Imagining the fallout from America’s most disputed presidential election
Imagine the scene. It’s the morning of 4 November, 2020. After a long night waiting for the election results to trickle in, Donald Trump is addressing the country on national TV, thanking Americans for re-electing him as president. But as some viewers change the channel in disgust, there’s something strange going on. Trump’s rival for the White House, former vice president Joe Biden, is also on TV, addressing raucous supporters at his Philadelphia campaign headquarters and thanking the nation for electing him the 46th president of the United States.
A little over 12 hours earlier, the major TV networks had started the steady march of declaring winners. Just after 7pm Eastern Time, Indiana and Kentucky go to Trump and Vermont goes to Biden. So the night continues with no surprises as reliably Republican states fall to Trump and Democrat stalwarts line up behind Biden. The first real signs that 2016 could be repeating itself come at 10.47pm, when CNN declares Florida for Trump. Americans settle in for a long evening.