Biden got 80 million votes — that should be a huge news story

Trump voters aren't news

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Trump's incessant post-election whining about the election being "stolen" has distracted from the stunning vote totals Joe Biden posted, becoming the first candidate in U.S. history to land 80 million votes. Twenty million more Americans cast ballots in 2020 compared to 2016. In total, 67 percent of eligible voters submitted ballots this year, the highest American tally in a century. Additionally, Biden obliterated all campaign fundraising records, taking in a staggering $940 million from supporters.

The fact that the Democratic nominee received 80 million votes amidst a pandemic, with some states seeing an astronomical voter turnout rate this year hovering at 80 percent, should have triggered constant coverage about Biden's successful campaign and his unprecedented ability to attract voters. You'd think cable news panels and opinion pages would be flooded with debates and insights into how Biden pulled off such a stunning performance — how he received 34 million (!) more votes than Bill Clinton did in 1996, and 16 million more than Obama received in 2012. Shouldn't that make Biden a political phenomenon?

Instead of dissecting Biden's sprawling Black, Brown and white coalition of voters, who helped flip five states on Election Day, the press continues to be amazed by how many votes the losing candidate received. It's a singular focus we've never seen before in American politics.

Have you seen "Why Did 80 Million People Vote For Joe Biden?" headlines in the New York Times or Washington Post since Election Day? I have not. But I have seen the press obsess over Trump voters since he lost. "Why Did So Many Americans Vote for Trump?" was the headline of a recent column in the Times. The piece captured so much of what we've seen in post-election analysis, emphasizing not the stunning vote tally Biden amassed, and one that shattered the U.S. record, but on Trump's smaller total.

The fact that Trump landed six million fewer votes than Biden was presented as a huge problem for "struggling" and "uncomfortable" Democrats, who, despite the doom-and-gloom punditry, still have a chance of controlling the House, the Senate, and the White House come next month.

In the Times telling, Trump (who lost the election) outmaneuvered Democrats regarding the pandemic, as he argued for "re-opening" the economy. Left out of the analysis was the acknowledgement that millions of Trump supporters think the pandemic is a hoax. How Democrats are supposed to reach anti-science crusaders is never explained in a piece that tips its hat to Trump's savvy ways. The column also chided Democrats for not having better Election Day messaging, without acknowledging the Right-Wing Noise Machine, led by Fox News, which delivers free propaganda, 24/7, for the GOP.

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Worse, the press attention on Trump voters since his loss often revolves around collecting quotes from supporters who relentlessly lie about the election and offer up claims of missing ballots. That gets presented as news. "There’s millions and millions of Trump votes that were just thrown out,” one voter told Reuters last week. “That computer was throwing them out." Added another, "Trump is the only one we’ve been able to trust for the last four years. As far as the civil war goes, I don’t think it’s off the table.”

It feels like because Biden voters don't embrace hateful lies and delusional conspiracy theories, the press penalizes them in terms of the time and attention they receive.

"Perhaps it is time to understand the 80 million voters who chose President-elect Joe Biden," noted Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post, as she admonished journalists for coddling Trump voters and continuing to shower them with attention. Rubin stressed that Biden captured that huge number of votes not by running as a safe, centrist candidate, but by running on the most progressive Democratic Party platform ever.

The irony is that while the press shrugs its shoulders over Biden's staggering 80 million votes, Trump and his loyalists continue to express amazement and shock. In fact, the 80 million number for them is so vast, it's not to be believed. They now use it as proof that the election was stolen because it's inconceivable Biden recorded that many votes. "Even the few Democrats who voted for Biden know he didn't get 80 million votes," tweeted one loyalist. Added Trump over the weekend: "There is no way Joe Biden got 80 million votes. Joe Biden did not get 16 million more votes than Barack Hussein Obama."

Some observers insist the record turnout was driven by Trump. It's Trump who energized so many millions to go to the polls, they say, therefore Biden's accomplishment isn't that remarkable. It's certainly true that the election stood as a referendum on the incumbent, as all re-election campaigns do. And millions specifically wanted to vote against Trump. But it's interesting to note that voter turnout was through the roof in blue states, while red states made up the states with the lowest participation rate this year. That undercuts the idea that Trump motivates an army of voters to the polls on Election Day.  

Biden's victory was astonishing in its scope. The press ought to treat it that way.


🩺 GOOD STUFF:

This is what happens when Trump picks his advisers from watching Fox News. From Media Matters' Matthew Gertz's piece, "The Staggering Cost of the Scott Atlas Debacle":

Atlas’ appointment in August represented the purest example of the disastrous impact of the feedback loop between President Donald Trump and Fox’s propaganda. An unqualified ideologue launched to power because the president liked his Fox hits, under his guidance Trump oversaw a predictable and horrifying surge in the virus that repeatedly reached the White House itself. 

Shortly after Fox broke the news of Atlas’ resignation, he appeared on the program of network star Tucker Carlson, who praised him for being “brave” and “right.” “We see that objective journalism is nearly dead, and I think we now saw that science has been politicized, and it's very, very dangerous,” Atlas told the host. “I think we should all be very concerned about it.”

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🐕‍🦺 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK

Chris Stapleton, "Maggie's Song"

We really don’t deserve dogs, do we? A wonderful ode from Stapleton’s new album.

Let me tell you a story
About an old friend of mine
Somebody left her in a shopping cart
In a parking lot for us to find
Just a fuzzy black pup
She was hungry and feeling alone
We put her in the back seat
And told her we were taking her home