What will the 2020 U.S.A. election look like?

A breakdown of the election in Coronavirus and predictions from GUU’s resident American.

Written by: Jordan R. Hunter

With Scotland having an election every year for four of the last five years, and the Holyrood election set for a distant 2021, many folks will crave more election drama this year, especially since we’ve all finished Tiger King by now and with many days still to go through quarantine, thankfully the US election is gearing up for its long march to November. 

You might wonder how the virus will affect the US general election, but rest assured it will go on as scheduled. Legally speaking, Trump could in theory postpone or cancel the election that would not be in his interests. Constitutionally his term would expire as well as many Republican Senators (not all senate seats go up in an election year, only a third and this year mostly Republican). This would mean there would be no House of Representatives, as they all expire this year, and no President nor Vice President, but there would be a quorum amount of sitting senators, meaning a Democrat minority leader would be installed as President. Long story short, Trump needs the election to go forward as planned. Additionally, should lockdown continue most states have already made laws to ensure that an electronic or postal ballot could occur. 

Now for the speculating, let me be your American John Curtice. Trump has the easiest path back to the White House. One thing many people don’t realise is Republicans in general elections typically get the same number of votes year after year making it more of a game of turnout for Democrats. Many think that the working class vote in the rust belt got him into office, but that’s not really true. They won him the Republican nomination, but in the general he really didn’t gain a larger voter base than Romney or McCain. Trump’s approval rating, while being in the red, is on an upward trend. Similarly, the generic polling shows the gap between him and Biden is also shrinking, meaning Trump is also gaining ground head to head with his opponent. Trump also gets the cards stacked in his favour with an incumbency advantage and the Electoral College structure favoring Republicans. Trump also benefits from the latest allegations against Joe Biden as Democrats now have to answer some deep internal questions on how to respond. Trump further benefits from the Democrats once again fracturing, as Bernie supporters and other progressives feel like they were robbed of the nomination and question why they should vote for Biden. Bernie showed well in Iowa and all the bellwether states, but after South Carolina and the Covid Crisis, had to stop. These all have serious repercussions on turnout as we saw with 2016. The Bernie or Bust crowd failed to show up and that killed Hillary’s campaign alongside the allegations from the Comey report into her use of a private email server.

It’s not all bleak for Joe. He has something that Hillary never got, “The Obama Coalition”. The Coalition is young first time voters, African Americans, and other groups which typically have low turnouts. In 2008 and 2012 they led to landslide victories for Obama, and there are signs that Biden can do the same. Biden performed really well and increased turnout numbers in South Carolina, especially in African American communities. Many of the states in the primary he lost are white, middle class Democrat strongholds that mean very little in terms of trying to win the General Election as they tend to turn up regardless of who wins the nomination for the party. He also gets to take the piste de resistance out of Trump’s hand as the economy Trump has prided himself on is now in taters. Many undecided moderates do not see Biden as a major threat to the economy, giving him a slight advantage. Trump’s virus response has also been lackluster as approval of the response has been falling. I guess telling people to inject disinfectant, criticising your own CDC task force head, and egging on protestors don’t play well…go figure. 

Let’s not forget there are other parties in this election beyond just Republicans and Democrats, though all third parties will struggle for ballot access due to many states requiring physical petitions with signatures for third party candidates, something nobody can do under lockdown. Plus their candidates are chosen by their conventions and gathering of state party leaders, something that also cannot happen under lockdown. Nevertheless, they will probably at least get their Presidential nominees on the ballot in most states, but many local and state offices will likely not have nominations. For the Libertarians they can take pride in the fact they are slated to perform at a historically high level. Coming off a historic 3.2% vote share in 2016, this year might be their best chance to break the 5% threshold. Following former Republican Congressman Justin Amash running for and then dropping out of the race for their nomination, the Libertarian Party recently selected academic Jo Jorgensen as their candidate – so far the only female candidate in the race. Despite little name recognition, some Libertarians are confident she will build on momentum. The Green Party underperformed last election falling from 5% in polling to 1% on election day, and have struggled to find a candidate. Howie Hawkins looks like the presumptive nominee – he’s also the nominee of the Socialist Party of America, but has little hope of expanding the Green Party nationally. What he lacks in name recognition and party expansion he makes up with campaign logos and signs, my favourite “H-20”, get it like 2020 the year and H20 like water… I know… I’m sad I brought it up. Ultimately I could see the Libertarians exceeding their expectations and getting the 5% and maybe Hawkins can get throw-away votes from Bernie supporters, but statistically they are likely to spoil their ballot or just not turn up.

Now for final predictions. The winner…(Insert drumroll)…of the 2020…presidential election…is… Donald Trump. (Slow claps). Polling in the past has tended to undervalue Republicans and I think that will continue. If the polls are already trending upward for him now it’s a bad sign for Joe. The virus may lower turnout if it continues, but Republicans don’t usually find this to be an issue, they already dominate absentee postal ballots and Democrats will have to work hard to get people to register to vote. I’m not saying Joe is doomed, but there needs to be massive changes and shifts before November. Then again people thought his campaign was dead after Iowa, but he still found a way to win so anything is possible and all is still to play for come November.

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