Is it Doe or Joe? This is the million-dollar question of the US Presidential Election 2020 that is haunting both the Republicans and the Democrats.
The Republicans, led by Donald Trump, have already experienced four years of governmental power and strength. The Democrats under Joe Biden are not far behind either, since he served as the Vice-President from 2009 to 2017 under Barack Obama. Both parties are street-savvy and know the nitty-gritty of power politics.
With just hours to go until Election Day, both presidential candidates and their star campaigners were engaged in hectic campaigning across the United States, with the Democratic candidate Joe Biden ‘appearing’ to lead in key states and also nationally. The campaigning style of both the candidates reflected a deeply polarised electorate. The candidates were completely contrasted in their approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, which persists to be a cause of serious concern throughout the US. As per the statistics of the polling aggregator Real Clear Politics, the national polls which indicate the way the popular vote swings, show that Joe Biden had an average lead of 7.2 percentage points.
We should remember that 2020 is unique in several respects, such as the unprecedented levels of early voting, as also other new factors impacting the predictive power of pre-election polling this year. In the final leg of campaigning, President Trump had spoken about his economic record, portraying the elections as a choice between a “Trump super recovery” and a “Biden depression”. The President had also alleged corruption charges against the Biden family and misrepresented the Biden-Harris position against fracking and fossil fuels. On Saturday, Kamala Harris campaigned in Florida — a very crucial state as the winner of the state has become the President in the past six elections. She dwelled, at length, on the Trump administration’s mishandling of the pandemic, racial injustice, the state of the economy and the climate crisis.
Though President Trump won from Florida in 2016, as per a New York Times-Sienna Polls survey, Joe Biden seems to be leading by a margin of eight points this year.
Joe Biden spoke about his intention to roll back tax cuts for the rich and not raise taxes for anyone earning an annual income less than USD 400,000. Former President Barack Obama, in his campaign speech for the Democrat candidate, spoke about how Biden would control the pandemic and create clean energy-related jobs.
As for the ties between India and the US, President Trump had sent his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to India for talks just one week before the election. Trump had also significantly held two rallies with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston and Ahmedabad in the past year. However, Trump’s policy towards India’s two biggest headaches — China and Pakistan — became most noticeable in the US foreign policy shift. US has led the way on Pakistan’s greylisting at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). On China, the US offered India moral and military support to counter Chinese aggression, as also led its own attack on China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its 5G telecom push.
On the whole, the biggest challenge for India would be the unpredictability, which has been President Trump’s trademark throughout the last four years. When asked what a second Trump administration will mean for India, many diplomats said that they strongly felt that it would be “more of the same, only more unpredictable”.
Now that the election season in the US is drawing to a close and in the midst of all the confusion, three very significant pointers regarding the country’s immediate direction have emerged:
1. The Big Tech, the clutch of big companies controlling commerce and information, needs to be regulated.
2. Increasing agreement between the Democrats and the Republicans that national manufacturing has to be protected.
3. A wider agreement appears to have emerged between the two parties regarding China as the main adversary of the United States.
Three other sour points are:
1. In the absence of a central authority or uniform rules running across the country, conflicting and chaotic election rules in different jurisdictions have become a source of political battle.
2. The role of expertise in public debates and policymaking. The hope that a question of immediate life-and-death narrative would push politicians towards the common ground of science seems premature and wishful thinking.
3. A third and most fundamental division in the US that will persist beyond the coming presidency is that of the American self. The loser in this election will get a minimum of 40 per cent of the votes of the people who have an idea of America that is quite different from those who have voted the winner.
This election should hold the answer to these questions sharp and short.
At the end of it all, as of today, the race in the US swing states has narrowed down so much that President Trump may still manage to piece together the 270 votes required to prevail in the state-by-state electoral college that determines the winner. And all said and done, it is the swing states that will decide who the winner is.
As per the last piece of news trickling in, Joe Biden may succeed in recapturing North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan which were lost to the Republicans and President Trump in the 2016 elections.
With an unprecedented 90 million Americans or 43 per cent of all registered voters already voting well in advance or by email by the end of Saturday, the results are a forgone conclusion. What is yet to be known is an outcome that is expected to shape the future fate of the United States of America, which is increasingly slipping from its World No 1 position in the eyes of the people of the world, who are watching it anxiously.