Breaking: On Wednesday night South African time, CNN projected Wisconsin for Joe Biden. Coupled with near-certain victory in Arizona, and likely victories in Nevada and Michigan, Biden looks all but certain to become the 46th president of the United States.
While counting goes on behind the scenes at what can only be a frantic pace – to get all mail-in ballots counted and finalise exactly who won the 2020 presidential election – the US is a nation in waiting.
There has been a massive outcry around Donald Trump telling the US public, and the world, that he had won. As the race tightened and the night dragged on, with vote tallies getting closer and the lead candidate switching back and forth between blue and red, a smiling Joe Biden told supporters: “We feel good about where we are.”
Biden reminded people that it had always been clear going into 3 November, because of the large numbers of early voters and absentee mail-in ballots, that it was going to take a while for all the votes to be counted. “We’re going to have to be patient… and it ain’t over till every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”
A dour-looking Trump, speaking from the East Room of the White House, said: “Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight and a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we will not stand for it. This is a fraud on the American country, we were getting ready to win this election – frankly, we did win this election.”
While some media and political pundits lambasted Trump for “declaring victory”, Dr Rusty Brooks of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government said, “It was not a premature declaration… it was a clear ‘strategy’ to continue to sow distrust and discord among his supporters about the legitimacy of the vote.”
Brooks told Daily Maverick: “He will not go silently into the night… he and his legal team will contest this to the bitter end. That is what generates the potential for violence… him NOT accepting the outcome.”
First-time voter Emma DeLaRosa, an 18-year-old Hispanic, voted for Biden. She says she is still watching the results via multiple sources on her computer and phone.
“It’s good to see that Biden has the lead right now but it is quite concerning to see the reactions that Trump has had – like last night when he tried to claim a false victory and how he’s disregarding the mail-in vote; it’s just kind of concerning to watch ’cause you don’t know what he can do or what he can say.”
DeLaRosa adds that she and her friends are worried about what could happen.
“A few of my friends have talked about how this could lead to violence and it’s really scary to see – living here in Boston [Massachusetts] you can see that they are starting to board up stores in preparation for violence and it’s just really scary to see, it’s a very eerie and dystopian feeling.”
Avid Trump supporter and Mensa member Mike Parker was born, raised and still lives in Florida. A retired news professional and US army veteran, he is watching the results closely. Early on Wednesday November 4 he told Daily Maverick that while watching the results come in and seeing Biden take the lead, he “was going into a depression until we got control of the Senate”.
How does he feel about Trump saying that he had won before all the votes had been counted?
“Some of the mainstream media are having their hair on fire for him saying that, but I have no issue with that whatsoever – I mean, this is literally a battle for the soul of our country.”
Parker says he lied to pollsters. “I told them I was a staunch Biden supporter… and I guess a lot of other folks did the same thing.”
He adds that Trump supporters “basically just do not trust pollsters… I’ve taken two polls, one during the primary and… a few weeks ago”.
Parker says the reason for lying to the pollsters means that, “by the population at large believing that Biden had a significant lead, there would be less urgency for them to go out and vote. So, it was an indirect attempt at voter suppression you might say.”
Brooks, who has worked with governments around the world, said: “No one has won yet” and that Trump is planning “a protracted legal fight that aims to delegitimise all the institutions on which the government is based”.
It may not be clear yet who has won, but according to Parker, there is one upside: “I am just happy that it is over to the extent that it is over – at least I will stop getting the texts and robocalls – the fundraising appeals.” DM
An Wentzel is Night Editor, specialist reporter for Daily Maverick. She went to the USA to visit family as the pandemic struck and is currently marooned in the land of the ‘free’.