Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. What Happens on Wednesday, November 9?


NOVEMBER 4, 2016


Four days to go.

Exact Change Today has been covering this election for about the last year and a half, and it’s down to four days left.  I still can’t believe it.  And, unlike the way I felt a week ago, I’m still not sure how all of this is going to turn out.

Tuesday, November 8 will likely start as the kind of Election Day that we’ve all gotten used to — hints and insinuations from network anchors who know the results of exit polls but can say nothing until the polls actually close in those states.  We know the drill.

But the big question is what will happen on Wednesday, November 9.  I can see one of five scenarios happening:

We have a new President.

The most likely scenario.  This is presuming that the margins of victory in key states are sufficient to keep the losing candidate from being able to say that the election is rigged.

We don’t have a new President…yet.

This is one possible scenario, especially given Donald Trump’s rise in the polls after the FBI’s announcement last week that e-mails that may impact the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy have been uncovered.  If the election is that close and there are enough states whose outcome is uncertain by Wednesday morning, we may have an extended period we won’t know who actually won.  Which leads to…

Donald Trump refuses to concede the election.

This could happen, given his big talk during the third Presidential debate.  If he wants to maintain credibility with his troops and if any states are still close enough to give him a realistic path to victory, I can definitely see him defying the pressure to concede so that he can be perceived as standing tall even if everyone else knows that he has been defeated.  But I suspect that he can only get away with this tactic as long as a path to victory is plausible.  Otherwise, the impact to the Trump brand could become very negative.

There’s violence at the polls.

The most horrifying scenario.  But with Trump’s talk of “rampant voter fraud” (an absolute lie) and his urging for his followers to act as “poll monitors” on Election Day, he may be seen as encouraging his supporters in “open carry” states to strap a gun to their hip and discourage likely Clinton voters from entering the polling place.  Let’s hope it doesn’t happen.  But it might.

There’s violence after the winner is announced.

Not out of the question.  Too many supporters of Trump’s have said on camera that there will be rioting in the streets if Trump “has the election stolen from him.”  Even if that idea about the election is factually incorrect, if there is a perception among Trump supporters that their candidate has been treated unfairly, that rage may spill out into the streets.  And that outcome may damage the Republican Party for generations to come.

I’ve never seen a Presidential election where these five scenarios are all in play.  But I don’t think that any one of us has seen a Presidential election like this…ever.  Let’s hope that there is a peaceful transition of power.  But given what we have gone through these past 18 months, there’s not necessarily any guarantee of that happening.

Four days to go.