Democrats are not in disarray

Millions of Democrats across America went to bed in despair on Tuesday night. Florida was an early call for Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE because of devastating Republican gains in heavily Cuban Miami-Dade County. Although preelection polls suggested competitive races in Iowa and Ohio, both fell to Trump by surprisingly large margins. And the infamous "blue wall" states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania looked bleak as Trump initially took commanding leads in all three.

Because of state laws, election officials in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were not able to open mail ballots until Election Day, while election officials in Michigan were unable to open mail ballots until the day before Election Day. Because of these rules, election workers in all three states were initially unable to count many mail ballots. At the same time, it was much easier for them to quickly count and report Election Day votes. Since Republican voters were more likely to vote in person than Democratic voters, who often preferred to vote by mail, initial vote counts were deceptively strong for Trump.

But as the counting progressed, the tide began to shift.


As election workers processed and counted mail ballots across the Upper Midwest, Joe BidenJoe BidenMissouri woman seen with Pelosi sign charged in connection with Capitol riots Facebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP MORE started to come back. Wisconsin was the first to flip, as mail ballots from Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Green Bay closed the gap. Michigan was next, as mail ballots from Detroit and its surrounding suburbs were counted. And Biden pushed ahead in Pennsylvania as mail ballots from Philadelphia, the collar counties and even rural counties came in.

As of Friday morning, Biden was the commanding favorite to win the election once all the votes are counted. Wisconsin and Michigan have already been called for him, and he has also taken the lead in Pennsylvania. Decision Desk HQ has already called Pennsylvania and the entire election for Biden, and other networks will probably do so soon as well. Biden has also taken the lead in Georgia and is ahead in Arizona and Nevada.

What a difference 72 hours made. On Tuesday night, Democrats were furious and depressed about a country that wasn’t what they thought it was. Why did Latino voters shift so strongly in favor of Trump despite his immigration rhetoric? Why did white working-class voters continue to march to the right in the midst of a deadly pandemic and a struggling economy? How was Trump on the verge of victory after everything the country had been through?

While Democrats should certainly reflect on ways to improve outreach to demographic groups they struggled with, there is still a lot for them to be happy about.

At this point, Biden is on track to defeat Trump 306-232 in the Electoral College. Democrats would view this as a moment of poetic justice since it would be an exact mirror of Trump’s 306-232 Electoral College victory in 2016 (ignoring faithless electors).


Biden is also on track to win the popular vote by 4 to 5 points once all the votes are counted, according to election analysts. Although Biden currently leads in the popular vote by 3 points, millions of mail ballots remain to be counted from California, New York and elsewhere. Although a 4- to 5-point margin would not be as strong as preelection polls suggested, it would still be a solid victory. In fact, it would be a bigger popular vote victory than that of four of the past five presidential winners (the exception being Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFor Joe Biden, an experienced foreign policy team 'Nationalize' Facebook and Twitter as public goods Millennials and the great reckoning on race MORE’s 7.3-point victory in 2008).

Biden is also on track for historic victories in two traditionally Republican states. He is poised to become the first Democrat to win Georgia since 1992 and the first Democrat to win Arizona since 1996.

Democrats also have a chance of winning unified — if narrow — control of government, with potential control of the Senate as well as the presidency and House of Representatives. Control of the Senate is likely to come down to two runoff elections in Georgia in January. While Democrats face potential challenges in these races — such as uncertainty about turnout and the suburban vote — they have a fighting shot at winning both of them in what is now a roughly 50-50 state.

Political parties should always reflect on ways to expand their appeal more broadly. But if you’re a Democrat, there is much to be happy with in this year’s outcome.

Democrats are not in disarray.

Ryan Matsumoto is a politics and elections analyst for Inside Elections, which provides nonpartisan analysis of campaigns for Senate, House, governor and president. His articles have been published at FiveThirtyEight and NBC News, and he has been cited by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, New York Magazine and more. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmatsumoto1.