The 2020 election was an existential threat to democracy. The damage that Trump did to our system of government (in addition to the half a million American lost lives that he is responsible for) is but a preface to the harm he would have done with an additional four years with all the people willing to say no to him out of the administration.
Then there were the endless challenges as well as the bare faced attempt to set aside the results for purely partisan reasons. And then there was the attempt to disrupt the certification of the results by violent insurgents egged on by Donald Trump himself.
So it’s understandable but not acceptable that in the midst of claims of irregular results it’s not being discussed every night on TV that the Republicans, in an abysmal year for the Republican brand, won 27 out of 27 elections that were considered too close to call. That is an insane result. While the probability of a toss up election is not as clear cut as a coin toss, to be off on every single one in twenty seven instances is an insane anomaly, the Mount Everest of outliers. This prediction by the Cook report, couldn’t be more wrong, literally.
Wikipedia has a section on election ratings from 2008 to 2020 so we can see how the Cook report, which called those 27 elections as toss ups, performed over that time. If the toss up rating was accurate we would expect results to mostly fall within 50 to 60 percent. And while that’s not exactly what we see, nothing is remotely close to the 100 percent showing in 2020. All of the races from 2008 to 2018 fall within 60 to 73 percent for one side of the other.
There are outliers. In 2010 the result of the ‘toss up’ elections in the House were 64 percent for Republicans. Now, if we get in the way back machine that was a very strong year for the Republican brand. The Tea Party was a nationwide movement, somehow the anger felt at the collapse and bail out at Wall Street turning into a pro Republican message. Yeah still makes no sense to me ten years later, but the Obama backlash was real and so an outlier makes sense. And 64 percent is not too far outside the 50 to 60 percent range we would expect.
Another outlier, the 2008 House of Representatives election, 73 percent of the ‘toss up’ elections went to Democrats. This outlier also has an explanation. Obama had energized the Dems and there was record turnout and strong coat tails. Wikipedia doesn’t have a separate article for ratings of the election that year, but does have a section with the Cook projections compared to the actual results.
In 2016 when the Republicans won the presidency under Donald Trump there the Rs took 72 percent of ‘toss up’ elections. R’s took 13 out of 18 elections in the House labeled by the Cook report while Dems took 5. This is one of the smallest number of ‘toss up’ elections on the list. In 2014 Rs took 62 percent of the 21 ‘toss up’ elections as described by the Cook report.
In 2018 there was another outlier performance, this time the Dems took 73 percent (with one race being voided in North Carolina because of the felonious conduct of a North Carolina GOP operative.) Another year of record turnout and a blue wave of enthusiasm.
In 2012 another presidential year that went to Obama and the Democratic party they took 68 percent of the ‘toss up’ elections in the House. 19 out of 28 elections so categorized by the Cook report.
So while there have been outliers before they had explanatory power. So how on earth in a year the GOP had become synonymous with misfeasance and malfeasance in their response to the Covid pandemic, did they win 100 percent of the House elections that were too close to call? This beggars the imagination. Jonathan Simon, when I interviewed him in December, expressed the idea that this was the result of targeted voter suppression.
So if there were outliers in 2008, 2010 and 2018 why am I so passionate about the 2020 election and what the 100 percent of toss up elections going to Republicans? First because, to use a coin toss as a metaphor for a toss up election, the likelihood of 75 percent of 27 coin tosses going in one direction compared to 100 percent is astronomical, from roughly a one out of a hundred chance, to one in a hundred million. That is why I title my first article on this topic, “One in a Hundred Million chance. If I was wagering with someone and they won 100 percent of our bets on a coin toss, I’d give that coin a very close examination.
Now you can say the 2020 election was given a very thorough examination. And it was…at the presidential level. It was not examined by recounts at the House of Representatives level. And while there is no direct evidence of tampering with the election, many races use insecure electronic voting machines which are demonstrably capable of being hacked by domestic and foreign actors. And as I mentioned, Jonathan Simon, election integrity expert believes voter suppression is a significant factor in this poll defying outcome. And the best evidence of this, is the GOP’s answer to losing control of the Senate and the Presidency in 2020 is an intense ramp up of…you guessed it, voter suppression. To the extent that even Coca Cola and Major league baseball want no part of it.