While President Donald Trump is desperately searching for conspiracy theories and excuses to explain his slipping grip on the White House, the count continues in the major swing states, where this week’s election may go to former Vice President Joe Biden.
The president again claimed on Thursday night that the election was stolen from him by officials involved in fraud, but did not present any evidence to support this claim. His campaign has filed several lawsuits in an attempt to stop the vote counting in the states not called, although these lawsuits appear to have little evidence to date.
Trump had an impressive early leadership in Georgia – which has not elected a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 – and the campaign was optimistic about its chances in Arizona despite an early Fox News forecast that the state would go to Biden.
However, as more and more absentee ballots were counted, Biden has been steadily feeding on the incumbent’s leadership in Georgia and extending his lead in Arizona.
The coronavirus pandemic means that there is an unprecedented number of absentee ballots to be counted, and Trump’s constant and groundless criticism of the postal ballot process is one reason why these votes have dropped disproportionately for Biden.
The fact that so many come from Democratic strongholds in the cities and suburbs exacerbates the pain for Trump, especially in Georgia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
There will be even more salt in Trump’s wound when he learns that many of the votes that could still dash his hopes for a second term come from areas formerly represented by the late Senator John McCain and Congressman John Lewis, two legendary legislators who, to the horror of the Washington, D.C. establishment, have been subject to repeated attacks by the President.
McCain was an Arizona senator for nearly 40 years and twice unsuccessfully ran for president. A former prisoner of war in the Vietnam War, McCain was widely respected and always present on Capitol Hill, although his reputation suffered a severe blow in his later career thanks to his militant foreign policy, his unwavering support for the devastating war against Iraq and his subsequent proposals for military action against Iran.
Trump attacked McCain on several occasions when he exercised his control over the GOP, although he feared this might cost him support in Arizona. On Friday morning in Arizona, Biden was still just ahead of Trump, on his way to becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1996.
As is well known, the president rejected McCain’s military record with the words: “He was a war hero because he was captured… I like people who are not captured.”
McCain died of an inoperable brain tumor in 2018, but even in the final stages of his illness he came back to Congress to vote against Trump’s proposed health care reform, which brought him even more presidential anger. Trump told McCain: “Let Arizona down” with his vote.
Trump held on to his resentment even after McCain’s death. “He was terrible,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “I’m not a fan of John McCain, and that’s okay.”
In Georgia, Biden Trump’s very close lead is approaching and hopes to be the first Democratic candidate to turn the state blue since President Bill Clinton. Absent postal votes from urban areas including Atlanta and its sprawling suburbs seem to push Biden over the line there.
Many of these votes come from Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton Counties around Atlanta. The 5th District of Georgia, represented by Lewis for 17 terms in the House of Representatives, covers this area. More than 70 percent of the votes from these three districts have so far gone to Biden, with more than 80 percent going to DeKalb and Clayton.
Trump attacked Lewis after the civil rights activist accused him of being an illegitimate president. “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time getting his district in order and helping it, which is in a terrible state and falling apart (not to mention crime), instead of falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad,” tweeted Trump.
The president was widely criticized for attacking Lewis, who was heavily involved in the civil rights movement and who, during his fight for equal rights, had been a major contributor to the election results.