Predictably unpredictable ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

November 4, 2020

Understand more. Argue less.

The most effortless news experience of your week: both sides, no exhaustion.

If you enjoy our election analysis, forward this to a friend. Help them cut through the noise and start a conversation.


A Very 2020 Election

Katherine Chuang

*This newsletter was published at 6:30a

In this historic election, we still don’t have a conclusive winner. Back in 2000, just half of voters said it really mattered who won the election, whereas this year that number is 83%  (PEW). According to 538, 69% of registered voters said they were more enthusiastic about voting than they were in 2016. On top of the 102M mail in ballots, millions braved the Coronavirus and long lines to vote in person on November 3rd (538). While this election was not free of concerns, many of those worries never materialized. There were no signs of widespread voter intimidation or violence at the polls (AP). DHS Secretary, Chad Wolf, stated that there is no indication of foreign interference as we anxiously await conclusive results (USA Today). The presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was much tighter than anyone expected. States are still counting a combination of election day and mail-in ballots, and they may be for a few more days. 

Last night wasn’t just about the presidency, though: the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic House of Representatives were also at stake. In down-ballot races, the Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives but their odds of winning the Senate have diminished. Unless Biden is elected, the Democrats need to pick up four Senate seats (the VP counts as one Senate seat). They found one in Colorado with Hickenlooper, only to lose a seat in Alabama to Tuberville. Republicans have managed to secure several “vulnerable” seats in Iowa, Texas, and Kansas, though their hold over the senate majority is still not certain. (AP)

In a press conference, President Trump claimed, “we won the election.” Joe Biden had held a press conference over an hour before, in which he voiced his confidence in his candidacy. At the time of writing, Trump has213 electoral college votes, while Biden has 238 (AP).The final “push” to 270 electoral votes now depends on four states that will be counted in the next few days: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan. 

Here’s what you need to know.


  • Pennsylvania (PA). 74% of total estimated votes have been counted. However, only 28% of counties (19 of 67) have reported absentee votes in PA, making it too early to call. (538)

  • Wisconsin (WI). 89% of total estimated votes have been counted, and Biden has a 9,000 vote lead with many of the remaining votes projected to be absentee ballots (which lean Democratic). (538)

  • Georgia (GA). 94% of total estimated votes have been counted, and Trump leads by a little more than 100,000 votes. Votes from urban areas and large counties -- Fulton, Gwinnett, and Dekalb -- will be counted today. (USA Today)

  • Michigan (MI). 79% of total estimated votes have been counted, and Trump leads by over 200,00 votes. However, Wayne country -- a historic Democratic stronghold -- has only counted 48% of it’s votes. (NPR)


How It's Being Spun

Katherine Chuang

Here are the narratives from both sides, along with supporting headlines and article snippets. The bias ratings refer to news outlets as a whole, not a specific article.

Knowing the bias in our news helps us understand the big picture. If you're reading on mobile, the Left's narrative will appear above the Right's. Next week, we'll switch it up.

Narrative from the Left

While the key swing states are looking more heavily contested than predicted by polls, it’s not over until every single ballot is counted. Do not fret. While it’s closer than we’d like, it’s not over until it’s over, even if Trump falsely claims it is. 

Headlines & Snippets

Biden urges patience: ‘It ain’t over till every vote is counted.’

"As I’ve said all along, it’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this Presidential election. That’s the decision of the American people. But I’m optimistic about this outcome." (NYT)

Trump activates his long-standing plan to contest the election

This was always President Trump’s plan. He said it in the spring. He said it again over the summer. And he hinted at it again in the early hours of Wednesday: Votes shouldn’t be counted after Election Day. (Politico)

The Election Isn't Over Yet, No Matter What Trump Says

Democrats disproportionately voted by mail this election, and since Republican state legislators in all three states didn’t allow local officials to start counting mail ballots early enough to have them tallied by election night, they’ll take a while to count. (VICE)

Narrative from the Right

Well, well, well. The Democrats didn’t listen in 2016, and they didn’t this year, either. The polls have never been able to accurately capture the enthusiasm surrounding Trump. He's going to come from behind and shock the world yet again.

Headlines & Snippets

Carlson: Media misjudged Trump support among non-White voters

"Miami-Dade is 70 percent Hispanic. That’s not what you would have expected if you’ve been watching this attempt to racialize everything to make Trump the greatest racist in the world’s history." (Fox News)

Election Betting Odds Suddenly Flip to Favor Trump Over Biden

"This has mainly been driven by Trump holding the key swing state of Florida as a result of a very strong showing in Miami-Dade county with a large Cuban population," said Patrick Flynn, political analyst at Smarkets. (Newsmaxx)

Tucker Carlson Blasts Polls and Polarization On Election Night

“We were wrong, and some of these polls were wrong, and I think many of them probably were wrong for honest reasons but wrong nonetheless,” Carlson said, emphasizing his criticism isn’t directed at Fox News but at the media more broadly. (Federalist)

But, It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes, the news gets it right. Here are two instances of traditionally biased outlets reporting with civility by conceding a point to the other side's narrative.

It Sure Looks Like Democrats Are Going to Retain the House

It appears increasingly likely that Democrats, as expected, will keep control of Congress and potentially even add to their 35-seat House lead. (Reason)

How Miami Cubans disrupted Biden’s path to a Florida win

After four years of non-stop outreach to Miami’s Cuban exile community, Trump cruised to victory in Florida thanks to their heavy turnout. (Politco)


What Does It All Mean?

It’s unclear whether Trump will get four more years, or if Biden will make the jump from ex-VP to Commander in Chief. Right now, both candidates still have a path to victory through the Rust Belt.

  • If your news outlets lean left, you’re probably a little anxious, but haven’t lost all faith that Biden will win. You were probably caught off guard early with Trump's upset in Florida, and now you're nervously anticipating the mail in ballots that still need to be counted in the Rust Belt.Trump calling the election in his favor and claiming liberals were “stealing” the election felt painfully unpresidential, especially with the possibility of 4 more years looming. 

  • If your news outlets lean right, you will see Election Day as reassurance of your vision for a better America. There is no blue wave to be found, and you feel proud that your guy is outperforming the polls yet again. You are thrilled that Trump won Florida: clearly the Democrats don’t know as much about polling and the minority vote as they claim. The Democrats are playing catch-up, and you’re expecting them to have a difficult time climbing that hill.

This election has been a rollercoaster, to say the least. The predicted landslide for Biden simply did not happen. Instead, we got what might be the closest presidential race in recent U.S history. While many pollsters tried to lower expectations of their data, they’re going to have a lot to answer for since they’ve now missed the mark on 2 critical elections in a row. The largest surprise and most influential moment so far was Donald Trump’s Florida win, which was a huge step for him in his ongoing reelection bid. 

In the wee hours of wednesday morning, several states are still in the process of counting their ballots: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Arizona is leaning Biden, North Carolina towards Trump. Beyond that, it’s a toss-up. Wisconsin and Georgia are (hopefully) going to finish counting later today, but most of the others will still be reporting later into the week. Early votes are the greatest source of variance right now. Will they be able to turn the tides in the Midwest? 

Election Day went more smoothly than expected, but it seems that the election frenzy may stretch on this year, in the form of litigation by one (or both) parties. “With the election coming to a close, the Trump and Biden campaigns, voting rights organizations, and conservative groups are raising money and dispatching armies of lawyers for what could become a state-by-state, county-by-county legal battle over which ballots will ultimately be counted.” (NYT) Unless this legal battle stops the count, we should know who won by the end of the week. It’s hard to wait for news this huge, but democracy is worth it.

Let's Argue Less

Now that you understand more about the election, you're ready to take the next step.

Weekly Civility Challenge

How're you de-stressing from a long election night (aside from reading Civil of course)?

Reply to this email with your response and we’ll feature the winner next week!

Last Week's Winner

Here's the best response we received. Thank you Scott Tubergen!

"With my work I am in people's houses and businesses' 1 or 2 times a day. More often than I would like I pull up and see numerous political signs which I don't agree with. This works amazing, "I see your signs out front, you and I have very different political views. Lately, I am laying awake at night (I really am not) worried that your guy is going to win. I see you as a normal American like myself who wants life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Please talk me off the cliff and show me how I can be comfortable with 'your guy'. 

I have taken this approach several times and the conversation lasts longer than I wanted it to. Two times recently I received texts thanking me for the conversation and asking to get together for coffee or lunch some time. I cannot say that I have convinced anyone of my beliefs, but I feel I have shown a them "Civil" perspective."

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