November 3, 2020

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Will the Media Chicken Out on Election Night?

Will the Media Chicken Out on Election Night?

The media do not fool themselves; they fool the public. Or try to.

Yesterday, I painted a very dark picture of what could evolve over the coming days. Trump wins big, but the networks and newspapers refuse to acknowledge his epic win. Antifa thugs lay siege to the White House. Officials vacillate about using massive force to quell the riot. Nancy Pelosi declares herself president and Joe Biden president-elect.

A friend texted me after reading the piece.

Ugh. That’s horrifying. I sure as f**k hope that’s not the path.

What could disrupt that scenario? Many things could, but the likeliest disruptor is media cowardice.

Exit Polls, Internals, and Crosstabs

Back in the election data rooms of the networks and newspapers live a bunch of data nerds. While the on-air people read “top line” results, these nerds look deeper into the data to help predict (or identify) when a state is out of reach to one or another candidate.

These in-depth data include things like:

  • Who’s actually voting? Young people? Veterans? People over 65?
  • How many reliable party loyalists are defecting this time?
  • How many votes are left to be counted, both Election Day and mail-in?
  • Where are the uncounted ballots? Are they concentrated in heavy Republican or Democrat areas?
  • How are late-deciders breaking?
  • How are their pre-election assumptions holding up?

The nerds will know pretty early whether the assumptions used to predict the outcome are holding up.

What We Know So Far

Things can change, of course, but some strong trends have already emerged from early voting:

  • Youth vote is down sharply (30 percent) from both 2018 and 2016.
  • Over 65 vote is up.
  • Black vote is down in Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina (and maybe other places).
  • Compared to 2016, massive Republican counties are over-performing, and heavy Democrat counties are underperforming.
  • Republican-leaning suburban precincts are over performing, while Democrat-leaning suburbs underperform

Again, this is all based on early voting. Things could change today, Election Day. But trends are clear: people most likely to vote for Trump seem more energized than people most likely to vote for Biden.

What the Anchors Will Know and When they Will Know It

In yesterday’s scenario, I said that at about 9:00 p.m. CST the networks would take on a somber tone. By that time, a significant amount of vote-counting will have occurred in both the Eastern and Central timezones.

If the early voting trends continue to hold, Trump’s epic win will be obvious. Even without “calling” states, the nerds will inform their on-air colleagues. The anchors will know.

My scenario also describes growing unrest from Antifa and other terrorist organizations. The anchors will know this, too.

Will the media see that any artificial attempts to hide the news of Trump’s victory could lead to an all-out civil war? Will they do a quick mental calculation and realize they, too, will suffer significantly if our civilization collapses?

I think that could be our saving grace, and that’s my prediction. If it becomes clear that Trump will win, the media will defect from the plan to create chaos. One news outlet will take the lead; others will follow.

How It Ends

Even if the media chicken out and declare Trump the winner on election night, or early Wednesday, the terrorists will still riot, of course. That’s what they’re paid to do. But the situation will calm down quickly.

Nancy Pelosi won’t claim the presidency. Washington DC policy will move on the demonstrators, as will the Army, if necessary. Governors will read the writing on the wall and crush insurgencies in their states.

At some point, even network news people want stability in their lives. While they might dream of a communist “utopia” in America, they will recognize there’s hell to pay for getting there.

The nation will be left a little bruised but with a renewed sense of certainty in the future: Donald Trump is re-elected for another four years of exceptional levels of peace and prosperity. Free, at last, from the clouds of fake Russian hoaxes and sham impeachments, the country can get back to making itself great again.

The factors that led to Trump’s re-election also carried the Republicans to control the House of Representatives and retain the Senate. The “endless” investigations end abruptly, and peace breaks out all over. Iran begs for normalizing relationships, and China backs off from its aggressive posturing. Russia is Russia.

And, of course, the National Institutes of Health and the CDC announce breakthrough treatments for Coronavirus. Lockdowns and restrictions are relaxed. Masks mandates, even suggestions, are rescinded as scientists explain that it’s now safe to let the virus “run its course” to quickly achieve herd immunity.

In the end, it’s Morning in America again.

Pray that it be so. Pray I don’t have to write a prediction of America under Biden.