Some updates from the November 8 election:
Michigan has just certified Donald Trump the winner: The final state to be awarded, and another rust belt victory for Donald Trump. Michigan Board of Canvassers just certified the results of the November 8 election in the state capital of Lansing this afternoon. Trump won 2,279,543 votes (47.6%), according to the certified results – 10,704 more than Hillary Clinton’s 2,268,839 (47.4%). Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Michigan since George H.W. Bush won it in 1988, breaking a six-cycle Democratic winning streak. Michigan’s 16 electoral votes will tally to the president-elect. Trump also easily flipped Iowa and Ohio – perennial battleground states that President Obama carried twice. Like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. there are indications that Jill Stein may contest the results in Michigan now that they’re official. Stein – who won only 1.1% in the Great Lakes State – is nevertheless entitled to lodge a challenge of the results because she was on the ballot there. Stein has hired former Michigan Dem Party chair Mark Brewer and has two days to request a formal recount, estimated to cost about $800,000. Stein has raised almost $7 million dollars she says are for legal challenges. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is participating in the recount efforts.
In Wisconsin, where Stein filed for recount Friday, election officials today set a timeline for recount, but rejected Stein’s request to require each county to conduct that recount by hand rather than by machine, leaving that decision to each of their 72. counties. Stein quickly announced she will sue to overturn that decision.
In Pennsylvania, which New Jersey Dems flooded with volunteer GOTV labor, the process to challenge results is very different. But it’s on. Today is PA’s recount deadline day. And about an hour ago, Stein’s lawyer, Lawrence Otter of Bucks County, filed a lawsuit in Harrisburg’s Commonwealth Court asking for a full recount of every county in the state, on behalf of at least 100 state voters who believe “that there is a legitimate and good faith basis to contest the Presidential Election in the Commonwealth.” That filing doesn’t automatically lead to recount; it only means a court will now consider it.
The process is cumbersome. Three voters in each voting district must petition the election result with an affidavit. Philadelphia alone has 1,600 voting districts, requiring almost 5,000 people to request recount; statewide about 30,000 people. Stein only got 49,000 votes in PA, though the publicity and the hopes ’n dreams of Clinton voters may enlarge the volunteer base to request recount. Stein has been recruiting for volunteers the massive effort for days on social media and today released a video explaining Pennsylvania’s rules.
Hillary Clinton has a popular vote lead now of more than 2 million people – very largely driven by results in two states: California and New York. It is extremely unlikely that any of the three recounts will alter election outcome. I’m all for verifying votes – I almost always think that’s worth the money and the effort. In this case, we can quickly push aside Trump’s efforts to equalize away both Clinton’s popular vote and the recount effort with his claims he’d have had more votes but for ‘millions who voted illegally’ (for which there is zero evidence).
So what are these recounts really about? In general, I back recounts when evidence suggests irregularities. But in my opinion, this is mostly about narrative – and about hanging onto power. Clinton Dems – and Hillary herself – are grasping for any development that rescues them/her from being yesterday’s bad news, an anachronism. In addition to a real, organic desire to make sure votes are counted. That’s particularly true because the narrative that she had nothing to say to the rust belt states is one that neoliberal Dems like Clinton have a hard time living with – *cough* We warned you *cough*. Michigan, PA & Wisconsin all fit.. Even the appearance of a reason to challenge that makes the 2016 Dem strategy look less like loserville. And with the coming battle for the soul of the Democratic Party and DNC chairmanship, the Clinton coalition very much wants to hang onto its power. And both the 2 million and any legit challenge to rust belt outcome feeds right into that (though I personally reject that argument, DNC needs a full cleansing). Stein – in addition to the same real, organic desire to make sure votes were properly recorded – raises her profile. She’s got a shot here, however fleeting, to be seen not as the gadfly she actually is, but rather as the valiant fighter for democracy on someone else’s behalf. She also gets to sit atop the very vigorous fundraising that powers the unicorn and rainbow hopes of Clinton supporters. Kind of a big thing for the Green Party, but not nearly as real-world useful as ditching the POTUS hopes for now and building their party locally and from the ground up.
Not that they listen to me. And so it goes.