Early Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump prematurely — and fraudulently — claimed victory in the 2020 presidential election. The president’s declaration came as mail-in votes had yet to be counted in key states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — exactly the places where Republicans made sure ballots couldn’t be legally processed until Election Day.
But as we all sit with the discomfort of not knowing who the next president will be, there does seem to be at least one person who knew this outcome was likely to happen: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who just last month eerily predicted exactly this scenario. During an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show, Sanders cautioned that Trump could be winning in the aforementioned states on Tuesday night before mail-in ballots are counted and then might declare himself the winner. And, surprise! As it turns out, Trump did announce a win early Wednesday morning and then threatened to bring a case before his conservative majority Supreme Court to stop the remaining ballots from being counted.
Further, Sanders correctly predicted that Democrats were more likely to vote by mail than Republican voters, who would vote in person in higher numbers and see their votes counted early on. This scenario would lead Trump — to once again — sow discord about voter fraud as mail-in ballots are counted in the days to follow, Sanders warned.
“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, at which point 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,’” Sanders said during his appearance. And that seems to be exactly how the election is playing out.
With Sanders’s prediction on everyone’s minds Wednesday morning, many started wondering how different this election would look right now if the Vermont senator was the Democratic nominee. Some said that he would have handily won, and gestured to Florida, where voters overwhelmingly supported a progressive ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $15, an effort championed by Sanders.
And yet, it's also worth pointing out that Florida voters there also came out in support of Trump, who has effectively (with his base, anyway) leaned into calling Biden a socialist. While Biden is very clearly a centrist, establishment Democrat, Sanders is not — and so he might not have done so well in Florida after all.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing for sure how the election would have played out if Sanders were the Democratic nominee, but it’s only natural for people to think about these hypotheticals as we sit with so much uncertainty. What we do know is that there’s still a long road ahead, and perhaps the best thing to do in the meantime is to check in with our communities. And listen to everything Bernie Sanders says.