Trump vs Trump

The US presidential election is a referendum on the Presidency of Donald Trump

Today Americans go to the polls to decide the next US President, but make no mistake this is not a contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, this election is a contest between Donald Trump and Donald Trump. If you like Trump you vote for Trump, if you do not like Trump you vote for Biden, simple.

A quick summary

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Today is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, therefore according to the US Constitution it is officially US Presidential polling day.

  • 99 million votes have already been cast in what is proving to be one of the highest turnouts in American electoral history.
  • 1,000 Coronavirus deaths have been recorded in the US every day in the run up to the election.
  • This election probably will not be decided tonight as a record number of mail ballots will need to be counted and verified, with each state having different rules in place for how to count these. Don’t be surprised to see Bush vs Gore-esque legal challenges up until the formal announcement on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in December.
  • US Citizens are not just voting for their preferred Presidential candidate but also for their Federal Senators, Congressional representatives, State Governors, State senators, state representatives, district representatives and even in some cases the local rodent control officer.
  • These statistics show the voter turnout per state as the day progresses https://electproject.github.io/Early-Vote-2020G/index.html

The Donald Trump factor

According to serial stirrer, Michael Moore, Donald Trump was convinced to run for the Presidency in 2016 after he found out that Gwen Stefani earned more money hosting the Voice than he did hosting The Apprentice. Now I have no idea how true this is, but his decision to run has had a seismic knock on effect. So why did Americans vote for Donald Trump in 2016 and why they may well do so again:

The Rust Belt – The Northern Industrial states could see a rise in problems such as Gun Crime, drug use, homelessness and poverty all in an 8 year Democrat Presidency, the message to ‘drain the swamp’ struck a chord with the disillusioned and disaffected white working class voter.

The Bible Belt – Strong views on abortion and family values is a consistent vote winner amongst the religious sector and the Republicans traditionally do well here, this may well continue to work in swing states such as Florida. This base is rock solid and will vote it is up to Biden to encourage his voters to come out, which early indications suggest is happening.

There are many uncertainties which may yet decide the election an explosive Republican turnout on Election Day; tepid enthusiasm for Biden; legal victories related to ballot counting; and a swing to Trump by the few voters who remain undecided. Trump needs all of this to happen if he is going to emerge triumphant in December. Make no mistake this election is going all the way.

Legal challenges – If the result is close and there are indications it will be especially in some key states including Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Arizona then expect a raft of post election day legal challenges, maybe a repeat of 2000 could return a Republican to the White House?

The impact of Kamala Harris

I was first alerted to Kamala Harris by a Democrat supporting friend of mine from Denver, Colorado. The first South Asian woman to be elected as a senator and the first woman of Indian descent to be nominated as a Vice-Presidential candidate, make no mistake Kamala Harris is the real deal and could swing the election, especially amongst the American Indian voters.

A member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, the select committee on intelligence, the committee on the judiciary and the committee on the budget, she introduced 52 bills in 2019, in the top third of Senators.

She has campaigned hard in states such as the Lone Star State in Texas, particualrly in towns hit hard by Coronavirus which if flips to the Democrats will be a huge sign of intent for Joe Biden’s campaign.

Her priorities are criminal justice reform and racial justice legislation, supports same sex marriage and has called for a ban on assault weapons, all very steady Democrat supporting policies… but.

Kamala Harris dropped out of the Presidential race for several reasons, firstly was her failure to raise enough campaign finance and secondly accusations from the likes of Kelly Mehlenbacher, the outgoing state operations director, who complained that staffers were being treated appallingly and top officials provided little direction on policy and lacked a viable plan to win the election.

The impact of Coronavirus

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The numbers are stark more than 8.7 million Americans have contracted Covid-19, more than 225,000 have died from it. The President himself has been struck down with the virus and the Democrats have worked hard to make this election a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

Approximately 100,233 new cases were reported on Friday, surpassing a previous record total of 91,000, according to Reuters. More than nine million cumulative Covid-19 cases have been reported across the country. On Friday, 16 states reported their highest one-day coronavirus infections while 13 states were at record levels of hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

In October, 31 states set records for increases in new cases, including five considered must-win states in the election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

Polling suggests the pandemic is the 2nd most important voting factor behind party identification. I began this blog by suggesting the election could be a referendum on Trump, if it is a referendum on Trump’s handling of a global pandemic, expect to see a resounding win for Biden

The October surprise

Every Presidential election has an October surprise which determines the election, in 2016 the Comey affair was deeply damaging to Hillary Clinton, in 2008 the financial crash and the immediate rise in unemployment damaged Republican credibility and in 1992, Caspar Weinberger was indicted in the Iran-Contra affair damaging George Bush seniors election hopes.

However, as the 2020 election is a referendum on President Trump there has been no real impactful surprises which has affected voting significantly. This could be because nothing surprises the American people anymore.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg earlier this month and the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court makes the outcome of the election largely irrelevant anyway as Trump has already secured a Conservative leaning court.

Impact of the Electoral College

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016, yet due to the nuances of the Electoral College system Donald Trump comfortably won in the Electoral College. I will not go into the nuances of what the Electoral College is, but if you wish to find out more please follow this link https://www.lbc.co.uk/politics/us-election/us-presidential-election-2020-what-is-the-electoral-college-and-how-does-it-work/.

Due to the impact of the Electoral College there are only a handful of so called ‘swing states’ which become important. The key states to look out for are:

  • Texas
  • Georgia
  • Ohio
  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • Arizona
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Colorado
  • Virginia

Interestingly for Mr Trump of these 11 states lean more to the Republicans than the country as a whole, and evidence from the “tipping point” states which could decide the results, many could end up leaning to the right delivering a Trump win.

The polls are suggesting a comfortable Biden win however, the electoral college is going to have a serious part to play here, this election is not over yet.

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