Our New York based columnist Rana Foroohar offers her views on election day so far
American shopkeepers have been walking into stores for days and the police are planning rioting. Today many US schools, including some in the NYC where I live, were closed for election violence. And yet, from the start, November 3rd could be a lot quieter than most experts predicted.
Part of this could be due to the fact that so many people voted early. More than 100 million people, nearly a third of the country, cast their votes before the vote began Tuesday. In that sense, Covid-19 has been a boon to participatory democracy – the early vote is, in large part, about states' efforts to make elections safer.
It may also be about the strength of the belief that people on both sides of the aisle in the US are thinking about their political choices today. We're likely to see 20 to 30 million more votes this time around than in 2016.
But even if things go as I predicted and Joe Biden wins, I doubt there will be any major social unrest. We have adjusted to the fact that the final balance in some key states may take several days. For weeks we have heard the President say he will question the outcome no matter what. However, there have been only isolated incidents of disruption across the country amid the most politically divided moment in decades.
We saw three things – first, the blockage of a bridge in New York City and the area around a Biden bus in Texas by Trump supporters that looked more like futile gestures of anger than well-organized and worrying insurgency efforts. They just didn't make sense.
Second, some people showed up at polling stations in Detroit on Monday to cause trouble. They clearly listened to and acted upon what Trump said about election observers – but they were not an army or a concerted effort. It was mentally fragile people who took Mr. Trump seriously. Again, this is not serious social unrest. it is isolated marginal behavior.
Third, of course, there have been several cases of voter suppression in the south, some allegedly by the Klan. But again, they haven't been well organized or new evidence of something broader and more systematic than what we've seen in the past (though that's no reason not to be completely downcast that we are still behaving in 21st century America The 19th century has been done by hateful people who have always been there, but in a big country like the US, local pathologies here and there don't wage a new civil war.
Trump's senior adviser Jason Miller, who equated the counting of votes to the theft of an election, was certainly worrying. But of course he has no legal leg, and the Trump campaign itself does not seem to have pushed this point any further.
We'll see what happens when controversial results go to the Supreme Court, which is now deeply divided following President Trump's appointment of three new judges. But I suspect that the real uprising will not take place in the streets or in court, but within the Republican Party itself. I'll blog about it later today.