Cal Poly political science professor calls Electoral College 'outdated' as presidential race remains unsettled

Posted at 10:00 AM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 13:01:25-05

Cal Poly political science professor and local political analyst Mike Latner weighed in on the early results of the presidential election on KSBY Daybreak the morning after Election Day.

Latner said he was not surprised by the early returns based on pre-election polling. Now, Latner says the results of the presidential election hinge largely on uncounted ballots in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

"These states made the terrific error, frankly, of waiting to count their mail-in ballots and this is what we are all waiting for now around the country," Latner said.

Late Tuesday night, Joe Biden addressed his supporters as he took a narrow lead over the president in the Electoral College and a more sizeable lead in the popular vote.

"Joe Biden gave a pretty typical response telling his supporters to wait," Latner said.

At the White House, President Trump falsely claimed he had won the election early Wednesday morning with millions of ballots still to be tallied.

"President Trump gave a very atypical, low-rent, sort of autocratic response, declaring victory before the votes are counted - unprecedented in modern American history."

Latner says patience will be necessary as everyone awaits the final vote counts.

"America is going to have to wait a couple of days and the lawsuits might require us to wait a couple of weeks," Latner said.

As Latner watches returns come in, he says Georgia's results are surprising because Democrats are doing unusually well there. He believes Arizona and Nevada are still too close to call in the presidential race and Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania may ultimately determine the fate of this election.

"All eyes are going to be on Pennsylvania and Michigan in particular because they still have so many outstanding votes. We're talking about over 250,000 votes just in Philadelphia County alone in Pennsylvania," Latner said. "Thirty-five percent of the vote in Michigan remains to be counted so we've got to be patient and we've got to count the votes. That's the way democracy works."

Latner expects most of the vote to be counted by the end of the week in Michigan and Pennsylvania, however, pending lawsuits may delay the final result in the race for the White House.

"You're going to have attorneys, armies of attorneys from both parties fighting over every ballot," Latner said. "In the case of the GOP, this has been a multi-million dollar effort that was planned from the beginning to try to restrict the electorate and to try to shape it to their advantage."

Latner says whether the election results go before the Supreme Court will depend on if there is a viable case to be argued. He says the legal teams for the Republican and Democratic parties will be focused on finding issues with ballots that are yet to be counted.

"They'll try to challenge the votes that are coming in where there's a question about the postmark or there's a question about a change in election law between what the state legislature has tried to do and what the courts have done in order to allow people to have their votes counted during a pandemic and expand access to vote by mail for example."

Latner believes the delay in deciding this election could have been largely avoided if all states had counted their mail-in ballots early and not waited until Election Day to begin tabulating the results.

"Frankly, I think around the world, the rest of the world is looking at the United States and wondering why in the heck are we randomly paying so much attention to a few states and a few counties when the popular vote winner is fairly clear. This is a function of the Electoral College which is now an outdated institution."

Latner says polling averages were off.

"I think Democrats thought they were going to do much better than they did, particularly in the Senate. It looks like they are still one seat behind and Republicans will maintain control of the Senate," Latner said referencing Senate election results as of early Wednesday morning.

In the House of Representatives, Democrats look to hold onto their majority according to initial returns.