A voter casts a ballot at the polling place at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on November 3, 2020.

A voter casts a ballot at the polling place at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on November 3, 2020.

On the day after Election Day, what results do we have, what races have yet to be decided and what was your voting experience like?

We ask political experts about what stood out to them on Election Day and how the tallied and yet-to-be tallied ballots could change the region and the country.

Produced by Lauren Markoe


  • Quentin Kidd Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Director, Wason Center for Public Policy, Christopher Newport University; @QuentinKidd
  • Jamil Scott Assistant Professor, Department of Government, Georgetown University; @GUGovt
  • Martin Austermuhle Politics reporter, WAMU; @maustermuhle


  • 12:00:03

    KOJO NNAMDIYou're tuned in to The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5, welcome. Election Day has come and gone, but as many feared, we still don't have results in several key battleground states. Many votes have yet to be counted and an air of uncertainty hangs over the country and the region as ballot counting continues. We do know the outcome of many local races, though. In Virginia Democrat Mark Warner won a third term in the U.S. Senate. At least two of the three Virginia Congressional seats that flipped two years ago from red to blue will remain blue. And in D.C. two of the 24 At Large Council candidates appear to be holding on to substantial leads.

  • 12:00:42

    KOJO NNAMDIWe'll talk about these races and others this hour, but also about the ballot counts still underway and your experience at the polls and watching the returns. Joining us to make sense of what happened and what is yet to happen as uncounted ballots get counted is Quentin Kidd. He Chairs the Department of Government and Directs the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. Quentin Kidd, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:01:10

    QUENTIN KIDDGood to be with you, Kojo.

  • 12:01:12

    NNAMDIQuentin, one area of your expertise is polling. Like 2016, there seems somehow to be a gap between polls leading up to Election Day and what actually happened from the results we have so far. What happened? What did pollsters get right and what did they get wrong? And we understand that there's a difference between polling and offering predictions.

  • 12:01:35

    KIDDRight. You know, I would say first of all the answer is we don't have a lot answers at this point. I mean, I think this is a question that the polling industry is just now starting to try to get its mind around. And a word of caution, we don't actually know what the final results are yet. In 2016 --when we look back in 2016, what we discovered is that in all, but three really, really close states, polling wasn't that off. And so I would argue that, you know, give us a few more days. Let all the final votes be counted and then let's compare the polling with the actual vote count, but to your point, there are some thing that we've got to look at.

  • 12:02:24

    KIDDOne of the things that the polling industry was grappling with this year was how do you account for millions and millions of votes that have been cast weeks before Election Day in your polling in the weeks leading up to Election Day. And I'm not sure that the polling industry writ large has sort of gotten its head around how to deal with that. And then I think another thing that's happening is the electorate is changing. And so polling modeling has to account for a changing electorate. And just to make a note of this, it looks like Donald Trump may have gotten the largest share of non-white votes since John F. Kennedy in 1960. And that means our modeling needs to account for a changing electorate. And I'm not sure that we're doing a good job of modeling what the actual electorate is.

  • 12:03:14

    NNAMDIWhat have we actually learned since 2016? Because when we discuss this a week or so ago, we were told that the polls were pretty accurate about the midterms in 2018 predicting that the Democrats would take back the House. What's the difference?

  • 12:03:32

    KIDDProbably the significant difference between midterms in 2018 and I would say in Virginia the 2017 and 2019 races, we were pretty accurate in that. The volume of turnout, I think. When turnout goes way up, which it's been doing in presidential years, the electorate looks different, who were those people turning out to vote in presidential election years who aren't turning out to vote in midterms or in Virginia off-year elections? And that gets to that modeling question. If it was a bunch of non-college educated voters showing up in presidential election years, but then not in midterms we need to account for that. I think we learned that lesson in 2016. We're now waiting for education. So I think part of it is the size of the electorate in presidential years.

  • 12:04:24

    NNAMDIQuentin, how about state and local polls? Did pollsters who focus on Virginia come close to what actually happened?

  • 12:04:31

    KIDDFor the most part, yes, I mean, everybody in Virginia seemed to be calling Virginia for Trump. They seemed to be calling Virginia for Warner in their polling. However, where they were off is in the magnitude of the Biden -- I'm sorry. They were calling Virginia for Biden, not Trump.

  • 12:04:49


  • 12:04:50

    KIDDThe magnitude of the Biden win wasn't as great as a lot of the polling suggested it would. The magnitude of the Warner win in particular. I mean, it looks like Mark Warner will have won by 11 or so -- a little over 11 percent. Our polling and most of the other polling in the week or two up to Election Day was giving Warner anywhere from a 17 to 21 point win. And so we were over emphasizing the direction of the win in Virginia in the statewide races. In the congressional district races, the over projection of the winner didn't seem to be as severe, but in most cases we're over projecting the winner in Virginia.

  • 12:05:36

    NNAMDIJoining us now is Jamil Scott, a Government Professor at Georgetown University. Jamil Scott, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:05:42

    JAMIL SCOTTThank you for having me.

  • 12:05:44

    NNAMDIYou have also been following the polls closely. How do you think the pollsters faired this time around?

  • 12:05:52

    SCOTTSo I think better than 2016, certainly. I think there are also questions to be considered around -- or rather not questions, but points to be considered how we are thinking about groups. We tend to think about -- or rather folks tend to think about minority groups as being monolithic and they're not, right, and particularly when we think about Latino voters in the United States. I think there was an assumption that Joe Biden would do very well amongst all Latinos.

  • 12:06:32

    SCOTTBut we see a break that Florida looks very different than Arizona, which, you know, has a larger Mexican population and Florida has a larger Cuban population. So I think the lesson moving forward is to think really critically about how groups are being considered and what it means that Latinos are being considered in a sample. I think the question becomes which Latinos.

  • 12:07:01

    NNAMDILet's talk about the African American vote across the country this Election Day. What did turnout look like? Did the Black Lives Matter movement spur African Americans to go to the polls in higher numbers? What about the fact that a Black woman, Kamala Harris, was on a national ticket?

  • 12:07:17

    SCOTTYeah. So I think turnout was as we would expect that Black voters certainly turned out for Biden. And in terms of how Biden did this year, he actually did not do as well as we would expect, right? Given the numbers, Clinton actually did a bit better with Black men and Black women. So his numbers are a bit down in terms of margins this year. However, I think we can think about a couple of factors playing a role here that there was also, you know, along with everything that's happening in the world, i.e. the coronavirus, right, that folks also were dealing with voter suppression in some places. Ballots were up in question in some places.

  • 12:08:16

    SCOTTSo a number of polling places that were open particularly when we're thinking about the south. So I think considering all those factors Biden didn't do so bad. Particularly when, you know, a state like Georgia is up -- is at stake right now. Georgia is a state that we would have assumed by 2016 numbers would have gone to, you know, Trump. And the fact that it's a state that's up for debate or up in question in terms of where the electoral vote will go, I think is an interesting development, but he underperformed Hillary Clinton when it comes to Black voters and voters of color more generally.

  • 12:09:05

    NNAMDIJamil, let's talk about the women's vote for a minute. Did women vote differently from men this election? Do they usually?

  • 12:09:13

    SCOTTSo I think when we think about the gender question we also have to temper it by race here as well. So when we think about the question of how race and gender factor together, white men and white women tend to vote Republican, right? Whereas Black women, Black men, Latinas, Latinos and Asian Americans to some degree, right, but we have better numbers for Black and Latino voters, they tend to vote Democratic. Certainly the case that women of color tend to vote at a higher magnitude than men of color for the Democratic Party, but it still tends to be the case that these are groups that are largely moving in the direction of the Democratic Party.

  • 12:10:04

    SCOTTOur difference here is white men and white women or rather between white women and other women of color. They have consistently voted for Republican candidates. And this year we saw the number for white women voting for Trump go up actually. It actually went down amongst white men.

  • 12:10:29

    NNAMDIJoining us now is Martin Austermuhle. He's an Editor and Reporter covering politics at WAMU 88.5. Martin Austermuhle, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:10:39

    MARTIN AUSTERMUHLEThanks for having me.

  • 12:10:41

    NNAMDIMartin, you had a late night following local contests starting with the At Large D.C. Council races. Tell us about the candidates and what we know about results?

  • 12:10:50

    AUSTERMUHLEYeah. So there were a lot of candidates. I think you mentioned earlier in the show there were 24 and there were 24 on the ballot. Twenty-three of the people we're voting for, because one dropped out before the election. But the point is that's a lot of people to vote for. Everybody had two choices. Anybody could go into a polling place and choose two of the candidates and at the end of the day one person came out on top. That's Robert White. He's an incumbent Democrat. And the general theme in the District is Democrats are going to win, because the electorate is predominantly Democratic.

  • 12:11:17

    AUSTERMUHLESo he was a bit of a shoe-in. But the question was who was going to get that second seat. And it ended up -- now I have to say we don't have complete results. We have about 100,000 votes still outstanding awaiting. They haven't been counted yet. But right now Christina Henderson who used to be an aide to David Grosso who is a current councilmember who is leaving the seat, she is ahead by about 10,000 over Vincent Orange.

  • 12:11:42

    NNAMDIOkay. Got to take a short break. When we come back we will continue this conversation. You can still join it by calling 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:12:12

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about what happened in yesterday's voting and what's likely to happen next with Quentin Kidd who chairs the Department of Government and directs the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. Jamil Scoot is a Government Professor at Georgetown University. And Martin Austermuhle is an Editor and Reporter covering politics at WAMU. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Martin, before I get to the other D.C. seats on the ballot yesterday let me take a few calls first. Here is Kat in Glendale, Maryland. Kat, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:12:50

    KATHi, Kojo and hi to the other guests. Yeah. I'm super frustrated. I just felt like, you know, starting about two weeks ago the mainstream media gang got ahead of themselves with the polling analysis. And I don't think it helped much. I think that between that and certainly Trump's performance in the second presidential debate where he had some decorum I think that as well as the "60 Minutes" interview probably got folks across the fence on the Trump side because they were like, well, he can be presidential. You know, he demonstrated a side that folks hadn't seen in quite some time. So I think there was definitely momentum out of that. And then the projections that he was going -- the projections that they were showing for Biden I think placated some of the Democrats and really rallied the Trump folks.

  • 12:13:49

    KATOf course, Trump has the bully pulpit. He was everywhere. So even though there was critical coverage of a lot of the statements he was making and the appalling fact that he was doing these large events with no mask and corona and all of that, the visibility there was incredible. And that was also spurring on his followers, and just keeping them ramped up and ready and pushing them out there to the polls.

  • 12:14:10

    KATMeanwhile Biden had barely any visibility over the past couple of weeks. And when he did it was these, you know, these car rallies and, of course, they were being responsible for the COVID restrictions. But the optics on that were just horrible and did not help to galvanize Democrats at all. And I think the focus really around the race should be really the drivers around social economics and education not so much a race. And so I think your analysts have been talking about that quite a bit. And just a last comment, every word I heard was red mirage last night. So if you could talk about that a little bit. That would be interesting. Thank you.

  • 12:14:52

    NNAMDICare to comment Quentin Kidd? Can pollsters take things like public appearances into account?

  • 12:14:58

    KIDDYou capture that stuff in questions related to voter enthusiasm or how attached voters are to a particular candidate. I will say something -- two things the caller mentioned. The caller essentially said we focus more on economic issues and things like that over race. In the national exit poll, take those for what you will, 41 percent of voters said that they were better off today than four years ago. And 38 percent said they were about the same.

  • 12:15:29

    KIDDSo there was an underlying momentum in favor of Donald Trump when it came to people's economic situation. And I will say the red mirage refers to the idea that early votes, which were going to be counted after same day votes in most states, early votes were going to be more Democratic votes. Same day votes were going to be more Republican votes. And so we saw this red mirage in Virginia yesterday last night. Until late in the night, Republicans, Donald Trump, you know, Daniel Gade were leading. And yet the AP had called Virginia 37 minutes after the polls closed. And so it looked like a red mirage in Virginia. We wake up in the morning and, of course, the numbers have completely flipped, because a lot of the early votes that came in were Democratic votes.

  • 12:16:19

    NNAMDIHere is Tom in Falls Church, Virginia. Tom, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:16:24

    TOMThanks for taking my call, Kojo. Yeah, I don't like polling in general. I think they did a horrible job this year. If I watched the polls on real clear politics and if you looked at the national polls, congressional polls, they were just horribly inaccurate, and I think fundamentally polls are a disservice to democracy. The pollsters are motivated by money. They feed the info to the cable news, which propagate it. It's used by partisans to suppress the oppositions vote. Like in 2016, it was used to suppress the Trump vote and again this year the 2020 vote. You know, what's the purpose of saying, your guy can't win. Your guy can't win. It's to keep people from showing up at the polls. There's no point in going if your guy can't win. And I even heard a pollster claim -- this is the arrogance of the pollster.

  • 12:17:28

    TOMI saw it on Twitter. He said, if Trump comes close, we know the election is fraudulent, because polls are scientific, and that is nonsense. Polls are statistical and statistics are not science. So I would encourage everybody to lie to pollsters to destroy the industry. Just get rid of it, because it ruining democracy.

  • 12:17:55

    NNAMDIJamil Scott, what do you teach your students about polling?

  • 12:17:59

    SCOTTSo when I teach my students about polling we talk about margin of error. And I think that one of the things we have to consider here is -- so first aggregation, right, and then margin of error. So I'll talk about margin of error first, though. So one of the things you have to pay attention to when you're looking at polls is what is the margin of error here, right? And so when we're thinking about how much or how well a poll might be aggregating some level of truth, right, anything over five points, right, we might have to -- well, we should certainly question what's going on there in terms of how well they're able to capture ideas and what people's truths are in terms of who they're favoring in the moment.

  • 12:18:49

    SCOTTI think the other piece here is aggregation, right, that when we're looking at individual polls, I think, you know, folks have different formulas about how they're generating their polls and some of those are secret. So Trafalgar had Trump as winning this election cycle, but it wasn't very clear about what their formula entailed. So not all pollsters are very clear about what formula goes into their predictions. And then when we think about the aggregation process all of these polls together tend to get us closer to the truth than one individual poll on its own.

  • 12:19:32

    NNAMDIQuentin Kidd, our caller believes that pollsters should be forced out of business.

  • 12:19:38

    KIDDWell, I obviously don't agree with that. I take the chiding however. I think we all can be more humble and be more reflective about what we're doing and try to do it better. I would just say, you know, polling is an art as much as it's a science. And the modeling part of it is the art part of it. And then I finally would say a poll is a snapshot in time. And we need to emphasize that margin of error as much as we emphasize anything, because all we're really saying when we put out a poll is here's a point estimate and there's a band around that point estimate where we think the reality really is somewhere in that band. And we need to emphasize that, you know, that plus or minus five or six more than we emphasize probably the point estimate. And the point estimate gets emphasized a lot, but really that margin of error is important.

  • 12:20:39

    NNAMDIHere now is Irene in Washington D.C. Irene, we only have about a minute left, but go ahead.

  • 12:20:46

    IRENEThank you. My point is sort of repetitive of the point made by the first caller. I don't understand and curious to hear why there is so much focus on race and ethnicity when people don't typically block up vote in a monolith and that there seems to be a real tone deafness on what the issues are for the bulk of the people, which are economic, pocketbook issues. And I think we could get more people, disaffected voters back if you were to focus more on pocketbook issues and less -- not that it's not an issue, but just less focus on race and ethnicity. Thank you.

  • 12:21:32

    NNAMDIJamil Scott, you only have about 30 minutes -- 30 seconds to respond to that.

  • 12:21:36

    SCOTTYou know, I take the point here that, you know, the Democratic Party does -- is what we would call a coalition and they have to do a better job of appealing to all folks, who might be interested or could be interested in that coalition. And that involves thinking about the issues that speak to groups across racial -- across racial groups. But I think one of the things we do have to consider here is that there are real racial divides by how folks tend to turnout in vote. And so those are real.

  • 12:22:11

    NNAMDIOkay. Got to take a short break. When we come back, Martin Austermuhle will tell us a little bit more about what's been going on in D.C. since the election yesterday. You can still call us 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:22:40

    NNAMDIWelcome back. Did you vote for the first time this election? What motivated you to go to the polls? Did you participate or plan to participate in any election-related protests? Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Martin Austermuhle, you talked about the at-large D.C. Council race. There were other seats on the ballot. What happened yesterday?

  • 12:23:04

    AUSTERMUHLEYeah, there were a couple ward-based seats. So, in Ward 2, it looks like Councilmember -- incumbent Councilmember Brooke Pinto, who was first elected in April, is going to get a full term on the council. In Ward 4, Janeese Lewis George, who beat incumbent Brandon Todd in the Democratic primary, has won the seat. So, she's going to become a councilmember. And then in wards 7 and 8, Vincent Gray and Trayon White, both of them Democratic incumbents, didn't face much competition at all. And they're going on to serve on the council for another term.

  • 12:23:32

    NNAMDIHow about the school board at-large race?

  • 12:23:35

    AUSTERMUHLEYeah, the schoolboard was an interesting one. It got really kind of divisive and testy. And this is for a seat -- this is for a schoolboard that doesn't have a lot of power. It can't really do anything independently. It can only do what the state superintendent basically asks it to do. So, it was interesting that there were candidates fighting for these seats.

  • 12:23:52

    AUSTERMUHLEAnd one of the seats was an at-large seat. And there was a pretty spirited battle between Jacque Patterson, who's run for office in the District before. He works for a charter school network in the city, and Mysiki Valentine who was kind of a progressive upstart, very young first-time candidate who was professing to -- you know, he wants to push more funding for traditional neighborhood-based schools and that sort of stuff. But, again, it was kind of this under-the-radar fight, because, again, the schoolboard doesn't really do very much because it lost a lot of power when the District gave control of the schools to the mayor.

  • 12:24:22

    NNAMDIWere the results of the at-large council race surprising? And how might the new members change the direction of the council and its relationship with Mayor Bowser?

  • 12:24:32

    AUSTERMUHLEWell, I think -- I don't – surprisingly, it is a tough one. I think people were going into it just kind of, you know, you could've flipped the coin and guessed who you felt was going to win that second seat that was so contested between all those candidates. Ed Lazear was a kind of progressive stalwart. He's run before. He's well-known in the city. He just racked up a ton of endorsements. He had a lot of money. I think the safe money was that he was going to pull off one of the seats, but he ended up placing fourth behind Marcus Goodwin and Vincent Orange, both who were business-backed candidates, and then Christina Henderson, who is looking to be the winner.

  • 12:25:03

    AUSTERMUHLESo, if she goes to the council, what's interesting is the council is now going to be -- for the first time in a while, is going to be majority female. It's also going to be majority black again for the first time in, I think, five or six years. And in terms of the direction it's going to go in, it remains to be seen. She calls herself a pragmatic progressive, whereas Janeese Lewis George, who's also going to get on the council, calls herself a Democratic socialist.

  • 12:25:27

    AUSTERMUHLEBut what I always like to say is that ideology doesn't matter that much on the council. I mean, it plays into things, but there's more transactional relationships there. I mean, people will vote the way they believe, but also the way that benefits them in the long run and the way they think they can get things done over the long run. Not just, listen, I'm going to do this because I believe it aligns with my ideology. So, I'm not sure we can read the tealeaves just yet.

  • 12:25:51

    NNAMDIMartin, there was also an initiative on the D.C. ballot which voters seem to have liked. Can you talk about that, and also how initiatives have become a strategy for changing laws in the District?

  • 12:26:03

    AUSTERMUHLEYeah. I think the first thing we should mention, because I saw a lot of national publications talking about how D.C. had just decriminalized or legalized magic mushrooms and psychedelic plants. Just want to throw some water on that. It's nothing that exciting. This initiative doesn't legalize anything, it doesn't decriminalize. It just asks -- or basically tells the police department to make enforcement of drug laws against magic mushrooms and psychedelics its lowest priority -- so, basically, asked the police department to look the other way.

  • 12:26:29

    AUSTERMUHLEBut still, it passed with 76 percent. It kind of flew under the radar, because proponents started making moves to get it on the ballot as the pandemic started. So, they had to shift their strategy to get the signatures they needed to get it on the ballot. And, as a consequence, I think a lot of people didn't even notice it was coming. It was on the backside of the paper ballot, so some people didn't even realize it was there until the last minute.

  • 12:26:49

    AUSTERMUHLESo, it's just one of those issues I think people miss. But then when people saw it, they were like, oh, you know, seems fine. And it's worth noting the District has also legalized marijuana at the ballot box. And, yeah, like you mentioned, this is something that happens in a city with a measure of direct Democracy where residents can place measures on the ballot or can take laws that the council passes and put those to a vote.

  • 12:27:13

    AUSTERMUHLEAnd the biggest challenge is just getting that to a ballot. So, getting something on the ballot itself takes gathering tens of thousands of signatures from voters, which is very hard, and takes a lot of time and money. So, the folks behind this initiative on magic mushrooms have gotten very good at this. They're the same ones who did the marijuana initiative. So, again, they put it to the people, the people voted, and that's the story.

  • 12:27:36

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. Are you unsure whether your ballot was received or counted? Did you sit out yesterday's election? And, if so, why? Let us know, 800-433-8850. Martin, one of your other big takeaways from yesterday has to do with mail-in voting. What are your thoughts?

  • 12:27:56

    AUSTERMUHLEI mean, mail-in voting was huge in the District. Now, consider that this is the place that, two years ago and four years ago, everybody would go vote in person, because it's what was available. It was what everybody was used to. Now, the big change was that people were voting early instead of just on Election Day, but it was always in person.

  • 12:28:11

    AUSTERMUHLEStarting this year, because of the pandemic, there was a huge and sudden shift to mail voting. For the primary, the District asked people to request absentee ballots, which they did, and that didn't go all that well. So, for the general election, this November, the District just went all in and decided to send every registered voter a mail ballot, and that's how people could vote. And people voted via mail in huge numbers. We're talking 200,000-plus people returned their ballots either at a ballot drop box or in the mail.

  • 12:28:38

    AUSTERMUHLEAnd we did the math, and that's roughly -- there were about 312,000 people who voted in 2016. So, if you get 200,000 of those votes coming in the mail, it's a huge proportion for something that had just been implemented over the course of a couple of months.

  • 12:28:53

    NNAMDIHere now is Jimmy in Annapolis, Maryland. Jimmy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:29:00

    JIMMYHi. Thanks for taking my call, Kojo. I was wondering, generally, about how the polls are conducted. I'm only 25, but I've never been asked to participate in one, so I'm wondering kind of like how they're conducted and through what mediums they're conducted through. Thank you.

  • 12:29:15

    NNAMDIQuentin Kidd?

  • 12:29:17

    KIDDYeah, so for election polling, like what people have been looking at for the last eight weeks or so, those would be what we would call list polls. So, you would look at a list of registered voters in whatever state you're doing. In my case, it would be Virginia. And you would draw a random sample from that list. So, the surveys of the last six to eight weeks in Virginia would be surveys of registered voters. And then you would screen your calls to talk to likely voters, people who said they're likely to vote.

  • 12:29:49

    KIDDAnd you might gauge that by some measure of enthusiasm, commitment to a candidate, you know, paying attention to the elections coming up, things like that. Look, there are four-and-a-half million registered voters in Virginia. If we talk to 15 -- if we try to call 15,000 to 20,000 of those and we end up talking to 800 to 1,000, that can -- you know, you just do that quick math in your head, and you can realize the odds of any one person being called are pretty slim. But that's what makes that random sample work. When it works well, it works really well. And when you get your random sample off, you know, then we overestimate the winners a little bit, like we did in Virginia this year.

  • 12:30:34

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Jimmy. Here is Rachel in Silver Spring, Maryland. Rachel, your turn.

  • 12:30:41

    RACHELThank you so much for taking my call. When I turned on WAMU this morning, the first thing I heard was a woman explaining that the reason she and all the Republicans she knows vote Republican is because they don't want the country to go socialist. And I really wish that the moderator had asked her, first of all, if she's ever read the Democratic platform. Second of all, if she could define socialism.

  • 12:31:13

    RACHELBecause, like so many people, I'm absolutely shocked by how the vote is going. But if there really are all these people who honest-to-God believe that the centrist Joe Biden is turning the country socialist, then they either don't know what socialism means, or I don't know what. I'm just flabbergasted to hear that. Then I should say I went to a socialist youth group when I was growing up. So, that shows you what socialist means.

  • 12:31:46

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Okay.

  • 12:31:48

    RACHELAnd I really think that most Americans don't. And I'm just kind of scared, and I would ask the pollster, if they -- when they talk to people, if they get a sense if people really know what they're talking about, I guess, would be the best way I can put it.

  • 12:32:10

    NNAMDI(overlapping) I guess I'll put this question both to Quentin Kidd and Jamil Scott. First, you, Quentin Kidd.

  • 12:32:16

    KIDDThere are studies that have asked people if they know what socialism is, if they know what various economic arrangements are. We have not done any of those recently. I will say on the testing whether people know what they're talking about or not, you know, when we're polling, we're polling opinions and views. And so, it typically isn't our job to say, you know, all right, you have this view, but do you really know whether that view is accurate or not? We try to stay away from that part of it.

  • 12:32:44

    NNAMDIWell, Jamil Scott, you know, there are people who believe in scientific socialism. There are Democratic socialists, and there are countries in Europe that are described as social Democracies. What do you teach your students about this?

  • 12:32:59

    SCOTTSo, when I'm talking to my students about this topic, we largely get into how, you know, the United States has a two-party system, so we have Democrats and Republicans. But there's also variation in the question of ideology. And so, people get the two teams, right, Democrats and Republicans, pretty well. But the question of how ideology plays out tends to get a bit muddled, right.

  • 12:33:26

    SCOTTPeople tend to take cues from the party and the parties that they're close to. So, these conversations around -- you know, this rhetoric around what the other side is doing largely comes from, you know, who people are taking cues from, whether that be the media they watch, which has become increasingly polarized, or what they read, which is also becoming increasingly polarized.

  • 12:33:49

    SCOTTSo, I say that to say that folks get, you know, two-party differential, but they don't necessarily get where they stand on ideology. Some people are what we call sophisticates, which means that they have a strong understanding of the ideological spectrum, but not everybody does. So, it's just something to be mindful of.

  • 12:34:12

    NNAMDIHere is Lena in Maryland. Lena, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:34:18

    LENAHi, Kojo. I was an active voter. I’ve voted both sides of the ticket, you know. I vote for the qualified candidate, not along party lines. And my question today is, in light of 2016's election and in light of the election that we are witnessing today, it seems like the Democrats have lost focus and they are a wildly swinging pendulum that will err on whichever side of an argument that they think is on color lines. And I think that's where we're losing a lot of candidates.

  • 12:35:02

    LENAAnd on the Republican side, when I look at it, we have definitely elected someone and a party culture that flaunts the whole (word?) democratic process in our faces. And, as citizens, at least for this citizen, it's offensive that you're going to do whatever you want to do because there's no real rule that says you can't. But they've taught us for years that this is our process, and that we should follow it and respect it and hold it dear? But here it is, falling apart, because the party of principals, our Republican leadership, has lost theirs. So, I have two sons and neither of them voted, because they can't stand either party. And it's heartbreaking.

  • 12:35:55

    NNAMDIWell, Quentin Kidd, earlier in our conversations about the election, we talked about how it seemed that young voters were more motivated this year than in years past because of issues like climate change. But here you have Lena saying that her sons didn't vote because they don't feel either party makes much of a difference. To what extent is that sentiment widespread?

  • 12:36:17

    KIDDYou know, I think both of those things are happening simultaneously. I think people -- young voters do seem to be really engaged right now. But here's where those two things disconnect -- or connect, I'm sorry. Young people being really engaged, and then young people being really turned off by the two parties. What's engaging young voters right now is a negative antipathy toward Donald Trump, for the most part, but a general antipathy toward the larger political climate in the United States, generally, and real concern about things like climate change and issues like that.

  • 12:36:52

    KIDDAnd I think that's where the connection goes to the callers' two sons, who are so turned off by both parties they didn't vote. It's that antipathy. That antipathy either encourages voting and engagement, or it encourages total disconnection. And so, the two things can be happening. Both are right. Both are happening, in the sense that they're, you know -- people are seeing the same thing in two different ways. And for some people, it causes them to vote. Other people it causes them to just walk away.

  • 12:37:23

    NNAMDIJamil Scott, Lena called from Maryland, and we haven't talked a great deal about Maryland. It may not have had as many competitive races as D.C. and Virginia, but voters elected a successor to legendary Congressman Elijah Cummings, and decided two ballot questions. Can you fill us in?

  • 12:37:41

    SCOTTSure. So, what we saw is, you know, a pretty easy victory for Kweisi Mfume, even though he didn't raise as much money as his opponent, Kimberly Klacik. And we also saw this question about the gambling in Maryland, and voters decided to move forward -- or rather that ballot initiative received a good deal of support. So, betting will be legal in the United -- not in the United States, sorry, in Maryland.

  • 12:38:22

    SCOTTAnd, in addition, one of the things that'll be up for consideration is -- well, or was up for consideration -- or one of the things that people -- folks are thinking about is redistricting, right, and what happens for 2022.

  • 12:38:42

    NNAMDISure. Maryland will redraw congressional districts in a special session in Maryland next summer, and Republican Governor Larry Hogan will have a say, as well. What could that mean, Jamil, for the congressional races in 2022 and beyond?

  • 12:38:58

    SCOTTSo, that's a really great question, because how congressional lines are drawn have real implications for, not just who is likely to vote, but also who is likely to run. So, we know some folks are more likely to think about who is amongst the constituency in terms of, all right, what's the differential amongst Democrats to Republicans? Has a woman been elected in the District before? And are we creating a District that has an incumbent or not? Is it technically a free District? So, all of those things matter for who might decide to run next time, right. And so how we draw lines has real implications for how we think about representation.

  • 12:39:47

    NNAMDIMartin Austermuhle, yesterday, several groups organized a protest and election watch party at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House. WAMU's reporters were covering it late into the night. What happened there, and do we know how many people showed up?

  • 12:40:01

    AUSTERMUHLEWell, it was largely peaceful. It started as kind of a, you know, bit of -- I wouldn't say celebration, but kind of a very festive atmosphere. There was a big truck with a go-go band on it so there was music, there was dancing, that sort of stuff. And as the night proceeded, people were watching the returns come in.

  • 12:40:16

    AUSTERMUHLEAnd my reporter -- my colleagues Jenny Gathright and Margaret Barthel were out there. And, again, largely peaceful. It didn't seem like things were going in any one direction. At some point, part of the crowd split off and kind of did more of the traditional protests against, you know, District facilities. They went up to a police station, that sort of stuff. There were a couple of incidents and some arrests. There was a stabbing down at New York Avenue and 14th Street. There's some conflict over the details...

  • 12:40:42

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Yeah, because yesterday, there was what appears to be a false report from a local news organization that -- I guess that's the incident you're referring to in the District, people affiliated with Black Lives Matter had stabbed men from Proud Boys, the far-right, or extremist organization. What do we now know about this?

  • 12:41:04

    AUSTERMUHLEYeah, I mean, that's what was initially reported this morning by two TV stations. They quickly backtracked after some criticism, because people pointed out that Black Lives Matter, like, how could they prove that there was any affiliation with the group? Also, Black Lives Matter is not a membership organization, so how do you identify, you know, people associated with it? So, they backtracked and said that they were just saying what police had told them.

  • 12:41:27

    AUSTERMUHLESo, now, there's some questions about, not necessarily the victims. I think it's established that these were supporters of the president, members of the Proud Boys group, but rather who the aggressors in this case were, because police haven't found them yet. They're still looking for them, but they're no longer identifying them as, quote-unquote, "members of Black Lives Matter."

  • 12:41:46

    NNAMDIOkay. Back to the telephones now. Here now is Chris in Silver Spring, Maryland. Chris, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:41:55

    CHRISHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call.

  • 12:41:57

    NNAMDIYou're welcome.

  • 12:41:58

    CHRISI want to build on the earlier question about socialism and this Republican fear of socialism which, in this case, seems to apply only to the option for providing healthcare rather than socializing the full economy. So, I want to know if these voters are afraid of living in a fascist society, which Trump, to me, blatantly represents and has exhibited through many of his actions. His desire for authoritarian power, this ultra-nationalist messaging. And then forcibly suppressing the opposition which, in this case, the Republican Party's been doing this for a while, suppressing people's ability to vote.

  • 12:42:40

    NNAMDIAnd what is the question you want the answer to, Chris?

  • 12:42:44

    CHRISYeah, it's -- I'm dumbfounded by the fear of socialism out there, but not noticing what's really happening in society, especially with this president, which is the move to a fascist society, where concentrating power and denying the opposition its ability to function is paramount.

  • 12:43:08

    NNAMDIWell, let me break it into two separate questions. The first I'll put to you, Quentin Kidd. To what extent is the fear of socialism based on opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the notion of socialized medicine, which exists in quite a few countries in Europe?

  • 12:43:24

    KIDDYeah, I think there's a strong leakage between the term socialism -- however the receiver of that defines it -- and association with Republican politics and opposition to things like Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act and other policies that Republicans would be opposed to, you know, some sort of more control over the economy. So, I don't think it makes sense, necessarily, to somebody who may study socialism as a political and economic form of governance and the rhetoric and the sort of psychological connections that voters make with their partisan identities and the issues they care about.

  • 12:44:11

    KIDDAnd so, in some ways, it's a meaningless term when it's bandied around in our electoral politics. But it does mean something to the people that it energizes.

  • 12:44:23

    NNAMDIDoes that, Jamil Scott, apply to fascism, also, for those people like Chris, who accuse President Trump of taking the nation towards fascism?

  • 12:44:35

    SCOTTSo, I don't think the idea of fascism is even as salient in American politics. I think it goes back, again, to where people are taking our cues -- where people are taking their cues from, rather. And so, because we don't talk about that concept, I don't think it'll be in the political lexicon of folks in terms of how they're thinking about politics in the moment.

  • 12:45:03

    SCOTTSo -- and also, when you think about the term fascism, it has a particular connotation, right. And folks might harken back to Nazism as a close neighbor there. And so, I think that has a particular connotation for folks. And so, using that terminology might turn people off in a way that talking about socialism doesn't. Given, you know, previous history of the U.S. having a red scare, you know, being concerned about the direction of where the country is going.

  • 12:45:50

    SCOTTSo, again, I think we can take it back to how and where people are taking their cues. And, you know, there are pundits who are using that terminology to describe, you know, what's happening in American politics today. But they aren't necessary talking about the idea of fascism, and I think they would get pushback if they did.

  • 12:46:09

    NNAMDIWell, Quentin Kidd, in the final 30 seconds we have, how much longer are we going to have to hold our breath to finally understand when this presidential election is over?

  • 12:46:20

    KIDDIt may be another 24, 48 hours, because it looks like it is going to all come down to Pennsylvania. And they have tons and tons of votes to still process and count, even as they're working, you know, like crazy to get it all done. So, it may be another day or so before we know. And then we've got to go through some recounts. It looks like Wisconsin's going to go into a recount.

  • 12:46:39

    NNAMDIOh, yeah, big time. Quentin Kidd, Jamil Scott, Martin Austermuhle, thank you all for joining us. Our post-election show was produced by Lauren Markoe. Coming up tomorrow, WAMU's podcast 51st has been discussing the District's history and the fight for statehood. We talk to its host about what that effort might look like after the votes are counted.

  • 12:47:03

    NNAMDIPlus, the pandemic has left many of us missing family and friends, but some have found furry companions to fill the void. We'll talk about the rise in pet adoptions in this region. That all starts tomorrow, at noon. Until then, thank you for listening and stay safe. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

Topics + Tags

Most Recent Shows