The Note: Delayed results bring biggest stress test yet

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The TAKE with Rick Klein

If this is the last test that President Donald Trump poses to American institutions — a final attempt to contravene norms and fabricate facts to further a political mission, using the powers of the presidency — it’s going to be a doozy.

Friday dawns with no new states having been projected, after a day marked by tension and occasional disbelief.

Margins have narrowed in all the remaining battlegrounds — those where Trump is leading the vote count, as well as those where former Vice President Joe Biden holds an edge. Biden still has a clearer path to victory, with the possibility that he wins narrowly or still relatively easily in the Electoral College.

The waiting for final tallies is normal. The moment is decidedly not.

Even the results of the election could seem small compared to the extraordinary declarations of the president. His baseless allegations about vote fraud and attempted election-rigging pour rhetorical gasoline on a slow-burning nation — and raise questions about what the president wouldn’t do to secure reelection.

What Trump said shouldn’t surprise voters, including the some 70 million who just voted for Trump. Imagined election fraud has long been part of his repertoire of grievances, and such appeals are unlikely to end even with his presidency.

This election will be settled by state leaders and, perhaps, lawyers and judges. A president’s words always matter, though the deeds from here will matter more; Republican leaders, the Department of Justice and perhaps a far broader federal government are among those now being tested.

For his part, the man who got more votes than Trump chose not to respond Thursday night. His judgment may be the right one — that what the president will ultimately prove irrelevant, and that silence stings Trump in particular.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Regardless of where the final vote count ends up, it seems increasingly clear that Biden and the Democrats hit new high watermarks in the state of Georgia.

In the Atlanta suburbs, Biden won by a margin anywhere from 5-8% larger than Clinton did four years ago.

The credit likely and rightly will mostly go to Black female leaders in the state, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Lucy McBath, Stacey Abrams to name a few, who organized, stood up to Republicans on coronavirus, and were laser-focused on voting rights.

Abrams told ABC News last month that the easiest form of voter suppression was telling people their vote would not count. She told people that, of course, it would: “We’ve had a democracy in the United States for 243 years. It worked through the Civil War.”

She worried a month ago that all of the president’s baseless talk about a rigged election would discourage people from turning out, and so she systematically fought back, arguing for mechanisms like letting people track and cure their balance to boost their confidence in the system.

Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina all let voters track their mailed-in ballots to see if it was received and counted and cure their ballots if there are issues. These were largely new systems put in place for transparency this year.

The TIP with Quinn Scanlan

All eyes are on Georgia, and they’re unlikely to divert once the outcome of the presidential race is settled as it’s looking like not just one, but both of Georgia’s Senate races are headed to a runoff election.

ABC News has already projected that the 20-candidate “jungle primary” special election will advance to a runoff between Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican incumbent who was appointed to the seat in late 2019.

Republican Sen. David Perdue was holding onto a majority of the vote through Thursday morning, but once more was reported — many of it from large Democratic-leaning counties — Perdue slipped under that critical 50% threshold, now with just 49.8% of the vote.

PHOTO: Democratic senate candidate Jon Ossoff speaks during a campaign event, Oct. 29, 2020, in Columbus, Ga. Republican senate candidate Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) speaks during a campaign event, Oct. 31, 2020, in Monroe, Ga.

Perdue being deprived of an outright win could mean the balance of the Senate won’t be decided until next year.

ABC News has also yet to project the winners in the Senate races in Alaska, North Carolina and Arizona. If these races go for the candidates currently leading — the Republicans in Alaska and North Carolina, and the Democrat in Arizona — the only way Democrats could control Congress’s upper chamber is if they pull off wins in both Georgia races, and Biden would have to win the presidency.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast. Friday morning’s episode features an update on where things stand in the key battlegrounds with ABC News’ Steve Osunsami, Whit Johnson and Eva Pilgrim. Then, ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl explains how the Republican Party is approaching the prospect of a Trump loss. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast. As votes continue to be counted in five key battleground states, and as former Vice President Joe Biden’s margins continue to improve, it looks very likely that the presidential race will eventually be called for Biden. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew shares an update on where votes are still coming in and what to make of the overall results at this point. https://53eig.ht/38hZNDk

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS WEEKEND

  • Democratic Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff will appear on ABC’s “The View.”
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold a press conference at 10:45 a.m.
  • Sunday on ABC’s “This Week”: The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the latest developments in the election with former Chicago Mayor and ABC News Contributor Rahm Emanuel, former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie, ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, and Democracy for America CEO and ABC News Contributor Yvette Simpson.
  • Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back Monday for the latest.





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