Most experts agree that election night may be inconclusive this year. With so many Americans voting by mail, and with several states waiting until Election Day to begin tabulation of these paper ballots, we will most likely go to sleep on election night without knowing whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden won the race.
Still, the prospect did not stop the Trump campaign from announcing an election night reception at Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. But on Thursday, The New York Times revealed that those plans have been called off and that the President will observe election night from the White House. It is unclear why Trump made the change, though there are a handful of possible reasons.
The Trump campaign in recent weeks sent out several fundraising emails to supporters, inviting them to an election night party at the president’s own DC hotel. “November 3rd will go down in history as the night we won FOUR MORE YEARS,” read one invitation that featured an image of the president and first lady. “It will be absolutely EPIC, and the only thing that could make it better is having YOU there. Join us on election night.”
According to advisers, Trump himself planned to be at the reception, in a recreation of 2016 circumstances. Four years ago, the Republican, his family and his close supporters held a gathering in New York City, where they watched the election returns and bore witness to Trump’s surprise win. Trump spoke for fifteen minutes on live television that night, declaring victory and thanking his supporters.
But today, as the nation continues to face the uncertainty of a global pandemic and a drawn-out vote-counting process, it seems less likely that Trump will be able to accept victory on election night. (There’s also the fact that he is trailing his Democratic rival in several key states). Still, there are other reasons why the president may have called-off his election night reception.
Party at My House!
Holding the celebration at the Trump International Hotel would have made for some poor optics, with the president mixing the duties of his office with his personal business. After all, Trump International would profit from the event, particularly since the campaign’s email solicitations encouraged attendees to spend the night at the hotel.
Additionally, the prospect of crowding a large party into the hotel’s ballroom could infringe on the city’s COVID-19 restrictions. Current DC guidelines limit social gatherings to only 50 people in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. After the PR and health disaster that followed the maskless Rose Garden celebration for Amy Coney Barrett, which soon proved to be a super-spreader event that caused President Trump himself to contract the virus, the campaign may have decided to save itself the trouble.
And finally, holding a reception at the hotel costs money, which is a sore spot for the Trump campaign in the final stretch of the race. Reportedly facing a cash crunch, the president may prefer to save his limited funds for rallies and ads in the days prior to the election.
Still, the White House claims that the Trump family will celebrate election night, even if they have to stay home. On Friday morning, the president’s son Eric Trump appeared on Fox News, where he was asked about the last-minute change of plans.
“We’re thinking about moving it, actually, over to the White House,” the younger Trump said. “We are looking at that right now. It’s going to be a great night.”