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Don't Pin Your Hopes on that Hillary Clinton Recount

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 23, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 23, 2016 |

New York Magazine ran a piece yesterday that probably got a lot of hopes up for sensible America about the possibility of a recount:

Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.

It is in the nature of all of us on the losing side of a close race to believe — or want to believe — that something was afoot. The polls predicted Hillary would win the election decisively, how could they be so wrong unless there was some funny business going on?

Well, the polls weren’t that wrong — Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote decisively and by around the same margin predicted in the polls — and there was some funny business going on: James Comey’s letter probably cost Hillary the election, and she spent months fending off reports that surfaced from emails hacked by the Russians. The deck was stacked against Hillary, but I don’t think there’s much to this conspiracy theory that the election was hacked in three states. Here’s the only piece of evidence we know to support the hacking conspiracy:

The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.

That sounds bad, except we have no idea where the counties that relied on electronic-voting machines were. They could have been in heavily Republican districts. And besides, it doesn’t change anything in Pennsylvania or Michigan, and Clinton would need all three to win. Moreover, PA, MI, and WI flipping is consistent with the other Rust Belt states skewing toward Trump on election day. A whole lot of white people who voted for Obama in the midwest woke up on election day and said, “My life is not any better after eight years of Obama. It’s time to try something else, consequences to the rest of the nation be damned.”

Look: The system is rigged in many ways. Clinton will win by nearly 2 million votes and still lose the Presidency. The counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of the country’s economic wealth compared to the counties Trump won, which only generated 36 percent of the country’s economic wealth. Republicans suppressed a lot of votes, and they intimidated a lot of other voters. Democrats won 55 percent of the votes in House races, but only won 45 percent of the seats.

The system is in many ways rigged not only against Democrats but against voting in general (people of color are 6 times more likely than white people to have to wait an hour or more to vote), but in some ways, our Democratic lawmakers let it get that way by not fighting hard enough against it. The Dems are compromisers and capitulators. Those are probably good qualities in a marriage, but not so good in a politician of this era. A lot of what went on in our election simply wasn’t fair, and it sucks that Clinton won by 2 million votes overall but lost the election because of a little more than 100,000 votes in three states.

But this election recount business? Unless we’re not being told something, there’s really not much there besides a general feeling of unfairness. Would it put our minds at ease if a recount was held? Sure! But I don’t think it is going to change anything. President Obama doesn’t want a recount, and I’m going to go ahead and put my faith in him again. He’s a smart man. As the last 8 years have demonstrated, he seems to have a fairly good idea of what’s best for this country.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.