Flustering Race to The Presidency: 2020 US Elections Round-Up
by Alp Ünal AYHAN
Following the end of the much-contested presidential primary elections, the tickets on the 2020 presidential election’s ballot are finalized: on the Democrats’ side are former vice president Joe Biden for president and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for vice president, and incumbent President Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence fighting for reelection on the Republicans’ side. The candidates are not formally nominated by the parties yet; this will happen in the Democratic National Convention this week and Republican National Convention next week. Usually, national party conventions are huge spectacles, bringing party insiders and members all over the country together in one place with thousands of delegates and tens of speakers joined by musical artists giving live performances to help cheer the participants up and conventions giving nominees a “convention boost” in the polls, but this is not possible this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so conventions are being held online. Both major parties plan to keep their conventions online with only Republicans doing the voting on-site. How this may affect the convention boosts is uncertain.
Nevertheless, Joe Biden probably will not need such a boost as he holds a massive lead in the polls, defeating Trump 52% to 40% in CNN’s national poll of polls (1) and leading in many swing states he needs to carry to flip the White House blue. RealClearPolitics projects Biden will win the Electoral College with 337 votes, far more than 270 required to win the election (2). Of course, the election is still very contentious, and the Democrats also need to win back the US Senate to work through their agenda, but it is pretty clear that the Democrats are much more comfortable with the election than Republicans.
How is the Trump administration responding to this? With panic for sure. Due to the pandemic, many states have shifted to vote-by-mail entirely, and many more will be allowing voters to vote by mail if they wish to. According to a New York Times analysis, a record 76% of voters will be able to vote by mail (3). On top of Trump’s massive unpopularity and growing public sentiment against him regarding his handling of COVID, this is worrying Trump and the GOP. Trump, using his Twitter account, has been trying to place mistrust in the November elections already by claiming vote-by-mail is mired by fraud and will be used against him to give the presidency to Biden. These claims are entirely unfounded, as studies show the fraud rate in vote-by-mail ballots is close to zero (4). Trump himself certainly does not believe this claim as he requested a mail ballot from his state of Florida (5). Late last month, he tweeted, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely, and safely vote???”. This caused huge controversy, but he certainly does not have the power to delay the election date. A change to the date needs to be approved by Congress, and no matter the election date, Trump’s presidential term is fixed and ends on the 20th of January, 2021. That would make Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) acting president. The Trump administration seems to have given up this idea, choosing to curtail vote-by-mail efforts by impeding with US Postal Service’s operations instead. USPS is already in financial trouble because of a law that mandates it to fund employees’ healthcare post-retirement 75 years in advance, and it is not getting any new funding. The more worrying news came out last week with stories of some mail sorting machines being removed and employees being told to slow down mail. Recently USPS warned 46 states and Washington, DC, that it might not be able to meet deadlines to process enough mail to hold the election.
Election Day is November 3rd, and many elected offices are up for grabs, including members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and 13 states’ governors.