In less than 36 days the United States will hold their general election, determining whether Joe Biden will go on to become the 46th president in the White House, or whether Trump will go on for another four years. And while no US election can be predicted with complete certainty, the issues that surround the US 2020 elections have made it even harder than usual to determine what will happen at the polls.
If there is one thing that the US 2020 elections can promise this year is uncertainty. A pandemic has killed thousands, unemployment rates have skyrocketed, wild-fires are burning through the west, and with countless other issues at stake, election results have an overwhelming number of factors to take into account.
The United States now stands with the most number of cases and deaths, with over 6.65M cases related to COVID-19 and over 197k deaths. And considering that throughout the past few months President Donald Trump has sent very misleading messages about the severity of the virus, American voters have a right to be skeptical over the administration’s response to the virus. Back in March he claimed the virus would just go away. He then went on to hold a rally at Tulsa in June against experts’ recommendation. And as things have slowed down, Trump now had admitted to downplaying the whole situation.
For one, Trump’s relationship with the WHO and medical experts in the CDC have gone under a lot of criticism. Back in March Trump announced that he would be terminating the relationship between the US and the WHO, blaming the organization for misinformation and questioning its legitimacy. More recently, he tried to dispute the testimony of CDC Director Robert Redfield after he had assessed that a vaccine would probably be ready by summer of 2021. In a White house press conference soon after Trump claimed that the CDC chief was wrong, “I believe he was confused,” he said.
His continuous disagreements with health experts have left many in the scientific community questioning his ability as president. In mid-September, Scientific American, one of the most popular and oldest scientific magazines in the United States, decided to endorse Joe Biden for the upcoming election. It is the first time in its 175-year history that the publication has backed a candidate, and they claimed to have made an exception this year for the sake of America’s future. “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science,” was published in their public statement.
But despite facing scrutiny for his late and weak response to the pandemic, 39.9% of Americans believe that Trump’s response to the pandemic has been appropriate and his approval ratings, although not great at 43.1%, are not the lowest a president has had at this point in their first term.
Historically, just the state of the economy alone would have been enough to send Trump home. The pandemic has caused unemployment rates to increase at drastic rates, with over 13.6 million Americans currently unemployed, over 50% of Americans have admitted to being strongly worried about the future of the economy. This uncertainty is on par with Congress failing to agree on a stimulus package to those currently in need. However, he continues to have popularity among republicans, as many still claim that he had done a lot for the economy before the pandemic had hit. At the moment, there is no way to determine whether or not his response to the pandemic will end up costing him reelection, but the current state of the virus has raised a number of other issues concerning the future of the election.
One of these concerns lies over the legitimacy over this years’ election as a whole. As experts continue to advocate for people to stay home and for state representatives to enforce policies that limit crowds and person-to-person contact in public, the question on what should be done about voting stations continues to be disputed. Nancy Pelosi and other leading democrats have been pushing for other voting alternatives such as drop-off ballot boxes and mail-in vote. Democrats have been trying to allocate more funding of the USPS as absentee ballots requests will most likely reach an all-time high this November.
Many Americans are wary of having to vote by mail, but the truth is that there is no evidence that mail-in voting has any correlation to election fraud. Some states, such as Utah, have conducted their past elections by almost entirely mail and have not found any indication of an increase in fraud. However, the Trump administration has continued to bash mail-in voting as corrupt and inaccurate, and drop-off boxes as another easy way for cheaters to vote twice. Trump has even gone as far as opposing funding for the USPS so that voting my mail won’t be as accessible and claiming that he might not accept the election’s results this upcoming November.
Yet another decisive aspect that comes into place in this election is the BLM movement protesting police brutality after the killing of George Floyd and countless of other black Americans at the hands of police. The movement has caused many democratic politicians to shift further left but has also faced backlash from republicans as in some cases, apolitical looters and arsonists have joined along with the protests, creating chaos and instilling violence
His tactics seemed to have fallen short in this area however, because while many republicans have supported him through his pandemic response, millions have disapproved of his poor response to demands for social justice. At the beginning of September ABC held a poll that found that only 13% of voters thought that Trump had made the situation better, while over 50% believed he had made it worse. There is no telling how much this will affect his results at the polls, but an overwhelming majority of Americans approved of the protests over the summer according to a Gallup poll and many are in support of police reforms and community investment, both of which Joe Biden has promised to do if elected.
For now the most tension lies in polling results coming in from swing states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona; which will most likely determine the result of the election. Both Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Trump have been trying to grasp the attention of communities within these states. At the moment, Biden has a lead in North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin and Minnesota according to recent state polls. However, the lead is very narrow, Biden leads in Florida by 1.6 points and in Pennsylvania by less than 5, definitely not high enough to dismiss worries that Biden might lose in these two key states that Trump won in the 2016 election.
There is no way of predicting what will be the result of this election, not only are there many things still up in the air, but it is also too early to tell and too much of a narrow lead between Joe Biden and Trump to determine who will be able to win those key states. And even if the polls suggest one thing let’s not forget that almost all predictions pointed to a win for Clinton four-years ago. So for now, only time will tell.