Are we sleepwalking into the most important election of our time?
With less than a month to go till America heads to the polls, the campaign is in full swing heading towards a Presidential showdown on November 3rd. White House incumbent Republican candidate Donald J. Trump is facing Democratic hopeful former Vice-President Joseph R. Biden in the race to 270 Electoral College votes. In the shadows of a global pandemic and amidst a racial awakening in the United States, the discourse has shifted significantly. The presidential outcome will have far-reaching consequences for both Americans and the whole world order. So where is this heading then? Who is going to win?
How did we get here?
Almost four years ago, Donald Trump received 304 electoral voters, surpassing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Although his Democratic challenger former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won 2.1% more votes than he did, he managed to flip enough states to reach the ‘magic’ 270.
The past four years have seen an administration that has been plagued by scandal and controversy. However, the presidential approval ratings remain constant and Trump continues to go down well with his base and has shifted the ideology of the mainstream Republican Party. The saving grace for the administration is proving to be the economic successes that the United States have experienced over the last four years, including impressive unemployment numbers.
With this in mind, the President goes into the 2020 election trailing in the polls and is experiencing an ever-decreasing path to victory.
Now in the blue corner:
Former Vice-President Joe Biden has over 47 years of experience in D.C, famously serving as Barack Obama’s number two when he was President. Biden has lived through his fair share of tragedy, losing his first wife Neilia and one-year-old daughter Naomi in an automobile accident just after his election to the Senate. He raised his two sons as a single-parent and United States Senators for many years. He is seen as ideologically moderate within the Democratic Party and made history in appointing vice-presidential running mate, Kamala Harris; the first female African American to be on a major party ticket, making a significant crack in that glass ceiling.
Now, what does the road to victory look like?
Both candidates must win enough states that in Electoral College terms are worth 270 electoral votes or more. states have Electoral College votes allocated proportionally to their population; the most populous state is California and it has more Electoral College votes than any other state.
Most states are electorally ‘safe’ for each party, meaning that a party is likely to receive a majority of votes in that state. California and New York are ‘safe’ for Democrats, whereas Alabama and Idaho are ‘safe’ Republican states. This means that during Presidential elections, it’s important for pundits to focus on the ‘battleground states’; Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and North Carolina. Joe Biden doesn’t need to move mountains electorally to win the Presidency and currently would only need to pick up a few key states such as Florida and Michigan off Trump to get there. In the case of the path to victory, the odds are in Biden’s favour.
Is this election even that important?
As we continue to live in unprecedented times and an uncertain future, electing the leader of the free world has never been so important. Covid-19 has made us disconnected from the realities of daily life and more specifically, political life.
However, the Trump campaign has begun to hold larger rallies and is slowly but surely returning to his more preferred way of campaigning, with little regard of COVID safety measures.
But the Coronavirus isn’t the only major influence of this year’s race to presidency. The murder of George Floyd in Minnesota earlier this year sparked public outcry and social movement that has rippled across the world. This will play a significant role at the ballot box this November and a concentrated focus will be on the turnout numbers of African Americans, who tend to vote Democrat.
Likewise, the recent passing of judicial heavyweight Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has produced a new dimension to the campaign, where the future of the Supreme Court is on the ballot. Donald Trump’s pick Amy Coney Barrett, if confirmed, will further increase conservative presence and power at the court. It also calls into question the future of many aspects of American life, including; abortion, healthcare and the future of minorities. The United States stands at a political, economic and social crossroads and never has it been more important for America to elect a President that can lead the country into a new era.
The current frontrunner is Joe Biden who has been leading Trump in a majority of national opinion polls and is leading the incumbent in many key states. It would be naïve of me to claim frontrunner status for Biden based on opinion polls, that on occasion can be terribly misleading. However, murmurings from inside the White House and in D.C. circles suggest that the wheels are falling off the ‘Trump Train’ and Biden has a clear run for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Will Joe Biden find the right path and make the most unconventional President in recent history a one-termer? Or will Donald Trump repeat his performance in 2016 and beat the odds and secure four more years?