• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 9 comments on What If There Is No Winner on Election Night? A BU Expert Explains

  1. Trump is pathologically focused on his own self-interests. He faces a blizzard of personal legal actions at the federal and state level overhanging an electoral loss. If he loses, even after disputing the results in court and in statehouses (to replace electoral slates), he needs an exit plan. Self-pardon is constitutionally suspect, and risky. More likely, on some fictitious basis (say a medical procedure) he could ask Pence to invoke the 25th amendment. Pence then pardons Trump’s Federal sins, and he retakes the office. More “honorable” than resigning in January, and he eliminates one shadow darkening his retirement.

  2. The notion that Trump will not leave office if he is soundly defeated is without basis. No doubt, if the election is close or disputed, Trump will use all available lawful resources, including resort to the courts, to vindicate his position. But there is nothing wrong with that. Biden will do the same.

    If problems with the election do crop up they will, most likely, be due to the misguided idea of nationwide mail-in voting. I and several acquaintances personally know a number of people who have received multiple ballots (e.g., one with maiden name, one with married name). These kinds of errors set up a real possibility of vote fraud. Further, it is a complete unknown as to how accurately all of these mailed-in votes can be processed. Small error rates can potentially swing the election one way or the other. If people can visit their local supermarket on a repeated basis, they can make a once a year visit to the polling station. For those with serious health concerns, they could have voted via absentee ballot. That — not bizarre notions of a Trump coup d’etat — is the real concern.

    1. I would offer that the basis for this notion arises from the peculiar resistance that Trump seems to show against saying, simply and definitively, “I plan on getting re-elected, but if I am not, I guarantee that I will step down and commit to a peaceful transition of power.”

      If the President wanted to put this worry to rest, he could do so, easily. The worrying question is why he seems not to want to.

  3. The author neglected to ask an important question: What should we do if Trump wins fair and square and his opponents engage in violence? Unfortunately, this scenario is likely if Trump wins. Lately, we’ve seen a lot of political violence from left-wing groups (BLM and Antifa). The “political elites” described by Robert Tsai have largely excused the violence as understandable or turned a blind eye. This legitimizes it as a valid means of political discourse. It has hurt real people who own restaurants, shops, offices and homes in our big cities (populated nearly entirely by Democrats). Today, they are boarding up and bracing for more rioting and looting. The people in these towns who are attacking cops, defacing their neighbors’ homes and businesses, tearing down statutes and throwing molotov cocktails at courthouses aren’t Trump supporters. The political elites on both sides of the political spectrum must unequivocally condemn (not condone) violence as a means of political discourse, regardless of who wins the election.

      1. If you actually read deeper, you’d see that the latest information is that it was a Biden staffer who is likely at fault.


        But like EVERY liberal, you cherry pick an instance … there are quite literally thousands of instances where the liberal MOBS are causing violence towards conservatives … and if you struggle to see this, simply ask yourself – why is there a ‘shy’ Trump voter, when there are no ‘shy’ Biden voters?

        Trump will very likely win today and extend the margins achieved in ’16. (Sadly, Ds will likely hold the house – albeit with a few less seats .. however, Rs will keep the senate and perhaps even pick up a seat on a net basis.)

        1. You just cherry picked information from an article you used to back up your statement . There was a minor accident that is likely to be the fault of a Biden staffer. However, believe it or not, it wasn’t Biden supporters following the bus and trying to run it off the road. It was armed lunatics that have come out of their shanties because they have a president who continues to support and encourage hate on a daily basis. These people aren’t Americans. They’re racist, spiteful, and resentful human beings that make me ashamed to be a citizen of the same country they are apart of. Trump is a POS and the people defending the hate he spews constantly is more terrifying than him getting elected in the first place. The man is a sociopath. He doesn’t care about you. He cares about himself and his money. Biden isn’t great but Jesus. This country needs to heal. This country needs to go back to appreciating and celebrating differences. This country needs a president who doesn’t encourage and congratulate supporters trying to run a bus off the road. Is that not common sense? What is wrong with you? The current state of this country, our country, is a nightmare. We are supposed to be the most powerful nation in the world and everyone is laughing at us. Actually at this point, that laughter has turned into pity. What trump has turned us into the last four years is an America that is unrecognizable. We’re going backwards under him not forwards. The Republican Party has some great leaders and some people who would have been/will be excellent presidents. Trump ain’t it.

        2. Reading further, as you suggest, it seems that the Biden staffer did make the unfortunate error of being a Biden staffer in Texas: the roadway equivalent of “He ran into my knife! He ran into my knife ten times!” Debating about who was at fault in a minor collision in a context where one political group surrounds and threatens another with the clear intention of intimidating them is rather missing the point, don’t you think?

          You do, however, make an excellent point about looking at individual instances over trends, and I welcome any documentation you’d like to provide on this front. I’m sure that with “literally thousands of instances” of politically-motivated mass violence, there must be some robust and well-documented statistics available that I’ve simply missed in the news. I’m always happy to be presented with new evidence.

          On the other hand, it could be that the figure of the “shy Trump voter” is the only way some people have of resolving the cognitive dissonance between believing that they represent an unassailable majority of the American public, while also finding themselves in the minority in just about every poll (including, incidentally, the last Presidential election). After all, if one’s political ideology is rooted in populism, then one can’t be in the minority; far safer to assume that there are secret millions who agree, but won’t say so on the record.

          As for your last point, I’m not sure that I see the need to make predictions at this point; after all, the results will speak for themselves very soon indeed. What I would ask you to consider is what your reaction will be if things don’t go as you expect them to: Will you be able to accept the reality of a Republican defeat if that is indeed what happens? Or are you so certain of the inevitability of victory that you are bound to take anything less as a sign of malfeasance?

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