2020 US ELECTIONS BRIEFING REPORT

Updated: Mar 30, 2021


For a clearer view of the programs, also check out our detailed comparisons:

US Presidential Election 2020




Introduction


For most of its lustrous history the United States of America has never quite heard the sound of an alarm as loud as the one which started ringing at the turn of the decade. Since its formation as an independent entity made up of historic cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, the ‘Land of The Free’ has always progressed steadily yet dynamically, similar to a well-oiled machine. It started as one of the original thirteen British colonies, acquired thousands of acres of land in the Louisiana purchase, spread like wildfire towards the sun-rich west coast, built factories, developed its economy and became the true leader of the planet. It is however, the same American resilience and dynamism which is threatening its demise, incapable to adjust to the ecosystem of the modern world of 2020 giving us the impression that, much like the Greeks, Romans, Mongolians and British, there comes a point in every great empire’s life were it has to lay down the baton for its successor to pick up and deal the final blow. In times like these, the world has a tendency to look for its next leader, a saviour if you will and with elections coming up on November 3rd, it seems as though the American people are ready for a fresh start, characterised by equality, safety and prosperity for all the question is however, who will that saviour be?




The democratic process


The Voting Process At a Glance,

● There are two main ways in which U.S. citizens can participate in this year’s elections:

a. Voting on Election Day

■ This traditionally dominant form of voting has garnered criticism due to its high risks for public health and safety, both for voters and poll workers alike.

b. Absentee and Early Voting

■ Both of these have become increasingly popular as Election Day draws nearer, due to their ‘mail-in’ nature.

■ These do involve extra hurdles as state legislation for both can vary significantly and it is ultimately up to individual voters to check for availability, validity, and regulations.

A Longer Look,

● Critiques of in-person voting have rightfully pointed out the hazards and implications of this method, while acclaiming the benefits of mail-in ballots. However, this simple solution comes with its own array of difficulties.

a. Logistics

■ Mail-In ballots and their rising demand are an attempt to adapt to modern circumstances.

■ However, the often confusing and unclear regulations surrounding their validity and availability have placed an additional boundary between voters and their constitutional rights.

b. Voter Suppression

■ Donald Trump has been at the head of a smear campaign against mail-in voting, which, added to other representative’s active battle against the widespread use of these ballots, has started a public outcry against voter suppression.

■ This, unfortunately, is nothing new. For citizens in predominantly black neighbourhoods of Georgia, among others, voter suppression has been consistent and unapologetic.1 1 Bethea, C. (2020)

c. Legal Challenge

■ Through the aforementioned defamation of mail-in voting, he has laid the groundwork for a legal challenge, exaggerating their liability for fraud and falsification in order to contest any possible outcome.

Ultimately,

● Although mail-in ballots are a well established voting resource, their recent increase in demand comes as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as an attempt to mitigate the risks to all involved.

● That said, these ideas have faced political pushback, citing a variety of shortcomings which is, at best, a severe mistake of negligence with the safety of the public at stake, and at worse, another symptomatic case of Trump’s shameless pursuit of power.




Joe Biden


  • Joseph R Biden is currently 77 years and was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania

  • Involved in politics since the early 70’s, Joe Biden has held previous government posts including former Vice President of the Unites States during the Obama administration and six terms as a senator from Delaware.

  • Biden presents himself as a well seasoned presidential candidate capable of navigating the country through the uncertain and challenging future ahead of the pandemic.

  • Biden is popular for his capability to relate and empathise with the working class and his pragmatic and balanced persona.

  • Signature policies: Developing the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, increasing economic protection of workers and reducing economic burden on the working class, to achieve a 100 % green economy and net zero emissions and the passage of a comprehensive bill to reform the criminal justice system.



Donald Trump


  • Donald J. Trump was born in Queens, New York, on June 14, 1946 (74 years of age).

  • He is currently the 45th President of the USA and assumed office on January 20 2017after a controversial victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

  • Entered the political scene shortly after accumulating a substantial amount of his wealth and prestige through real estate, hospitality and various other investments.

  • Rather obscurely, Trump has alternated between political affiliations more frequently than one would expect, debuting as a Republican in Manhattan in 1987, switching to the Reform Party in 1999, then the Democrats in 2001, and back to the Republican Party in 2009.

  • Positioned by most in the Authoritarian-Right side of the political compass, as supported by many of his protectionist, conservative policies; An avid supporter of the free market mechanisms.

  • Signature policies: Dismantling environmental regulations, Market de-regulation, repealing the Affordable Care act, America First, trade agreement pursuit with China and the appointment of conservative Judges in the Supreme Court and some courts below it.



The clash of policies

Donald Trump

“Keep America Great”

Economy:

  • Extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which is set to expire in 2025.

  • Create 10 million jobs in 10 months.

  • Prohibit federal contract to firms that outsource to China.

  • Tax cuts for firms that “bring jobs from China back to America”.

  • “Cut taxes to boost take-home pay and keep jobs in America”.


Immigration:

  • In his first term, the Trump administration introduced a “zero tolerance” policy which led to the separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Signed an executive order in 2017, banning people from seven countries, mostly Muslim-majority countries, from entering the USA.

  • Trump plans to tighten restrictions on foreign workers, making it harder for firms to sponsor H-1B visas and hire foreign workers.

  • Continue putting pressure on ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions that limit local law enforcement cooperation with ICE.


Environment:

  • In 2017, the US withdrew from the Paris Agreement.

  • Trump dismantled environmental regulations put in place by former President Barack Obama.

  • The Trump administration is not enforcing some environmental laws due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

  • Issued an executive order “establishing the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council” which calls for conservation and forest restoration of one trillion trees by 2030.

  • In 2018, Trump signed the ‘Save Our Seas Act’ which funds $10 million per year to reduce marine debris.

  • Signed the Great American Outdoors Act which provides up to $1.9 million per year to preserve and protect US national parks.

  • The Trump administration has invested $38 billion in the EPA’s “clean water infrastructure” project.

Joe Biden

“Build Back Better”

Economy:

  • Increase corporation tax from 21% to 28%.

  • Raise taxes for those making over $400,000 a year.

  • Invest $400 billion in additional federal purchases of products made by American workers.

  • Expand the child tax credit from $2000-$3000 for children aged 6-17 and $3600 for children under 6.

Immigration:

  • Make DACA program permanent.

  • Offer a path to U.S. citizenship through legislative immigration reform for over 11 million undocumented people living in the United States.

  • Develop $4 billion regional strategy to tackle the root causes driving migration from Central America.

  • Promises executive order to reunite the 545 migrant children-separated by the Trump administration under its “zero tolerance” policy-with their missing parents.

  • Increase training and oversight of ICE and Customs and Border Protection.

  • Rescind the travel and refugee bans, also referred to as “Muslim bans”.

Environment:

  • Re-join the Paris Agreement.

  • Committed to ensure the USA achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050.

  • Invest $2 trillion in sustainable infrastructure to achieve these environmental goals.




Expected outcome


Who will come out on top?:

With the US 2020 election coming to a draw as voters cast their votes on the 3rd of November what will the future of the USA look like in the next term of office. The Economist, who analyse polling, economic and demographic data to predict the outcome have forecasted predictions for the President, Senate and the House of Representatives by devising a model.

Joe Biden is ahead of Donald Trump in the national polls in the electoral college with 52% and The Economist forecasting a 96% chance of Biden winning. Additionally the model predicts the Democrats are likely to have a majority in both the Senate (with a 75% chance) as well as the House of Representatives (with a 99% chance).

Swing states-who are they and why are they important?:

Though Biden is seeming to take a lead in the polls, this is no guarantee of his victory as President. In the 2016 election Hilary Clinton was also seen to have a definitive lead over Trump in the polls yet she lost in the electoral college.

Due to this uncertainty, the outcome is likely to be highly dependent on a few swing states which suggest they will be targeted heavily in these last few days by campaigners as the election comes to a close.

The swing states are all states in which Trump narrowly beat Clinton in the 2016 election and thus will be crucial in helping one of the candidates secure their position as President.

The states where the election could be won or lost are:

  • Arizona

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Michigan

  • Minnesota

  • North Carolina

  • Pennsylvania

  • Wisconsin

A quick breakdown of the first Presidential Debate:

The debate was held on the 29th of September under Covid-19 preventative measures. The topics covered included Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the Covid-19 pandemic, the current Black Lives Matter movement, climate change and the impacts of mail-in ballots in the election.

A key take away from this debate was the appalling reaction it had from viewers across the world with The Times in the UK claiming “The clearest loser from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden was America.” As well as the French newspaper, Liberation characterizing it as “Chaotic, childish, gruelling.”

The first results of the CNN poll on the debate showed 60% of debate watchers saying Joe Biden won the debate and 28% of voters saying Donald Trump won the debate. A key note to point out that in this sample of debate watchers there were 39% democratic watchers and 25% republican watchers.

A quick breakdown of the second Presidential Debate:

With the second Presidential debate being cancelled initially it was then held on the 22nd of October. This debate was filled with topics such as foreign interference in the election, the economy, candidate’s personal finances and of course the current pandemic.

Having received a largely negative reaction to the first debate there was far less outrage in this debate compared to the last one. That isn’t to say that the volume did not increase further into the debate.

The impact of this debate having been delayed is not likely to have had much impact on the election as over 48 million citizens would have already voted via mail-in ballots and very few are still unsure.




DC’s main goal is to decode encrypted news for an enlightened citizen

Chantal Cotta Carvalho, Warwick University

Fernando Mendez, Warwick University

Michael Valmas, Warwick University

Nia Thomas, University of Bristol

Niralee Shah , Warwick University

01/11/2020




Resources & Bibliography: