Evidence matters. it is the foundation of our legal system, and the rock on which science (and all progress) is built. When there is a suggestion that something happened, our first reaction is to call for evidence, and this is the right reaction. Sometimes, however, there is nothing direct. When that happens, we have to figure out a way to use the available evidence to find the truth.
The 2020 election is just such a situation, by and large. There is a suggestion something illegal happened in how the votes were handled, but with some few exceptions, not a lot (at this time) of evidence. I want to talk about one apparent aspect of that, and how even without the proverbial smoking gun, we can still find out some idea of what the truth is.
For the one to three non-bots who read this blog, I figure I need to add some a priori, so you know who I am and where I am coming from.
First, I am not a Trump fan. I cannot really endorse or like someone who presents themselves like he does. I keep hearing stories about how different he is in private, which is nice, and yet the public Trump is just an absolute ass. Second, I am a political conservative – I seek a smaller Federal government (and state, for what its worth), and a lessening of regulations that stifle creativity, business, and America’s ability to compete or dominate on the world stage. And we do dominate when we get out of our own way. Third, and this is crucial, I am not an expert in elections, sociology, or much else connected to how the system works. I am pretty good at seeing patterns, and often really good at understanding how people behave.
I originally expected to not have results of the presidential race election night. Honestly, I don’t think anyone watching the election with any seriousness expected that. Personally, I was hoping to have something by December, but not really before then.
On election night, the outcome was, in a lot of places, looking to be a Trump reelection. Then, overnight, Biden surged ahead. Ok, that is also what I expected. Despite a record 71 million votes, it looked like Biden would receive even more – currently projected at 75 million, surging Biden over the 270 electoral votes needed to win the contest. And that’s that, right?
Well, no. From the day after the election, there were accusations of fraud against the Democratic party. From backdating mail-in ballots to ejecting GOP poll watchers, something seemed to be afoot.
What struck me was the lack of movement on the down-ballot races. That is, as Biden was receiving huge quantities of new votes, there didn’t seem to be a swing in the results of any other races. The Congressional numbers didn’t move at all, for example. Now, how elections are reported makes showing this harder than I would like – historic numbers are hard to find. So, this is all conjecture, but it sure looks like an awful lot of people voted for only the Presidential race, nothing else. That feels off.
Addressing Confirmation Bias
Confirmation bias is a problem when looking at something like this. We all tend to believe things that fit our preconceptions, and disbelieve those that challenge them. For example, if you prefer French cuisine, and an article is published saying that French is, scientifically, the best cuisine, you tend to believe it without much thought. This is a universal trait, and neither good nor bad. It just is.
I tend to believe that people vote down the ballot – that is, they vote for more than the Presidential election. This includes Congress, State Legislatures, Mayors, Water Boards, Dogcatchers, Coroners, and in Illinois, judges. Maybe they don’t vote in every single race, but they vote in more than just the Presidential race. But that could just be a bias. So I decided to check that.
In a wildly unscientific survey of my Facebook circle, I asked how people voted – President only or down-ballot as well.
100% of respondents said they vote down-ballot.
Admittedly, my Facebook circle is a bit more politically active or aware than might be the average. These are not people who only voted because some celebrity told them to. And yes, that may skew things. I think, however, it does show that my expectation that the average voter does vote down-ballot is justified.
Circumstantial Evidence is Still Evidence
American crime dramas have created a lot of false expectations in their viewers. One of those is the way circumstantial evidence is handled. Contrary to how it is often shown, just because it is circumstantial does not mean it is inadmissible. Creating a negative space with evidence is just as damning as the proverbial smoking gun. In fact, smoking guns are often circumstantial – as are things like fingerprints. Using circumstantial evidence is often like drawing a picture by not having the subject in the picture. The famous example is, of course, the vase/faces image below:
We all know this one – is it a face or two faces. The negative space in the middle is vase shaped, but there isn’t a direct picture of a vase. The vase is circumstantial. I chose this to illustrate the problem with circumstantial evidence at the macro level – it can also point to something else – in this case, two faces. This makes the interpretation vital.
Meaning Matters, And Is Too Often Ignored
I know this won’t be popular. Election fraud happens in literally every election. Not all of it is malicious, but it still happens. Does it change the outcome? That is more debatable. There is some suggestion that it has in California, through the practice of ballot harvesting. However, at the national level it doesn’t seem likely.
So, did election fraud happen in the 2020 election? Yes. There is simply too much evidence out there – from missing ballots found in the trash to dead people voting.
Were there deliberate efforts to alter the outcome illegally? Yes. Unlike the ‘Russia’ witch hunt of the last four years, this time we have people signing affidavits, which can subject them to criminal penalty if they lie. The base for the Russia investigation was sent to the press, in order to bypass the kind of penalty people this year face.
Were ballots likely fabricated in multiple jurisdictions to throw the election to Biden? It is very likely. Not only the informal poll above, but actual fraud analytics (Benford’s Law in specific) suggest cheating on the part of the Democrats. Statistical studies also suggest that the odds of ballots going the way they did is almost impossible.
Do I feel comfortable saying that there was rampant election fraud around the 2020 election? Yes.
But, and this is huge, what does that mean? Does it mean the election was stolen? Does it mean humans are excellent at breaking systems? Does it mean Trump managed to alienate such a huge swath of the electorate that all statistical analysis & forensic analysis is now useless? Well, that last is very unlikely.
And again, what does it mean? Just because there is ample evidence that the Democratic Party cheated, and cheated badly, to win an election that they should have had in the bag already does not mean that their cheating was needed. It is still possible that Biden won legitimately. Do I think it likely? Nope. Too much is out there, and it is too damning to just ignore.
For four years conservatives, Republicans, and Trump supporters (and yes, they may overlap, but are separate) have been told that the election of 2016 was ‘stolen’ by Trump and the Russians. A three year, $30 million plus investigation, showed that was a lie. There wasn’t any evidence even before the conclusion of the probe. Nevertheless, the left persisted in tarring us all with Trumps non-existent cheating.
Regardless of your opinion on this, an inescapable fact is that around half of the population has been alienated by this approach. This alienation has been made worse by the accompanying endless accusations of racism, hate, and whatever else they can throw out there. Basically, the left has worked overtime to make sure that everyone not on their team is presented as the enemy.
And now, we have ample reports & evidence of open cheating. And the same left that screamed at us that Trump cheated, are screaming just as loudly that there is nothing to see here. And there is not much chance of that being accepted.
The lesson learned from the last four years is that reality is what you say it is, and I fear we are in for four more years of the same, just from a different direction. Evidence? I wish that mattered.