The Morning Dispatch: Biden Calls for Unity
Plus: Trump refuses to concede while world leaders offer Biden congratulations.
Happy Monday! With Joe Biden’s victory finally coming into focus after a long and chaotic week, you might be beginning to wonder … What’s Next. If so, do we have the two-day virtual event for you! Scroll down to read the full schedule, and we hope to see you in just a few hours!
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
Network decision desks—from the Associated Press, to Fox News, to CNN, to NBC News—called the presidential race for Joe Biden on Saturday as the former vice president’s lead over Donald Trump in Pennsylvania continued to grow. Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina remain too close to call, but Biden’s projected victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania put him above the 270-electoral vote threshold. The president-elect declared victory in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday night. President Trump has not conceded the race.
Joe Biden’s transition team launched a website with details on his priorities, which it divides into four buckets: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change. The Biden administration plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and World Health Organization, and work with governors and mayors to implement mask mandates nationwide.
The October unemployment rate decreased by a full point from that of September—from 7.9 percent to 6.9 percent—after employers added 638,000 jobs last month, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys last night, and is likely to lead to high winds and flash flooding over the coming days.
Alex Trebek—the iconic host of Jeopardy! since 1984—died on Sunday at the age of 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer that he made public in March 2019.
The United States confirmed 100,366 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday per the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, with 9 percent of the 1,120,666 tests reported coming back positive. An additional 453 deaths were attributed to the virus on Sunday, bringing the pandemic’s American death toll to 237,566. According to the COVID Tracking Project, 56,768 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
‘Let’s Give Each Other a Chance.’
When we were last in your inboxes on Friday, the winner of the presidential election had yet to be declared, but we were inching closer and closer to one outcome. “You can pretty safely expect major network decision desks to call the race for Biden later today,” we wrote.
We were off by about 12 hours. One smaller elections analyst—Decision Desk HQ—projected Biden as the winner just before 9 a.m. ET on Friday, but the major networks held off until about 11 a.m. on Saturday, when Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania was even more secure.
As of Sunday night, Biden’s margin in Pennsylvania stands at 43,210 (and growing); in Nevada it’s 34,283 (and growing); in Arizona it’s 16,985 (and shrinking); in Georgia it’s 10,353 (and growing). The former VP is at 279 electoral votes with states that have been called; that number is likely to grow to 306 once the results in Arizona and Georgia are certified.
“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris,” Biden said in a statement minutes after the call. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”
That theme played prominently in Biden’s speech to the nation Saturday night, in which he declared victory and extended a rhetorical olive branch to his political opponents. “For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple times myself,” he said. “But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies, they are Americans.”
At the same time, Biden made clear he believes the American people delivered him a directive by casting 75.6 million votes for him (and counting). “What is our mandate?” he asked. “I believe it’s this: Americans have called on us to marshal the forces of decency, the forces of fairness. To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time. The battle to control the virus. The battle to build prosperity. The battle to secure your family’s health care. The battle to achieve racial justice and root out systemic racism in this country. And the battle to save our planet by getting climate under control. The battle to restore decency, defend democracy, and give everybody in this country a fair shot.”
The Trump Non-Concession
President Trump was not fazed by the media calling the race, releasing a statement shortly afterward that said (accurately!) that “legal votes decide who is president, not the news media.” (Four years ago, however, Trump was more than happy to declare victory on Election Night based on media projections.)
Unless and until the Trump campaign produces evidence—in court, not on social media—of voter fraud or other illegalities, the president and his allies’ antics can and should be classified as a PR campaign, not a legal one. The fine print on the campaign’s website shows that 60 percent of contributions to Trump’s new “Election Defense Fund” will actually be diverted toward retiring his campaign’s debt, and Axios reported last night that the president plans to “hold campaign-style rallies … in an effort to prolong his fight against apparent insurmountable election results.” Former GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock referred to one of the Trump team’s evidence-free claims—that a Biden/Harris van showed up to a Nevada polling place and swapped out ballots—as “tin foil hat stuff.”
For the past five years, Trump has typically been able to use his media savvy and salesmanship to bend the narrative surrounding his candidacy and presidency. But as with the coronavirus, he’s now running up against a reality he can’t wish away. “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” he tweeted incorrectly upon returning from his golf club on Saturday. Twitter slapped a disclaimer on the post, the networks stood by their projections, and Biden delivered a victory speech later that evening.
Foreign leaders aren’t being dissuaded by Trump’s reluctance to concede, either. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she looks forward to “future cooperation with President Biden,” and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed similar sentiments. Even allies more philosophically aligned with President Trump—including Prime Ministers Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, as well as Saudi Arabian King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—congratulated Biden. “Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel,” Netanyahu tweeted. “I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.”
In many ways, the domestic partisan divide has proven a larger gap than the Atlantic Ocean, as many elected Republicans continue to indulge—actively or passively—President Trump’s assertions of voter fraud on a scale large enough to tip the election. A handful of Republicans have publicly accepted the reality of Biden’s victory, but only those long derided by MAGA World as RINOs or NeverTrumpers. “Ann and I extend our congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” Sen. Mitt Romney said. “We know both of them as people of good will and admirable character. We pray that God may bless them in the days and years ahead.”
“Everyone should want [President-elect Biden] to succeed because we need our country to succeed,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted. Retiring Rep. Will Hurd said on Saturday that it was time to come together as a country. “America has spoken and we must respect the decision,” he tweeted. “More unites us than divides us; we can find common ground. I hope the president-elect can embody this. I wish him good luck and I wish the president a successful final few weeks. God bless the USA!”
The biggest domino thus far fell on Sunday afternoon, when former President George W. Bush released a statement recognizing Biden’s victory. “Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country,” Bush wrote. “The fact that so many of our fellow citizens participated in this election is a positive sign of the health of our democracy and a reminder to the world of its strength. No matter how you voted, your vote counted. President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated. The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”
What’s Next Event Begins Today!
Today’s the day! Join The Dispatch for a post-election gathering today and tomorrow featuring congressional leadership and top policy and political experts from both sides of the aisle. Tickets are $100 for an all-access pass to both days of event programming (and come with a complimentary annual membership to The Dispatch), and each session will be recorded and available on-demand at the conclusion of the day.
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Monthly members can purchase a ticket today, and have their membership extended for one year.
Today’s Event Schedule:
11 a.m. ET — Welcome with Sarah Isgur and Steve Hayes
11:15 a.m. ET — What Happened: Election 2020, with Karl Rove, Joe Trippi, Sarah Isgur, and Steve Hayes
12:15 p.m. ET — Break
12:30 p.m ET — What’s Next For The Democrats? A View From The Left, with Lis Smith, Mo Elleithee, and Sarah Isgur
1:30 p.m. ET — Break
3:00 p.m. ET — Where Do Evangelicals Go From Here? A Conversation with Dr. Russell Moore and David French
4 p.m. ET — The Future of the Republican Party, with Reince Priebus and Steve Hayes
5 p.m. ET — America and the World, with Rep. Mike Gallagher, Rep. Michael Waltz, Amb. Mark Green, and Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin
8 p.m. ET — Primetime Recap with Jonah Goldberg, Steve Hayes, David French, and Sarah Isgur
Tomorrow’s Event Schedule:
11 a.m. ET — Welcome with Sarah Isgur
11:05 a.m. ET — A Conversation with Sen. Tim Scott, interviewed by David French
12 p.m. ET — Break
12:30 p.m ET — A View From the States, with Gov. Larry Hogan and Sarah Isgur
1:30 p.m. ET — Break
2 p.m. ET — A Conversation with Rep. Liz Cheney, interviewed by Steve Hayes
3 p.m. ET — A Conversation with Sen. Ben Sasse, interviewed by Jonah Goldberg
4 p.m. ET — American Institutions in Decay, with Yuval Levin, Andy Smarick, Jack Goldsmith, and Jonah Goldberg
8 p.m. ET — Primetime Recap with Jonah Goldberg, Steve Hayes, David French, and Sarah Isgur
Worth Your Time
In a piece for National Review, Kevin Williamson—acerbic as always—argues that no clear ideology emerged victorious from last week’s election. Best-laid plans lie in tatters everywhere: Joe Biden got “into bed with a clutch of self-declared socialists and then lost bigly in Florida as Latinos with some intimate experience of that wretched ideology said: ¡Socialismo, no!” In Kentucky, “Democrats had high hopes for the extravagantly funded challenger Cocaine Mitch just wiped off his windshield.” Some people see hope for the future of their faction: “Many Trump allies are imagining what Trumpism might accomplish under the leadership of someone with a little bit of discipline and a less adolescent social-media regimen.” And for the beleaguered conservative critics of Trump? Williamson concludes, “Conservative Trump critics don’t think we won the election. That may turn out to be the only thing we’re right about this November.”
In the wake of higher-than-expected Latino support for President Trump along the Texas border, Elizabeth Findell of the Wall Street Journal went to Starr County and Zapata County, home to 55- and 39-point swings toward Trump from 2016, respectively. Why did the citizens of these overwhelmingly Hispanic counties break heavily in the GOP’s direction? Oil jobs, Trump’s opposition to abortion, a high percentage of residents who work in law enforcement, Trump’s message on the economy—reasons Trump voters of all races supported him this year. Maybe it shouldn’t have been that surprising, and Democrats shouldn’t have taken the Hispanic vote for granted. “Amanda Salas, a local Democratic organizer, bemoaned the lack of outreach and resources from state and national Democratic groups, which she said wrote off the region: ‘What did we expect was going to happen?’”
After hosting Saturday Night Live’s post-election episode four years ago, comedian Dave Chappelle returned to 30 Rock over the weekend to process what just happened. Like all Chapelle monologues, it contains a lot of words we can’t print in this newsletter; it will offend you regardless of your political persuasion. And like many Chapelle monologues, it was insightful and didn’t indulge in easy answers. He concluded with a thoughtful but unifying message, noting that many Americans—on both sides of our cultural divide—don’t feel at home in their own country, or heard by their government. “Here’s the difference between me and you,” he says. “You guys hate each other for that, and I don’t hate anybody. I just hate that feeling. That’s what I fight through. That’s what I suggest you fight through. You’ve got to find a way to live your life. You’ve got to find a way to forgive each other.”
There are so many incredible Alex Trebek moments from the past three decades, it was difficult to pick just one to include here. But here’s a special moment from an episode that aired just last Thursday. Rest in peace, Alex.
Presented Without Comment
Also Presented Without Comment
Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 @mtgreeneeThe time to STAND UP for @realDonaldTrump is RIGHT NOW! Republicans can’t back down. This loser mindset is how the Democrats win. President Trump has fought for us, we have to fight for him. We won’t forget. Trust me. https://t.co/rN83otNxZd
Also Also Presented Without Comment
Toeing The Company Line
In his Sunday French Press, David extends the same grace he afforded Trump at the outset of his presidency four years ago. “One does not have to agree with Biden’s policies—and one can even still feel aggrieved at Biden’s sins—but it strikes me as terribly small not to acknowledge the immensity of the moment, the depth of his suffering, and the actual virtues he demonstrated in the campaign,” he writes.
For all the talk about whether Joe Biden has a “mandate,” given his narrow victory, there’s one big complicating factor: A divided government doesn’t lend itself to such thinking. “Biden will ask Congress for things I won’t like, but because it’s likely the GOP will control the Senate, he’ll have to ask. He’ll have to horse-trade. He’ll have to persuade,” writes Jonah in his latest G-File. “He’ll have to take into account the interests of people who disagree with him, and negotiate accordingly.”
Tight vote counts in battleground states laid the groundwork for election disinformation to explode online over the past few days. But not to worry, Dispatch fact checkers Alec Dent and Khaya Himmelman—along with staff writer Andrew Egger—joined Friday’s episode of the Dispatch Podcast to debunk several conspiracy theories surrounding election fraud that have cropped up in the past week.
Over at the site today, James unpacks the results of four voter initiatives in California that demonstrated that voters there aren’t quite as reliably blue as one might expect. A proposition to allow “app-based drivers” (i.e., Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash) to continue working as contractors passed, while measures to implement rent control, increase property taxes, and overturn the state’s affirmative action ban all failed.
Let Us Know
Which What’s Next panel are you most excited for, and what questions are you hoping will be asked?
Reporting by Declan Garvey (@declanpgarvey), Andrew Egger (@EggerDC), Audrey Fahlberg (@FahlOutBerg), Charlotte Lawson (@charlotteUVA), James P. Sutton (@jamespsuttonsf), and Steve Hayes (@stephenfhayes).
Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images.