It seems two main events have collided this year, creating a poisonous soup of anger, violence, economic uncertainty and despair: COVID-19, and the death of George Floyd. To discuss a “2020 election prediction map” might seem an odd — even insensitive — thing to bring up next, but these two events and their underlying causes arguably sway every county and state.
I’ll share only two perspectives I’m most familiar with relating to these events: small-town Kerrville, Texas, and New York City. At the end of this article, I’ll show you my election predictions, and you can use the same online tool to make your own.
In 2018, I moved from an election district in NYC that went 89% Hillary and 6% Trump to an election district in Texas that was 78% Trump and 18% Hillary. I voted for Trump in 2016 and briefly flirted this time with voting for Bloomberg before he dropped out. He was a good New York City mayor and has great executive experience.
To be frank, though, I wasn’t relishing the idea of not voting for Trump again in such a heavily Trump district as I live in now.
Since Bloomberg dropped, I’ve become even more convinced that my 2020 vote for Trump — even though it’s costing me friends — is one I can live with. Not live with “proudly,” because I have too many friends on the other side and can understand their position, but I can vote secure in the knowledge that I’ve thought this through.
Kerrville, Texas. The tragic death of George Floyd has not prompted any riots here or near here and, to my knowledge, not even a peaceful protest. Perhaps it’s because we have residents like the man I saw today in H-E-B who had an open-carry permit. I decided not to cut him off at the cheese section with my cart the way I might have with some elderly lady who lives in the Take-It-Easy RV Resort over on Main Street. I can usually escape with no repercussions from a senior citizen when I deftly swipe the last 4% milk-fat cottage cheese out from under them. (I actually do eat cottage cheese; love that stuff.)
Perhaps we don’t feel the effect of George Floyd’s death because we are generally a pro-police citizenry (as I am) or because our town is overwhelming white with a black population inching toward 3% (source: U.S. Census).
Passing by City Hall not long ago, I saw signs asking for “Justice for Breonna Taylor,” and I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be to be black in such a predominantly white environment where to speak out might be vilified. Growing up in New York in the ’70s, I had plenty of run-ins with black people, and I lived on the edge of “Spanish Harlem.” But as a white person, I had ways to get away from the neighborhood and city that were unavailable to most black and latino people who lived near me.
COVID-19, while it’s had an effect, is largely causing more of a debate around the efficacy of wearing a mask.
Not to minimize the impact of the virus, but in Kerr County (not Kerrville itself), which has 52,000 residents, we’ve had 692 confirmed cases and 13 deaths. We also have some people now in the hospital. The other day, one of them was in ICU. I’ll gamble to say, however, that most of us don’t know someone locally who’s died of COVID-19. I actually know of only one acquaintance who’s died, though I know three who had close calls.
Mask-wearing. That’s the real controversy.
Suffice it to say that the precautions put into place by health agencies, municipalities and governors — less so by executive order — may have saved lives, but we know that these precautions definitely shuttered businesses. Employees lost jobs and many employees with health plans lost those as well.
Trump uttered somewhat of a truism when he said, “The cure can’t be worse than the problem itself.” But it is true: we’ve been living in a situation that’s almost like cutting off a leg that has gangrene but expecting that leg to still move us from place to place instead of learning to live without the leg.
My take is that Trump trying to keep the economy open to protect people’s livelihood is a calculated acceptance of U.S. deaths not unlike FDR sending young men off to war in 1941. There’s no good solution. There are only bad and worse ones.
New York, New York. My hometown. The death of George Floyd was felt heavily by this urban population, which already experiences admittedly unfair treatment by the police. Mayor Bloomberg, for all his good work, hurt young black men with his indefensible “stop-and-frisk” policy.
Yet NYC Mayor de Blasio — who had no executive experience previously and somehow was elected to a second term — did what no other mayor was able to accomplish in such a short time: he allowed for rampant rioting and also presided over the highest rate of confirmed COVID deaths of any municipality in the country (source: Becker’s Hospital Review).
Certainly, New York’s density contributed to this. But Boston is also fairly dense, with a subway system (lots of touching poles and bodies in close contact) and lots of pedestrian interaction, yet NYC had 2.5 times the death rate.
I can’t begin to express my heartache over what’s happening in NYC and to my friends, but James Altchuler wrote one of the most cogent articles explaining why this once-great city may never recover.
“All politics is local.”Tip O’Neill (D-MA), former Speaker of the House
I’ve rambled and made probably one joke, a questionable one at that.
These are serious times, though we have to keep our sense of humor and also look forward.
To wit: here’s my election prediction as of today:
You can make/change your own electoral college predication at 270ToWin.
My estimates are based on what states are hit hardest economically and related to people losing jobs or revenue. People are angry at President Trump about his response to COVID, and they believe he fueled race riots.
Even so, I’m predicting that when people enter the voting booth they’ll think first about getting their job back or building their business back (better), and they’ll ask themselves, “Who do I trust more to help me get this done?”
They might pick Trump. They might pick Biden. But I think that’s the question.
The New York Times yesterday published a map showing 20 counties around the country that could decide the election, by virtue of deciding their states and electoral college votes.