A Democratic analytics firm is warning that the results of the presidential election may swing wildly days after election night as an unprecedented number of mail-in and absentee ballots are counted.
Josh Mendelsohn, CEO of Hawkfish, explained his firm’s election night projections in an appearance on “Axios on HBO” in a clip released on Tuesday. Mendelsohn said that a “red mirage” may take place on election night showing an overwhelming victory for President Trump before Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the election days later.
“The reason we talk about a red mirage is in fact because we believe that on election night, we’re going to see Donald Trump in a stronger position than the reality actually is,” Mendelsohn said. “We are sounding an alarm and saying that this is a very real possibility, that the data is going to show on election night an incredible victory for Donald Trump.
“That is likely to be what we see when every legitimate vote is tallied, and we get to that final day which will be Sunday after Election Day, it will, in fact, show that what happened on election night was exactly that, a mirage,” he continued. “It looked like Donald Trump was in the lead and he fundamentally was not when every ballot gets counted.”
Hawkfish estimates that a record 40% of registered voters will send their ballots through the mail this election cycle, roughly doubling the number that did so in 2016, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Several states and localities that have held primaries amid the pandemic have struggled under an avalanche of mail-in ballots, a potential bellwether, or what is to come in a national election.
In New York City, election officials discarded over 84,000 ballots, more than 20% of those sent in, for defects such as a missing signature or for a late arrival during its primary. In many cases, the ballots themselves were to blame, or the prepaid envelopes sent with them, or the process of voting by mail. Election results for several races were delayed for well over a month.
The Trump administration has been warning about the risks of universal mail-in ballots for months.
Mendelsohn hinted that the election chaos may cause a repeat of the presidential election saga of 2000 between former Vice President Al Gore and President George W. Bush. A recount of votes in Florida triggered a 36-day delay in election results. This time around, however, what happened in Florida may happen across several battleground states with tight margins.
“So a state like Pennsylvania or Florida, it’s in play by just a couple points, and that’s what tips it in one direction or another,” Mendelsohn said. “If you were to essentially average battleground state polling, Joe Biden appears to be ahead by about 8%. And so if you have a number of ballot challenges in a state like that, as big as it is, as large as the population is, as diverse as the population is, it could make a really big difference over those next ten days.”
“When you start accounting for that in your modeling, you see that 8% lead kind of whittle down a little, a little bit more, and a little bit more. We might have the results saying something on the evening of Nov. 3 that it will not say the evening of Nov. 10,” he added.