Election 2020 Protests Nevada

A supporter of President Donald Trump holds a cardboard cutout of the president during a protest of the election outside of the Clark County Election Department, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in North Las Vegas. 

There's a saying that goes: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Nobody can say exactly where the term comes from, but it's a rule of thumb because we've all experienced it. It's fashionable in politics these days to immediately jump to the conclusion that the world was out to get us. You don't need to wait on the proof.

When you come up short, it’s open political season for the blame game.

Colorado Democrats can be proud: They put John Hickenlooper in the U.S. Senate and gave Joe Biden a huge win here. The party added another seat to its majority in the state Senate, as well.

Colorado Republicans are relieved the bleeding in the statehouse wasn't as bad as they expected: Holding your ground is still falling behind when your party remains the minority.

Nationally, Democrats are relieved that an inch is as good as a mile. Trump had taken three states by inches four years ago. Que sera sera.

What we must appreciate is the cost of division. I saw a meme I liked, and I never like memes: "I'm going to quit politics so I can be friends with half my friends again."

Lincoln faced a country more deeply divided in 1861, as he gave his inauguration speech on the eve of war:

"We are not enemies, but friends," said Honest Abe, as Trump calls him. "We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."

Progressives should come out of this election mindful if not humbled. Expected gains Democrats couldn't land in slowly bluing swing states rest on the back of Democrats' old nemesis: overreach.

Moderate Biden couldn't shake the far-left shadow, because his party can't quit giving their opponents ammunition. A vote for Biden was still a vote for the Green New Deal, with his vice president an original champion. 

Republicans are going to take shots at socialism, but the shots don't have to be layups. "Defund the police" changed the tenor on racial justice. That was overreach from the higher moral ground.

We have to rebuild trust in democracy, by laying off the conspiracies. I once had an ongoing tiff with the Mutual UFO Network — it's a long story — so I can tell you conspiracists see conspiracies. It's what they do.

Joey Bunch : "I have some ideas about what's in front of us, based on what history, smart people and consistent polling tell me, in that order. Donald Trump needs his 2016 dominoes to fall again, effectively run the table, and I don't see it. U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner goes down with the good ship and crew of the S.S. Trump."

The courts deal with reality.

In 2000, the Supreme Court voted 5-4, along partisan lines, to end the Florida recount. George W. Bush led by just 537 votes, but that was enough to collect Florida’s 25 Electoral College votes and win the White House.

There was a legal foundation to stand on.

The ballots had been counted once, dimpled chads and all. To determine voter intent in one county differently than another, the high court said, violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause to treat every vote equally.

You might not agree, but that’s legal reasoning a Republican could stand on.

Because you lost and don’t like it isn’t.

Trump’s lawyers will have to make their case out of something, arguments that could be heard by judges Trump and Senate Republicans seated. 

Call me Pollyanna, but just because Trump appointed a slew of federal judges who might get handed his case along its route doesn’t mean they've sold their soul, we must hope. If the case has merit, that’s their job to find it. Judges, more than anybody, care about the stains on their reputation.

If you’re a journalist or a pollster, the stains are starting to look like barbecue sauce on a hungry man’s T-shirt.

Pollsters and the press again missed the signs of a tightening race in the closing days, because they were too caught up in the turnout and legal threats to process, explained Floyd Ciruli, the director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver.

All of October's biggest surprises hurt Trump: contracting COVID-19 on Oct. 1, to Rudy Guiliani’s laptop and “Borat” debut in the same week, to the stock market nosedive the week before the election. That came after a disastrous first debate for the president amid a stream of bad news about his personal finances.

“What’s amazing about all these things is how little impact they seemed to have, given that most people had made up their mind,” said Fritz Mayer, the dean of DU's Josef Korbel School for International Studies. “The extent of the division is extraordinary.” 

I listened to Fritz and Floyd chat on Zoom the day after the election.

A systemic problem with polling, Floyd said, is measuring Trump voters. The president called them his silent majority. Pollsters often wind up talking to voters who fit the demographic mold of a presumed Trump voter — where they live, their education level, their age and so forth, Floyd said. That will be difficult to fix, but the industry has to do it.

What has Biden won, other than evicting the Trump family from the White House?

The 46th president inherits a country so divided and brittle he very well could be the national leader who presides over the collapse of American democracy.

I don’t know what that looks like, but it doesn’t look good, whether we get there by malice or stupidity.

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