The 2020 presidential election is a cliffhanger, and we may not know the final results for days. But Democratic nominee Joe Biden has pulled ahead in the critical states of Michigan and Wisconsin with plenty of blue-leaning mail ballots to count. Because he won Arizona as well as Nebraska's second congressional district and leads narrowly in Nevada, President Trump has probably been defeated. The real question is whether Biden adds Pennsylvania and Georgia to the tally or whether we are looking at the closest outcome in the Electoral College since 2000. Even if Trump were to wave a magic wand to stop ballot counting everywhere, at the moment he would still lose. Biden will win more votes than any presidential candidate in history and could still end up winning nationally by 6 points or more.
In a functioning country with responsive institutions, it would be time for Democrats to pop the champagne. But the United States' anachronistic institutions grant a minority of the population outsized power, and even though Democrats held onto the House of Representatives, Republicans have a very good chance of hanging on to a bare majority in the Senate. This means any Biden agenda other than ruling through executive orders is basically out the window.
Trump's fervent attempts to spread misinformation about the election results are being described as a nightmare scenario come true. But I don't know how to describe a Biden presidency facing a hostile Senate and a 6-3 Supreme Court majority as anything but a nightmare as well.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will feel rightly emboldened that his endless hardball maneuvering has delivered the courts to the GOP for a generation, with the threat of court expansion now at least temporarily in the rearview. If the Roberts court invalidates the Affordable Care Act, Biden and the Democrats will have no legislative route to a fix. Congress will be unable to pass laws protecting reproductive rights if Amy Coney Barrett and her pals overturn or gut Roe v. Wade. The Court is also likely to dramatically constrain Biden's ability to direct the executive branch, setting the stage for multiple constitutional crises. You should go ahead and Google the GOP's long and now very plausible plot to dismantle what they call "the administrative state. "
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