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Crane

As a political analyst and columnist, I try to provide an informed opinion, based on known and generally agreed facts. We will not likely know the winner of the White House and multiple other contests, the night of Tuesday, Nov. 3, or even the morning after. The networks and other news outlets may forecast or project winners, based on actual returns tabulated at that point as well as Exit Polling projections, but there are several major flaws with that strategy.

Exit polling data has been horribly off the past two Presidential election cycles, AND in most states where multiple forms of voting exist, an interesting trend has developed, which is also playing out in Georgia. Biden voters and Democrats are choosing to vote early, by absentee and dropbox, U.S. mail, or early voting (65 percent of Democratic self-identified voters). The reverse is true for supporters of the President, with only 35 percent planning to vote ahead of Election Day. In addition, multiple states will be allowing the tabulation of mail-in ballots which arrive as late as  seven days after Election Day. In many close contests, those late ballots may decide many a contest, as well as the awarding of the Electoral College ballots of that state.

As of Sunday, Oct. 25, nearly 58 million American ballots have already been cast, exceeding the total of the early vote in 2016, with a week of early voting still to go (2.7 million of those in Georgia already cast).

In Georgia, the Democratic Party won early voting and absentee voting in 2018 and the 2020 General Primary by a wide margin. As counties can start opening and scanning early and absentee ballots as early as Oct. 22, and with tabulation of those ballots allowed to begin ON ELECTION DAY, it is likely that Democratic candidates and party nominees will hold an early and quite substantial lead in tabulations. Registration, absentee ballots, and early voting are all setting records. No excuse absentee ballots received as of Friday, Oct. 23 in Georgia were up by 650 percent over the prior Presidential election.

And there is one thing which I do know, with absolute certainty. Whoever wins the White House, controls the majority in Congress, knocks one party out of or retains power in the U.S. Senate, etc... the United State of America and our Republic will survive. We have allowed, or in some ways encouraged the two leading national parties to not only go to their corners but to build out their bases and turnout models appealing primarily to the extremes on either side.

However, as a nation, we have experienced much worse. As a country of less than 30 million, we lost more than 600,000 young men to the throes of a Civil War. Less than 50 years after that devastation, the Spanish flu of 1917-1918 took another 675,000 American lives. The economic devastation of the Great Depression brought record levels of unemployment and poverty, with most households having only one income, and 1 out of every 4 Americans then unemployed. And yet again, America survived and later thrived. Yes, these feelings of division are real, fueled in part by social media and political advertising and messaging aimed as much at turning OFF certain voters as turning out others.

There is of course a price to be paid for all the other benefits of free speech. But consider during the days of the uncertainty of outcome which may follow, near-certain of some resolution by the time the Electoral College convenes by federal law on Dec. 12 (to finalize and certify the winner of this election), using some of that time to heal wounds within your own circle and family.

As the election hysteria wanes, it will be replaced by the coming holiday season. COVID-19 is resurgent in Europe now, and it is likely that will also occur here in the not too distant future. Pick up the phone, start a long holiday email, or even post on any of your several channels of social media, that you and this nation are about much more than the outcome of any one election. Healing wounds or closing great divides require those on either side to move towards the middle, to re-build consensus, focus on commonalities, and perhaps again seek out leaders who appeal to the best in us, versus the base in us. We get the leaders we choose, and some say deserve. Let's all agree that we can all work to deserve better.

Bill Crane is a syndicated columnist based in Decatur. He has worked in politics for Democrats and Republicans, respects the process and will try and give you some things to think about. Your thoughts and responses to his opinions are also welcome, bill.csicrane@gmail.com.

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