The end of the 2020 presidential election has been a series of surprises for many people, but not Sen. Bernie Sanders. Last week, Sanders appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to discuss the tight race, predicting how President Donald Trump would declare a premature and illegitimate victory. He turned out to be eerily correct.
"Here is my worry," Sanders told Fallon. "What polls show, and what studies have shown, is that, for whatever reason, Democrats are more likely to use mail-in ballots. Republicans are more likely to walk into polling booths on Election Day. It is likely that the first votes that will be counted will be those people who came in on Election Day, which will be Republican. And here is the fear – and I hope everybody hears it – it could well be... that, at 10 o'clock on election night, Trump is winning in Michigan, he's winning in Pennsylvania, he's winning in Wisconsin, and he gets on the television and he says 'Thank you Americans for re-electing me. It's all over, have a good day.'"
thinking about this video of bernie sanders talking about mail-in votes pic.twitter.com/b6WpiIlwcs— hannah (@hannahhycho) November 4, 2020
Sanders was not the only one to share this fear early on. Journalists went to great lengths trying to explain that tallying the results of this election would take even longer than usual, as summed up in this explainer from The Associated Press. On HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver dedicated the better part of an episode to this subject as well.
Like many of those other commentators, Sanders feared that Trump would use the confusion of this process to claim an illegitimate victory. He went on: "But then the next day, and the day following, all of those mail-in ballots start getting counted, and it turns out that Biden has won those states."
"And Trump says, 'See? I told you the whole thing was fraudulent. I told you those mail-in ballots were crooked. And we're not going to leave office.' So that is a worry that I and a lot of people have," he went on.
As a matter of fact, Trump did falsely and illegitimately claim victory in the early hours of Monday morning, though so far news outlets are not giving much credence to this declaration. Meanwhile, his campaign is filing lawsuits in the states where absentee ballots remain to be counted, trying to force the election officials to stop counting, despite the fact that this is a legal and well-established process.
However, at the time of this writing, Biden is leading overall, with 238 electoral college votes against Trump's 213. Whichever candidate can secure 270 votes or more will be the next president of the United States.