Inadvertently, the disaster-prone 2020 is more than halfway over. The 2020 US presidential election is imminent. With the advent of autumn, let’s take a comprehensive look at what kind of state we’re in and the respective advantages that lie in the campaigns between Trump and Biden.
The achievements of the past four years and the convenience of office enjoyed by the current president have given Donald Trump a huge advantage in his campaign. “The greatest economy in the history of our country.” (— Trump, in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, July 16) is the sharpest weapon in Trump's arsenal. At present, various economic factors indicate the United States is booming, with high employment, low inflation, consumer confidence index, and wage growth rate, which are among the best in nearly half a century. In a recent Gallup survey, as many as 71% of respondents think it is a good time to look for a job. This is the highest number Gallup has recorded since they started the survey 20 years ago. The importance of the economy in all previous elections is self-evident. When the economy is in recession, it has proved difficult for incumbent presidents such as Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush to keep going; under the circumstances of low unemployment rates and stable economic environments, American voters rarely consider changing horses halfway, so Reagan, George W. Bush, and Obama were re-elected. In the 2020 election campaign, voters' satisfaction with the current economic situation and their psychology of seeking stability will be a big boom to Trump’s possible election.
Ray Fair, professor at Yale University, used his model to successfully predict the results of the last three elections. He believes that GDP growth rate and inflation rate are the most important factors affecting voters’ decisions. Using current economic data to run the model, he concluded that Trump would undoubtedly be re-elected.
Being in the White House also brings Trump some unique advantages and opportunities. One of these is a huge media boost. Trump beat Hillary Clinton, and his use of the media is a very important reason why. After becoming president, this advantage has been expanded. First of all, he relies on Twitter to run the country and attack his political enemies, which easily sweeps the headlines. He has become the focus of media attention in the United States; democratic opponents simply can't compete with him for exposure. In a U.S. election where television time equals money, Trump's team receives a great deal of “political contributions” due to his media use.Trump enjoys being able to easily make headlines. The “social maniac” tweeted more than 3400 times last year.
The incumbent president can also control the election by means of executive orders. In the 2012 general election, Obama, who was also seeking re-election, announced a temporary amnesty for juvenile illegal immigrants in the middle of his campaign, thus consolidating support from Latinx voters. Trump is also likely to make policy decisions for the purpose of attracting voters; the only thing his opponents can do is criticize his policies in speeches.
In addition to the economic card and media advantages, “the largest tax reform bill in history,” the reform of the judicial system, the reform of the Veteran medical system, and the abolition of onerous regulations “to reduce the burden on enterprises” will also become some of Trump's “great achievements” mentioned on the campaign trail. Naturally, the beneficiaries of relevant policies will become his “iron votes.” To top it all off, the death of 86 year old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (a Jewish woman who strongly advocated for women’s rights to abortion) gives Trump the opportunity to use the nomination of a conservative justice to mobilize conservative voters.
In the first 24 hours after the announcement of his re-election campaign, the Trump team raised an average of more than one million dollars an hour (accounting for 36 million dollars in one week of running for election), exactly double the amount raised by Bernie Sanders (Democratic fundraising champion) in the first quarter. The amazing speed of gold absorption reflects Trump's appeal among some voters; the dark horse four years ago has become a powerful “defending champion” in the second election.
Trump also has many factors working against him. The first to bear the brunt is his unrestrained, vindictive remarks on social networks. In the mid-term parliamentary election in 2018, the Republican Party lost a large number of seats. After the election, data analysis showed that a number of rural middle-class female voters deviated from the Republican Party. Trump’s pattern of bullying critics on social networks acts as an impetus for these women voters to support Democratic candidates.
Another important factor that could prevent Trump’s re-election is the uncertainty of US economic development. As the most concerned issue of voters, the economy is a double-edged sword. If on polling day next year, the U.S. economy continues to maintain its current momentum of prosperity, it will undoubtedly help Trump "Lian Zhuang". But if the U.S. economy starts to decline in November 2020, voters will no doubt be inclined to switch horses.
There are many factors that could lead to a downturn in the US economy. First of all, the cyclical nature of economic development makes the United States often have a recession or even a crisis of varying scales every 10 years. Now, more than 10 years have passed since the "Great Recession" caused by the subprime mortgage crisis, some people in the economic circle have already held their breath for the possible recession. And the possibilities are added as the pandemic brought by COVID has unexpectedly arrived.
A bigger threat than a cyclical crisis is Trump’s trade war against China. If the world's top two economic powers can’t turn hostility into friendship in a short period of time, it will inevitably devastate the global economy and cause a greater economic disaster than the cyclical recession.
The direction of other foreign affairs will also have an impact on the election. Generally speaking, voters do not pay much attention to international relations. However, the current negotiations between the US government and North Korea as well as the pressure on Iran are related to Trump's self-proclaimed title as “negotiator.”. If the relevant diplomatic efforts fail in the short term, North Korea will resume its nuclear tests and the situation in the Middle East will continues to deteriorate. At that point, not only will the centrist voters’ views of Trump be negatively impacted, but even his loyal supporters may decide to abstain from voting on election day because of disappointment.
Also affecting Trump's fundamentals is immigration. Anti-illegal immigration was the core campaign platform in Trump’s last election and was the key facet to his garnered support. More than three years after he moved into the White House, the wall on the U.S./Mexico border still only exists in fans’ slogans. As the election started, in order to be conscientious to his fans Trump used administrative means to bypass Congress and allocate funds for the construction of the wall, then proposed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. At the same time, he tried to use large-scale deportation of illegal immigrants as a bargaining chip to exert pressure on the Democratic party on the issue of immigration reform.
So far at least, these measures have not worked; some conservatives who endorsed him in the last election have begun to publicly criticize his dishonesty. If he can't give his fans an account on immigration, they won't turn against each other, but they will definitely reduce the turnout of Republican voters—enough to shatter Trump's dream of re-election.
This year, the number of Democratic primary candidates reached a record high of more than 20, including many well-known figures such as Bernie Sanders (an “old man” who was popular among young people and nearly pushed out Hillary Clinton in the last primary) and Elizabeth Warren (senator of Massachusetts). It was originally expected that the process of the primary election would drag on because of the large number of candidates, no one anticipated that a victory (or defeat) would be determined on March 3, 2020. When former Vice President Biden won the primaries in 14 states on the same day, the other candidates withdrew. Biden quickly locked in, waiting for the formal confirmation of the Democratic National Congress.
Biden stood out on the one hand because he was overwhelmingly supported by POC. This is mainly because he was the Vice President to the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama. On the other hand, Biden is more mellow than some of his more radical counterparts. In order to defeat Trump, the Democratic Party needs a widely accepted political figure to attract middle voters and expand support; Biden's lack of characteristics has become the biggest feature.
Today, polls show that Biden's approval rating is significantly higher than Trump’s. After nearly four years of governing by Trump, many Republicans now show support for Biden. However, few have said for sure that Biden will win. On the one hand, because of the lessons of Hillary Clinton’s great fever in 2016, people generally have doubts about poll accuracy. On the other, the real tough fight between Biden and Trump has just started, and Trump is an unpredictable person that people don't know that if he would win.
Despite his political experience, Biden has not been able to leave a very clear personal image and is constantly making mistakes. The liftoff of Biden’s political career was running for president in 1988. At that time, he earned the title “great speaker” for his excellent speeches, but the New York Times revealed that he had plagiarized the original words of Kinnock, leader of the British Labor Party, in a debate. This was enough to bring his first campaign to a dismal end.
In addition, Biden's attitude toward women wasn’t considered very polite, and his physical contact was often so close he earned the nickname massager in chief.” In the political and press circles at the time it was only a joke, b with the rise of the #MeToo movement, how politicians treat women has been more closely monitored. Since March 2020, women have come forward to accuse Biden of discomfort caused by physical contact.
Even in recent months novel coronavirus pneumonia has been repeated by Biden. For example, he mentioned three times that he saw Mandela's experience, but his three times restatement was inconsistent. He also said that 150 million people in the United States were killed by gun violence, 120 million were killed by new crown pneumonia, and the current population in the United States is about 330 million.
Biden has half a century's political experience, which is in sharp contrast to Trump’s misdeeds in the White House. He was Vice President for eight years with Obama as his partner and has accumulated high popularity and prestige. His political stance is moderate, and he can get along with the white working class, so he is approachable and has a strong affinity. Over the years, Biden has been running around Washington office and Delaware every day. At home in the state, they go back every night to accompany their families and often sit on the floor with their grandchildren. Against the background of Trump’s unruly and bottomless governance, Biden's wisdom and demeanor are particularly valuable, and this can attract more neutral voters.
And on the issue of choosing Biden's running mate, initially, they wanted to match him with a strong and progressive candidate to hold the base of the Democratic Party. However, with the expansion of Biden's favor in the polls and the completion of the integration of the Democratic Party, the party’s top leaders realized that Biden no longer needed a vice-presidential candidate who could help him gain support from the left, but rather a person who was harmless to his dominant position in the election.
Kamala Harris emerged as such. Her Jamaican father and Indian mother give her the appeal of a strong and diverse family. 10 years ago she became the first female and African American attorney general of California. In 2017, she was promoted to the first South Asian American senator and the second Black woman senator in history. These facets will undoubtedly attract a large number of people of color. Moreover, Harris has been in public office for many years and has passed several rounds of severe censorship. She is a very safe partner.
Obviously, Biden and the Democratic Party's campaign strategy is to turn the general election into a referendum against Trump's administration. To achieve this, they must not have any obvious flaws. Instead, all firepower is aimed at Trump's immorality. In this way, safety and a lack of error becomes the most important criterion for Democratic candidates. "A consensus-building mediator" is expected to remain Biden's main image in future elections. It's worth noting that, despite Biden's lead in the polls, many voters who support him say they made the choice because of Trump, not Biden. In other words, many people chose Biden he was merely a better alternative.
If Trump wants to be re-elected, he needs to expand his support. However, since his election four years ago Trump's approval rating has been stable at about 40%, never more than half, proving that more than half of the Americans are actually against him. His performance in the pandemic also led to the loss of his basic appeal.
In the early stages of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Trump refused to pay attention the virus against expert suggestions in order to preserve the economy of the United States and his election. He repeatedly created an illusion of peace, claiming that the pandemic is a fraud and will soon disappear by itself. Even when the U.S. outbreak began in March, Trump's top priority was still the U.S. economy and the stock market, opposing all state government home orders. Although he eventually accepted the pandemic as reality, he is still pushing for local governments to restart as soon as possible. On Trump's call, some Republican states such as Texas, Florida, and Arizona prematurely chose to return to work and school at the end of April or early May. Most of these states have now returned to a high level of virus incidence. Since then, Trump has repeatedly gone out without wearing a mask, insisting on the uselessness of social distance and failing to set an example.
These actions have corresponding political consequences. For example, Florida's most important class of voters is a number of retired people. With high turnout and political participation, they have been the key to the victory of the Republican Party in recent years. However, under the threat of the new pandemic Trump's poor performance in conjunction with Republican Governor DeSantis has made Florida the outbreak center of the U.S.; Florida has transformed from an undoubtedly Republican state to a swing state.
In the case of George Floyd's death, Trump played no role in healing the psychological trauma of the people. Instead, he constantly displayed his toughness and threatened to send troops to the streets to maintain order. This pushed many centrist voters who sympathized with Floyd to the Democratic side.
With more and more people dissatisfied with Trump, Biden's chances look strong given he avoids mistakes, which is obviously the Democratic Party's wish, but the next few debates will be a hurdle for Biden. Trump is a talented debater. He is strong in attacking others, seizing attention, and insulting his opponents with nicknames. Biden is a big mouth and often says the wrong thing.
In addition, there are the technical details of the election. Due to the novel coronavirus pneumonia, voter registration has plummeted. Those registered in highly competitive states are older, whiter, and less Democratic. In other words, the number of registered Democrats and the number of voters of the Democratic Party will be greatly reduced. If this trend does not change, the 2020 general election will be a low turnout election. This is an unexpected boost for Trump. In addition, the pandemic has forced many to vote by mail ballot. Those who choose to do so are mainly Democratic supporters who abide by social distancing guidelines. At present, the postmaster general appointed by Trump is removing mailboxes, a clear tactic to increase the difficulty of voting especially non-conducive to the Democratic Party.
In addition, there is a special phenomenon in the U.S. general election: the so-called "October Surprise" in which news that directly affect the election is often leaked only a few months before voting day. It is likely we will soon see said unexpected events. What can surprise us in 2020? Will there be some breakthrough before the election? We'll just have to wait and see.
Cathy is the Web Master of The Weekly Cad.