As the gap tightens, students and professors reflect on first three days of the election

As of Thursday night, Joe Biden is nearing victory in one of the most hotly contested elections in history. If Biden is able to claim several key swing states, such as Georgia and Pennsylvania, this would give him the necessary 270 electoral votes to become president. 

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is looking to sweep the board and potentially flip states such as Wisconsin in his favor through the use of a recount. Both candidates believe they are going to win but skepticism remains that Trump can pull off a victory.

“I probably feel most confident about those two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Again, he only needs one to get over 270,” Sam Jeske ’21, president of the College Democrats, said on Wednesday. “I think we’ll probably get both. I think we’ll probably get Nevada as well. And then I think Georgia is going to be gonna be super, super close. It could go either way.”

The College Republicans declined to comment.

With COVID-19 raging across the country, the election results have not come as quickly as in years past. The early vote surpassed a hundred million votes, with a large portion of those coming from mail-in ballots. Several states, such as Pennsylvania, have laws in place that prevent opening mail-in ballots until election day, causing major delays and a multi-day election period. With those laws in place, Pennsylvania was far behind other states in counting mail-in ballots, which tend to favor Democrats.

These mail-in ballots have been a source of controversy, as Trump has tried to stop counting them early in several important states. Trump claimed that many of these ballots are fraudulent and costing him the election. 

“So far, we don’t have any evidence of that,” John Kincaid, Government and Law professor, said.

Jeske believes that fraud “is a really low probability event. It doesn’t really happen. This is kind of just their way of trying to find something to blame when they end up losing.”

In states like Wisconsin, Biden was projected to win fairly easily with over an eight-point lead on the day before the election. It ended up at 0.6 percent in favor of Biden. States like Texas were expected to be competitive and Trump won the state by almost six points. This is the second election in a row that polls have underestimated Trump’s support, leading to a clear mistrust of the polls among the population.

One popular theory on why the polls underestimate Trump’s support is called the Shy Trump Voter theory, Kincaid explained. It says that Trump supporters hide their support, especially to pollsters because they believe supporting Trump is not socially desirable. The theory is not proven and has conflicting views among the public.

Kincaid said that there are some ‘shy Trump voters’ and it does play a role in the incorrectness of the polls. Jeske is more skeptical, saying he does not know if it’s the ‘shy Trump voter.’

“I’ll definitely be interested in seeing what those [experts] have to say over the next couple of days and weeks,” Jeske said. 

Coming into election night, Democrats hoped to pick up a majority in the Senate and add more seats in the House of Representatives. As of Thursday night, neither is likely to happen as Democrats are currently down six seats in the house and only have 48 seats in the Senate, compared to the 48 Republican seats. Alaska, North Carolina and two Georgia seats are up for grabs, and Republicans are favored in all four.

It is increasingly unlikely that Democrats can capture the Senate, given that Alaska and North Carolina are expected to stay Republican, but Jeske is hoping for Democrats to tie in the Senate, which would be enough for a majority if Biden wins, as the vice president is the tie-breaking vote.

“Even if we don’t win any of the other outstanding races–like North Carolina for instance–I think both of the ones in Georgia will probably go to a runoff. Meaning that we’ll have another shot at that in January,” Jeske explained.

In the case of a runoff election, which occurs when neither candidate reaches 50 percent, the state holds another election with the top two vote-getters. With one Georgia seat already expected to go to a runoff, the other is extremely close, with the Republican candidate, David Perdue, hovering right below 50 percent. If that were to remain the same, Democrats would get another chance to get a majority in the Senate.

“I think the most important thing that almost all democrats would agree upon was getting Donald Trump out of the White House and I feel confident that we’ve done that. Joe Biden looks like he’s on a path to victory,” Jeske said. “Obviously, I would have liked to expand our lead in the house, I would have liked to retake the Senate with a convincing margin. Those things didn’t happen. It’s disappointing.”