Impatience can play tricks on us on election night.
Accustomed to the main media declaring a winner late at night or in the early morning of the next day – and even hearing some of the candidates acknowledge the victory -, the expectation for this Tuesday, November 3 is not surprising. .
But all the experts they ask for calm: we may not know the winner that day. What’s more, overnight we may be convinced that Donald Trump has covered the map in red, a Republican color; or that Joe Biden has done the same with the blue democrat; but it’s only about a mirage”.
It is a kind of “confusion” that various analysts and journalists in the country are warning about, amid the disinformation campaigns that have marked this campaign.
What exactly do they mean?
The concept refers precisely to what its name indicates, a reality that ends up not being so.
In electoral terms: that the results that begin to be published that night point to the victory of one of the candidates, but, later, either in the same morning or days later, the panorama turns upside down.
“Red mirage” (of English red mirage), in reference to an apparent Trump victory; or “blue mirage”(blue mirage) by Biden.
And it is expected that these elections will see great changes in the results that are published some states, though not all, due to the peculiarities of the scrutiny, with a high percentage of early voting and by mail, and the different rules on how and when to carry it out.
- To win the US presidency, you don’t have to win the majority of the popular votes. You have to get at least 270 of the 538 votes of the electoral College.
- Millions of Americans are voting more by mail this election than the previous one, which may lead to us having to wait days to find out the final result while those votes are processed and counted.
- Due to the unprecedented rise in vote-by-mail, the candidate who appears to be leading the race overnight may not end up the winner… So watch out for preliminary results.
“The red mirage (…) lies in the fact that with voting in 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC), we have 51 elections happening at the same time. Each place has its own rules and that affects the way votes are processed and how they are counted, “explains electoral analyst Geoffrey Skelley, from the renowned polling portal FiveThirtyEight.
The key, therefore, is in what decide to do each territoryIn some, the votes cast in person on Election Day will be counted earlier and those are expected to favor Trump, as the polls conducted show that a greater number of citizens registered as Republicans said they would vote on the 3rd, in person.
But, in others, the result of the vote by mail will be published before or will be included in the first results together with the votes of the day that are counted. And those are more likely to tend to favor Biden, according to data from the same polls, which garnered increased interest in this option among registered voters as Democrats.
Let’s take as an example Florida, with a record of granting or taking presidencies and with extensive experience in voting by mail.
The territory of the sun began to process and count the votes by mail and early votes before the elections. He does not report the result before election night, but that allows him advance much of the work.
So, according to Skelley, when Florida closes the polls and soon after begins publishing results, “we may see that the Democrats are doing better at the beginning. [espejismo azul] and Republicans gaining ground as the night progresses due to votes that day, which will tend to be pro-Trump. “
The situation may be quite the opposite in some regions of the rust or industrial belt (of English Rust Belt): Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin, the three states that unexpectedly turned in 2016 in favor of Trump and opened the doors to the White House with only about 80,000 votes.
This year his role could also be decisive if the race is close, but, in this case, it will still be necessary more patience.
In Pennsylvania, for example, “election officials they cannot start processing the votes by mail until 7 am on Election Day and thus there is a strong possibility that much of the vote initially counted will come from those cast “in person on the 3rd.
That is to say, in this case a kind of “red mirage” is produced.
However, we must take into account the records of early participation already registered, which can speed up the process and cause the overturn “don’t be as marked as some fear”, highlights the analyst.
“The anticipated participation levels have been incredible. It’s something we’ve never seen, it’s completely unusual in history“, stresses for his part David Becker, executive director of the Center for Electoral Research and Innovation and former official of the Department of Justice.
“There are states like Texas that are already at 90% of the participation that was registered in 2016 (…) and that helps to guarantee that the elections are held with the fewest possible setbacks,” he specified in conversation with BBC Mundo last week , when the elections were still six days away.
With an election day, Texas has already surpassed its 2016 turnout.
In his opinion, the “red mirage” is an absurd concept, which falls into the error of assuming that the results are official when “they are not”; as if in a tennis match, a player declared himself the winner after the first set.
“It’s based on the idea that somehow someone could say they are ahead with a small percentage of the votes counted, what is ridiculous“.
However, the warnings that are being heard these days in the country can be explained in part by the delicate political and social moment the country is going through, and the threat of electoral fraud, agitated by the Republican campaign.
President Trump, who is lagging behind the polls, has warned on numerous occasions that voting by mail encourages fraud, despite no evidence of it, and has been insisting The results have been known on election night for months.
“We must know the results of the elections on election night, not days, months or even years later!” He noted on Twitter last July.
In Becker’s view, these types of messages they are harmful.
“There is nothing that our adversaries want more than that we Americans lose confidence in our elections and in democracy (…) We know from decades of experience that voting by mail is safe, that electoral fraud is extremely rare in the United States. . And that will be the case in 2020 “, emphasizes the electoral expert.
“And if voters hear someone saying they don’t trust the system – from one of the campaigns, for example – it’s probably because that campaign think you are losing “, concludes.
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Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.