If Democrats had nominated a candidate other than Joe Biden, President Trump might well have been reelected.
It’s impossible to know for sure, of course. But Biden won the states that narrowly decided the election – by two percentage points or less in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to the current vote count. And there is good reason to believe that other Democrats could have lost these states. Consider:
In Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, Democrats have nominated a Bernie Sanders candidate – Kara Eastman, who supports “Medicare for all” and has been endorsed by progressive groups like the Justice Democrats – for a seat in the Bedroom. She lost her run by nearly five percentage points, while Biden won the district by nearly seven points.
Why is this important? For the past four years, Trump has dominated American politics. At times he seemed to possess magical political powers, winning the presidency despite rejecting the usual rules of politics and maintaining a roughly stable approval rating even as he was deposed and presided over a terrible pandemic. .
Ultimately, however, Trump lacked magical powers. Rather, he became the fourth president-elect in the past century to lose reelection, after Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush. This is the good news for Democrats.
But there’s also a big dose of bad news for Democrats. Despite Trump’s defeat, the Republican Party has retained its popularity across much of the country. A small but crucial segment of Americans have chosen to vote for both Mr. Biden and the Republican candidates for Congress.
This combination means that neither party has an obvious path to follow. Democrats are almost certainly wrong if they conclude that America has turned into a left-wing country ready to get rid of private health insurance, dismantle the police, abolish immigration measures, and reject the Republicans because they fill the courts with anti-abortion judges. Many working-class voters – white, Hispanic, black and Asian American – disagree with progressive activists on many of these issues.
But the idea that Democrats should just move to the center on every issue also seems wrong. A sharp increase in the minimum wage passed in Florida last week with 61% of the vote. Several drug decriminalization measures have also been adopted. Extensions to Medicaid, a health insurance program aimed primarily at low-income people, have also passed into the Red States.
Republicans have a different set of issues. They have lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. They now appear to be heading into a messy fight over who will be their new national leaders – or whether Trump himself will continue to dominate the party.
For more: Congressional Democrats are vying for the party’s next steps, report Michael Shear and Maggie Astor of The Times. And Ross Douthat, a columnist for Opinion Editions, examines how Republicans can become a majority party after Trump.
THE LAST NEWS
Tropical Storm Eta made landfall yesterday in the central Florida Keys, bringing high winds and heavy rain.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in a case that seeks to do away with the Affordable Care Act. If the law is struck down, millions of people would lose their health insurance and people with pre-existing illnesses would find it difficult to purchase insurance.
Fighting continued between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the weekend in the disputed border region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan – wanting to reclaim the region controlled by Armenian forces and mostly populated by Armenians – said its military captured a key city, which Armenian officials have denied.
The media equation: Over the past four years, Maggie Haberman of The Times has been the source of much of what we know about Trump’s White House. The end of his presidency means the end of his mad race, writes Ben Smith.
Lives lived: Marguerite Littman, a louisian and literary muse with a honey voice, learned in Hollywood to speak of the south. But her most enduring legacy was her primary strength in the fight against AIDS. She died at the age of 90.
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ARTS AND IDEAS
A “Jeopardy!” icon
Alex Trebek started hosting “Jeopardy!” in 1984, sporting a thick mustache and a pale pink cover art on his first episode. He got the job in part because Lucille Ball, of “I Love Lucy” fame, had encouraged the show’s producer to hire him. It went on to host over 8,000 episodes, breaking Bob Barker’s record for “The Price is Right” for hosting the most episodes of a single game show.
On Sunday, Trebek died at age 80, more than a year after announcing he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His death led to a wave of tributes from fans who saw him as a presence. constant – and spiritual – in their homes.
In salons across the country, five nights a week, viewers could count on “an honest, no-frills knowledge test” guided by Trebek, as a 2002 Times article put it. “We’re comfortable, like an old pair of shoes, ”Trebek said. “We don’t come with a splash.” Before the pandemic, Trebek hosted five episodes a day, two days a week, from July to April. He was going through the 305 clues for that day’s shows at 7:30 a.m., taking notes. If a clue seemed too difficult, he would tell the writers to delete it.
Part of her appeal was her honesty, which extended to her battle with cancer. He has spoken about it publicly, saying his pain sometimes shot “from three to eleven” during recordings.
“With his cerebral allure and aura of silent and impartial authority, he embodies ideals that feel endangered: the pursuit of knowledge and the inherent value of facts,” Alexandra Alter wrote in a profile this year. And his honesty included flashes of restrained disappointment when contestants missed an easy question. His tone, he once told New York magazine, attempted to convey, “How can you not understand this? This is not rocket science.”
Yet, many candidates adored him. Some were moved to tears when they met him. In an episode that aired last week, one contestant – an Indian immigrant named Burt Thakur – said he learned to speak English by watching Trebek as a child, sitting in his grandfather’s lap.
The episodes of the Trebek-hosted show will air until December 25.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, LISTEN
What to cook
This gratin is a new way to use roasted cauliflower. Tomato sauce, sautéed red onions and goat cheese, it’s delicious.
Every year, millions of pilgrims descend on the central Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate the religious holiday of Arbaeen. Take a tour of last year’s festivities.
Friday’s spelling pangram was conditioning. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.
Here are today’s mini-crosswords and a hint: the browser window (three letters).
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. – David
One correction: Friday’s bulletin incorrectly stated that the number of votes cast in Georgia was three million; it was almost five million.
PS from The Onion: “The media condemn Biden for the baseless claim that the nation will come together after the elections are over.”