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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 11/9/20

Happy new week!

I hope everyone has recovered from the nuttiness of “election week.” I confess to being positively giddy. Fortunately, we now have a President-Elect and a Vice President-Elect.

Tomorrow we move into “Election Month.” I hope to pivot this week from the election back to other subjects of interest—you know, global warming, the economy, the future of mankind—but also lots of books, movies and other fun stuff. First, a few additional thoughts about what we've been through so far...


Recounts rarely offer material changes in the outcome. These ballots have been counted under the watchful eyes of observers from both parties. For Trump to overturn the count, he would have to succeed in three separate recounts, after the most transparent and thoroughly scrubbed of elections. The odds of that happening are meaningfully lower than drawing to an inside strait. I’m not worried.


Again, I’m not worried. I haven’t read them all word-for-word, but I’ve read the details of several. Most are frivolous, claiming generalized fraud, insufficient opportunity to view vote counting, or a random error.

But there are those like the “Freedom and Prosperity Fund” who are raring for a fight:

“I can’t sit back anymore and watch Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden steal the election. I’m helping a group of attorneys on the ground in Pennsylvania – but they need more support and they tell me we may still have some fights on our hands in Arizona, California, Georgia and Michigan.

My name is John Dennis, and I’ve exposed left-wing tactics to destroy our republic before, and I plan to do it again. We will go to any state, from sea to shining sea, where Biden and the Democrats are trying to steal the 2020 Election and demand our rights be enforced to have every legal vote counted—we will not accept anything less.

The media called states in favor of Biden before votes were counted;

We’ve had ballots appear for Democrats in the middle of the night;

Republican ballot observers have been blocked from watching the counts;

Machines in tabulation centers have been moved away from eyesight;

Despite a valid court order, the Trump campaign team was blocked from observing the vote tabulation in Pennsylvania.

They are counting on us to back down and let them steal this election. They want us to be scared by their protesting goons…”

The rhetoric is astounding but, more interesting, the claims don't amount to much. Ballots always appear in the middle of the night (after all, they're picked up from polling places that typically close at 8:00 p.m.). Republican ballot observers haven’t been blocked and as for observation in Pennsylvania, the Republicans received their remedy. In most of these suits, there is no remedy available, other than tossing out as yet unidentified “fraudulent” ballots. Honestly, it’s weird and disturbing that this is going on…

I can’t believe I’d say this, but “God Bless Chris Christie,” who said:

“There is no evidence yet. If there’s evidence, we need to see it. If there isn’t we need to stop indicting the system.”

And, again, kudos to Mitt Romney, whom I believe was the first GOP to congratulate the President-elect, followed shortly thereafter by former President Bush.


There is one suit that is troubling and its effect has little to do with the election, because it won't be enough for Trump to win the state. The resolution of this case could, however, have far-reaching impact on how States and the federal government make and enable law.

Basically, the claim is that the extension of the date by which

ballots postmarked by election day can be received, while certainly reasonable in these COVID days, could not be granted by election authorities or the courts and could only have been directed by the legislature.

The Constitution grants legislatures the power to determine election laws for federal office. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court permitted the three day extension. The argument is that the Supreme Court’s decision was unconstitutional, since the Constitution delegates the right to make these laws to the legislature and not the courts or regulators/state election officials.

The ramifications are significant because, if held to their logical extreme, only legislators can adopt legislation, and legislation cannot be “modified” by anyone other than the legislature. If applied to federal law, the consequences could be significant, as every regulatory regimen might well be “unconstitutional” under this reading. In that event, I suspect everything would have to go back to Congress and Mitch McConnell (and the Speaker and their successors), who would determine what regulations could be adopted and which could not. Oh boy…


I grow weary of the “they’re stealing this election” mantra from rabid Trump supporters. Go on Fox News or on the Twitter feeds or Facebook posts of some of your Trump-ian friends. The cacophony is deafening. And completely lacking in truth. Film clips of ballots being burned, circulated broadly, have been debunked. Clips of folks “showing” that a dead person voted have been debunked. That Republicans have been denied access to counting by election officials has been debunked (check out the Supreme Leader’s statements in this regard about no one has in any way witnessed the counting). A significant segment of the American public lives in a bubble separated from the statements of public officials, legitimate journalism, and the statements of scientists, lawyers, and other experts. They establish their opinions based upon what the President says and what dubious “news” sources tell them on Twitter and Facebook.

This has been the most transparent of elections. There are observers permitted in all rooms where ballots are counted. There are cameras in many of these rooms. The election workers are dedicated and hard-working. Many of the election workers are Republicans. The Georgia Secretary of State, who assures us that the counting is fair, is a Republican. These people are working overtime. While John King and I have been up all night parsing each and every shred of data, these people actually have been up all night working…

I’m not sure you had the chance to listen to the press conference of the Georgia Secretary of State (a Republican) and election officials on Friday. If you had, you would have heard officials of a right-leaning state assuring people that they will do their job diligently, carefully and transparently. It was heartwarming to be reminded that there are people who are willing to look beyond politics and take their jobs and their responsibilities to their State's citizens and the rest of the country so seriously. An added amusing note was the election official reminding the “Yankee” press that DeKalb Country is not pronounced “Dee-Kalb” or “De-Kalb,” but, rather, De-cobb (and pointing out that Georgians pronounce “Houston” the same as their Yankee brethren, as “house-ton”).


Making the rounds on Facebook is the idea that the election “must have been fixed” because in perfectly conservative precincts and states, votes for Republican Congressional representatives showed a vote for Biden. How could this be so? “This is proof that they stole the election from us…”

Really? Think about it.

  • We have a long history of ticket-splitting.

  • The discomfort of conservative voters voting against a republican president might actually result in their unwillingness to go “all the way” to oust their Senator.

  • Many people believe in divided government and consciously seek out this result.

  • Incumbents hold considerable power.

  • Finally, as the adage goes, “everyone hates Congress; but everybody loves their Congressperson.”

  • The fact that otherwise Republican ballots had Biden at the top of the tickets should come as a surprise to no one. And if there was a nation-wide conspiracy to steal the election for Biden, don't we think such an extraordinarily quiet, wide-reaching cabal would also have assured the Democrats would capture the Senate?


This dreaded pandemic, which the President assured us would go away right after the election because it was a rallying cause for the left, is back with a vengeance, with 108,000 new cases on election day and continuing this sharply higher trend of infections and a similar rise in the rate of deaths. We’re on track for a deadly winter and hitting 300,000 dead by the end of the year. This isn’t going away easily and hard choices will need to be made.

Then there’s saving the climate…

Stay safe. Mask up. Stay safely distant.

Wishing all of you, and our country, some measure of peace and calm in the coming days,


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