Graphic by Catherine Buchaniec
With preliminary vote totals coming in from across the country, Evanston organizations reacted to incoming results in swing states likely to determine the outcome of the election.
Even with Trump’s wins in key states like Florida, Laura Tanner Swinand, co-founder of Indivisible Evanston, said she remained hopeful about the state.
“I’m hopeful about Florida because I do think that the older people in Florida have really seen how poorly Trump handled the coronavirus pandemic,” Swinand said
Swinand also said she thought young people in the state would come out and vote after the Parkland shooting in February 2018, which could help tilt the tide for Biden.
North Carolina, another important swing state, was trending toward Biden at the beginning of the night, but later turned in favor of Trump. Rachel Ruttenberg, the president of the Democratic Party of Evanston, thought this state would be an important test for the success of Democratic campaign strategies across the country.
“(North Carolina) has been a target of Democrats for a long time,” Ruttenberg said. “It would be a really good testing ground to see how the country feels on issues, like the coronavirus.”
Ruttenberg thought Ohio would play a similar role in the election in demonstrating the temperature of the nation’s electorate, framing North Carolina and Ohio as two of the states she would be watching very closely.
As of 9 p.m., Biden was leading by 2 percent in Ohio with 62 percent reporting, but an hour later Biden’s lead disappeared with preliminary results showing him losing by over 6 percentage votes with 82 percent of the vote in. Even with Election Day numbers continuing to come in, the final vote result in Ohio may not be finalized anytime soon because the state is accepting mail-in ballots that arrive 10 days after the election.
While it was early in the night with many votes still outstanding, it was becoming clear that the important states known to be a part of the “blue wall” — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — were shaping up to determine the outcome of the election. All three states do not expect to have final vote counts by the end of election night.
Swinand described an extensive “get out the vote” campaign in coordination with Indivisible chapters in Michigan, which she hoped would ultimately help Biden carry Michigan and Wisconsin.
“We helped contact 100,000 unregistered voters in August in a joint project called Rust Belt Rising,” Swinand said. “We have really been hard at work in both Michigan and Wisconsin.”
Beyond the presidential race, key Senate races across the country will determine which party will control the Senate. Around 8:40 p.m., Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper was declared the winner in the Colorado Senate race against incumbent Republican Senator Cory Gardner. Democrats will need to flip four Senate seats to take control.
Ruttenberg saw that Senate election as a very encouraging sign for Democrats looking to flip the Senate in 2020.
“I’m not sure if folks were expecting that result,” Ruttenberg said. “I know that a ton was invested in that race. But that’s the sort of momentum that’s really exciting.”
The other big theme of the night heading into the 10 p.m. mark was the record turnout seen in large swaths of the country, such as in Texas and Florida. Many of these states saw their early vote tallies exceed their entire turnout for the 2016 presidential election.
To Sue Brenner, a member of the League of Women Voters in Evanston, this was an encouraging trend demonstrating the excitement the 2020 election has elicited in voters across the country.
“This is an election where people are very invested and I think it’s really exciting to see large turnout,” Brenner said. “I think we’re lucky to vote in this country.”
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