The presidential elections are just around the corner. We review the strengths of the two main candidates
The United States elections, ranked as the most important in recent history, are just around the corner.
More than 90 million people have already voted early in person or by mail, more than half of the voters in the last presidential election in 2016, and record turnout figures are expected in Tuesday’s elections.
The top two candidates, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden , rush through the latest campaign events to attract the undecided.
Will it be worth the advantage that the president in charge usually has for Trump to get re-election? Will the coronavirus pandemic be the element that tips the balance in Biden’s favor?
We present 3 factors that can decide the choice for one or another candidate , starting with the possibilities of the current president.
Donald Trump: his path to re-election
1. A faithful foundation
Donald Trump’s base of supporters has held firm since the 2016 campaign, when rallies for the then-candidate had thousands upon thousands of attendees devoted to the Republican mogul’s promises.
Despite everything that has happened since then, Trump has not had major declines in popularity (nor did he have major rises), as BBC Mundo journalist Gerardo Lissardy observes.
“It is a loyal base, perhaps even more to him than to the Republican Party,” he says.
Who forms this base? It is a more complex issue than it seems at first glance, but broadly speaking, it is talking about white men without a university education and living in rural areas.
His role was decisive in the 2016 elections, especially in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, traditionally Democratic states that on that occasion turned in favor of Trump.
Throughout this campaign, and despite the current health crisis, Trump has managed to continue attracting a good number of people to his events who demonstrate with an enthusiasm similar to that of four years ago.
2. The management of the economy
This week data came to light that point to an economic recovery after the ravages caused by the pandemic.
According to information released on Thursday, the United States economy grew at an unprecedented level in the third quarter, with an increase of 7.4% of GDP , which is equivalent to an annualized rate of 33.1%.
Before the health crisis erupted, the economy was one of Trump’s great assets in securing re-election.
The president himself has recognized this in some of his speeches, in which he likes to say that the job was “practically done” before February and that he had to “get to work on the campaign” due to the rapid worsening of the economy from then.
In any case, polls show that citizens tend to trust Republican candidates more than Democrats when it comes to managing the economy and Trump has used this in his campaign to generate concern or nervousness about the possible arrival of Biden to the White House.
3. Defense of conservative values
One of the great pillars of Trump’s campaign has been to revile his opponent by calling him a socialist or puppet of the radical left of the Democratic Party.
Faced with this, the president presents himself as the only one capable of maintaining law and order and the most traditional values.
“He wants to cancel Christmas!” Trump exclaimed, referring to Biden at a recent rally.
The Republican has taken the protests against police violence that have occurred in different cities of the country in recent months to warn of the “chaos and disorder” that, according to him, the Democrats spread wherever they govern.
The fact of having managed to introduce three conservative justices to the Supreme Court in a single term also serves as a cover letter to those voters who, without agreeing with Trump’s ways, applaud these appointments for their lasting and crucial impact on the future of the country.
Joe Biden: is the third time the charm?
1. The anti-Trump vote
It is not to take away the role of the Democratic candidate, but practically all the analysts consulted by BBC Mundo agree that the main factor that can give Biden victory is the deep rejection of Donald Trump , not only from the Democrats but also from a sector of disenchanted Republicans.
The elections in which the president aspires to a second term, which historically is usually achieved, are a referendum on his management.
In Trump’s case, low popularity ratings indicate that he may lose that referendum, especially because of his handling of the coronavirus , which he insists on downplaying despite the country’s death toll exceeding 225,000.
“It is definitely a vote against Trump,” Robert Shapiro, professor of Political Science at Columbia University, tells BBC Mundo.
“People are more motivated to kick him out. There’s the Lincoln Project, a group founded and made up of Republicans who don’t necessarily support Biden’s agenda, but want Trump to leave. “
It should be clarified that the official support of the Republican Party for Trump is indisputable, but there are more and more voices of figures who once had weight in the formation, who admit that they are going to vote for the Democratic Party for the first time.
The last of them was former senator Jeff Flake, who posted a video on social media Thursday in which he explained why he decided to vote for Biden in a disputed state like Arizona.
2. Ability to mobilize a broad coalition
According to data from the US Elections Project, more than 90 million Americans had voted early, by mail or in person, by the end of this week.
This is a higher figure than the total anticipated votes in the 2016 elections, despite the fact that there are still a few days left for the elections.
“There is a belief that high turnout benefits Democrats, and vice versa,” says Matthew Record, professor of social sciences at San Jose State University in California.
This is not an exact science: We do not know if those early votes are for the Democratic candidate or if they simply indicate that voters are being more cautious about the threat of the coronavirus and prefer to vote rather than wait for election day.
In any case, the public seems more motivated, and Joe Biden, with his conciliatory and united message, has been able to win the support of a diverse range of sectors that did not feel so called to vote for the Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 .
His moderate character, moreover, allows him to attract center Democrats and even Republicans for whom Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren represent the most left wing of the Democratic Party.
3. The pandemic
During the election campaign, it has become clear that Biden’s way of dealing with the covid-19 pandemic is totally opposite to that of President Trump.
Not only in the forms – he constantly appears with a mask, organizes rallies in which attendees participate from their cars and remembers the victims of the disease in his speeches – but also in his proposals to manage the crisis.
Both he and the vice presidential candidate, Kamala Harris , or former President Barack Obama have stressed time and again in campaign events the mistakes made by the Trump administration and its inability to stop the spread of the virus.
A message that will possibly have an echo in important groups of the electorate that have been most affected by this crisis, especially the elderly, who seem to opt for the Democratic candidate.
Even more so when the president has used his last campaign rallies to mock the attention paid to the pandemic.
“Covid, covid, covid! The media only talk about that! ” , criticizes Trump, at the same time that the figures of daily infections in multiple states of the country mark records higher than the data of March.
A panorama that presents a discouraging horizon for the coming months, no matter how much the president insists that “the curve is already bending” and the pandemic will soon be overcome.