Politics with Amy Walter: The Next President of the United States

Not immediately knowing which candidate won the White House has long been a reality of a world changed by COVID-19. What campaigns, pundits, and pollsters failed to predict was the distance that would separate the results from the expectations. Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent at Politico, Sahil Kapur, national political reporter for NBC News, and Clare Malone, senior politics writer at FiveThirtyEight, analyze the incomplete election results and what Congress could look like when the dust settles. 

President Trump has consistently and falsely asserted that losing reelection would mean that the White House was stolen from him. Meanwhile, election officials across the country have been working diligently to maintain free and fair elections. This year, their jobs include responding to a pandemic and refuting conspiracy theories. Election officials from across the country describe how Election Day 2020 went and how things could improve for future elections. 

As Joe Biden gets closer to winning the electoral college, the Trump campaign is taking to the courts in an attempt to challenge the results. In the past few days, states like Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have all seen lawsuits calling into question their process of counting ballots, though there’s no evidence supporting the president’s claims of voter fraud. While some of the lawsuits have already been dismissed, others are still in play. Toluse Olorunnipa, a White House reporter for the Washington Post, breaks down the Trump campaign’s recent legal action.

In the Trump era, political polarization has reached a level not seen since the Civil War. Though this polarization didn't start with President Trump's campaign and subsequent administration, it has brought the deepening divide to the surface--and to the ballot box--with voter turnout this week reaching record numbers. Lilliana Mason, professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland and author of "Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity,"walks us through the widening political divide in the U.S. and what it means for how the country moves forward, regardless of who wins the 2020 election.

Amy's closing thoughts:

"The political profession. No other career as prosaic has been glamorized more. In movies and on TV, everyone who works for or as a politician is beautiful, smart, and ambitious. All are doing super important work that is changing the world. Even the interns are drafting amendments that protect our way of life.

In real life, of course, politics is messy. And, more important, boring. For every election night balloon drop victory party, there are a million days filled with the crushingly tedious work of voter contact and fundraising and town hall meetings filled with cranky and angry constituents.

But, as we learned this week, it is the people who do the non-glamorous work, those who spend almost every single day of their entire career in relative ambiguity, who help keep our democratic institutions steady. I’m talking about the elected officials, poll workers, and office staff, who ensured that this election - an election taking place in the middle of a health pandemic and with record turnout - was conducted as fairly, smoothly, and judiciously as possible. They are doing this work under great duress and stress. They continue to do their job even as the president of the United States - without any evidence - takes to the White House briefing room to question their integrity.

When the election is over, these folks aren’t going to get a sweet cable TV gig or their own podcast. Instead, they are going to go back to their offices and prepare for the next election.

For all of you who are cynical or anxious about the sturdiness of the guardrails protecting our democratic institutions, look no further than the local officials in charge of voting. They are not bowing to pressure from the president. They are not abandoning their posts for fear of political reprisal. They are doing their jobs. And, doing them well. 

At the end of the day, it is regular people who are responsible for our democracy. And, the regular people are saving it."

Politics with Amy Walter: The Next President of the United States