Politically Speaking: Is A ‘Red Mirage’ Likely?

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Chase Wing, Editor in Chief

   For many years it has been a great American tradition to stay up late and watch election results roll in across the country state by state deep into the night. This tradition may be broken this year. 

   A top Democratic data firm, Hawkfish, associated with billionaire and former Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg, believes that come election night it may appear that President Trump has again defied all odds and won in a massive landslide, but that this victory may be nothing more than a mere mirage. 

   This is because of the massive hike in mail-in voting, which takes longer to count than in person ballots. Hawkfish refers to this potential phenomenon as the ‘red mirage.’

   “We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump,” Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn reported to the independent American news site, Axios. “When every legitimate vote is tallied and we get to that final day, which will be some day after Election Day, it will in fact show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage.”

   Polling indicates that this prediction may actually have more truth to it than appears. According to the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape project, more than one third of Americans are planning to vote by mail this coming November. Of them, 48 percent say they are backing Biden, more than double the amount who say they are voting for Trump, 23 percent. 

   Because of the nature of mail in ballots, it will take longer in some states to count the unusually high amount of ballots that have been mailed in. As a result, the initial numbers are likely to be lopsided towards the President. 

   According to one of Hawkfish’s models, it could appear President Trump has won with an impressive 408 electoral votes as election night coverage begins to wrap up, compared to Democratic Nominee Joe Biden’s measly 130 electoral votes. Under this scenario, President Trump would appear to have carried the solid blue states of Hawaii, Oregon, New Jersey, Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and even Biden’s home state, Delaware, not to mention the swing states.

     If the ‘red mirage,’ or ‘blue shift,’ as it has sometimes been referred, comes true on election night it would be a disaster for the country. It would seem as if Trump won a massive victory all around the country, only for that victory to be diminished in the following days and potentially resulting in a Biden victory. 

   Hearing this, one can’t help but recall images of protests and unrest following the 2000 Presidential Election between then Gov. George W. Bush and Vice-President Al Gore. The uncertainty of the state of Florida caused multiple recount efforts and electoral drama never before seen within the country.  

   With President Trump’s rhetoric about fraudulent ballots, his supporters are not likely to take it lightly when it appears he has defied all odds and won yet again in a landslide, only for it to turn into a Biden victory in the coming days. Trump has sewn the seeds of distrust in election results among his supporters, and they might not be convinced of the legitimacy surrounding the results once it appears that Trump’s massive victory has now shrunk into a devastating loss. 

     This has been a concern surrounding mail in ballots for quite some time, and materialized just a few years ago. During the 2018 midterm elections, it appeared as if incumbent Martha McSally was narrowly ahead of Democratic challenger, Kyrsten Sinema. However, once all absentee and mail in ballots were counted, McSally’s lead shrank to a two point loss to Sinema. It is worth noting that most McSally supporters accepted the results, perhaps hinting that the 2020 election will go smoothly.

   In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump was leading in the national popular vote at the time of his victory speech. Once all of the ballots had been counted in the weeks following election night, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton pulled ahead by over two percent and thus, Trump voters felt they had been cheated out of a victory in the popular vote. 

    Many states on the west coast already use primarily mail in ballots and have been for years, and critical swing states such as Arizona and Florida are known for counting ballots relatively quickly, suggesting that we may even know results out of these states by the end of the night. Even so, Democratic groups warn that a ‘red mirage,’ as they call it, or a ‘blue shift,’ as it is also known, could lead to a national crisis if the President refuses to accept the results and claims the mail in ballots to be fraudulent. 

   In respect to the 2000 election night results, media networks should make it known that many of the results reported that night will only be partial, otherwise they risk making the same mistake they made by calling Florida early for Gore all those years ago.