ll take these two outcomes, if it means it will finally, at long last, be fucking over.