Dubai: With just days to go before the US presidential elections, political pundits, news channels, professors, astrologers and just about everyone are asking the same question: Who will win – Donald Trump or Joe Biden?
When answering this question, many find it difficult to set aside their personal biases, and instead end up saying: ‘who should win’, rather than ‘who will win’. The two are completely different questions.
Sitting thousands of kilometres away from the scene of action, we have been following the poll campaign with interest. Much is at stake in this election. Urgent steps need to be taken to stop the staggering number of deaths due to the coronavirus, the economy needs to be shored up and issues regarding race relations must be addressed.
Here’s what Gulf News editors have to say about the eventual winner of the US presidential elections, 2020.
The lesser of two evils…
Imran Malik, Assistant Editor
Trump or Biden. It’s a bit like choosing between being punched in the face, or the stomach. You wouldn’t really want either.
I think Americans will be hate-voting again just as they did in 2016. They'll be casting their votes not for the candidate that they actually like, but rather against the one they dislike.
Four years ago, millions didn't check a box at all because choosing between Hillary and Donald proved impossible. It feels the same this time but, Biden must win because he’d be less awful than another Trump administration. Right?
It’s a bit like choosing between being punched in the face, or the stomach
Trump has been one of the most controversial presidents in US history. He was impeached. His handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous. He wanted to inject people with disinfectant. He failed the country following the murder of George Floyd. If all that wasn't bad enough, he once quipped that if Ivanka wasn’t his daughter, he’d date her…
Biden has a well-documented past of confusing and embarrassing moments too such as thinking 200 million people in the US - which has a population of 328 million - have died from COVID-19. He thinks the virus came from “Luhan”. He brands himself a "gaffe machine" and it’s easy to see why Trump thinks ‘Sleepy Joe’ has dementia. Verbal blunders aside, this man voted for the Iraq war. Who would he pick a fight with if he was elected?
He has a hefty lead in national and state polls which suggests the Republicans will lose control of the White House.
A win for Joe, then. It's a jab in the midriff. Hopefully it hurts less than a smack on the jaw. Here's to another lousy four years...
In the gladiatorial combat, it is advantage Biden
Sadiq Shaban, Opinion Editor
Whether or not Donald Trump wins a second term in a few days’ time, he has already left a divisive legacy. Decades from now students of political science shall study his disruptive, iconoclastic role in reshaping America — and the world beyond.
The world is currently faced with a devastating pandemic that has sapped people’s morale. With more than 40 million COVID-19 cases and over a million people already dead, anxiety and dread has gripped nations. Amidst this doom and gloom, we are witness to one of the most decisive elections of our times.
America faces an epic choice in an election that is going to have global repercussions. Democratic challenger Joe Biden currently leads the incumbent Donald Trump in the national polls but the US president is a survivor. The challenge is formidable.
Economy is going to be Trump's Achilles heel
A few things may tilt the result in Biden’s favour — Trump’s handling of the pandemic and the state of American economy. A majority of Americans, opinion polls suggest, remain unimpressed by Trump’s COVID response. Till date more than 230,000 people have died on this president’s watch as he continued to play the pandemic down until he himself tested positive for the virus. Economy is going to be his Achilles heel. The US economy fell into a recession in the first half of 2020 and is still far below its pre-pandemic level. That is hurting a whole lot of people. Racial justice is another key issue where Trump inspires no confidence.
Winner takes all
The US presidential election is decided by the Electoral College — an institution that showcases America’s design as a federal republic. It is a winner-takes-all system and it would be fair to say that the US presidential elections are decided not by the popular vote but by the Electoral College.
While traditionally Red and Blue states choose Republican or Democratic presidential candidates respectively, all eyes are on Battleground or Swing states — mainly Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where voters can go either way.
Biden leads the poll averages by a good margin in Michigan (+8.1 points), Pennsylvania (+5.3 points), and Wisconsin (+4.6 points). A week before the election Trump only holds a narrow lead in Ohio (0.6 points). At FiveThirtyEight, leading US poll forecaster, the odds of Biden winning the presidential elections are 88%, while The Economist forecasts the Democratic nominee having a 94% chance of winning the Electoral College.
Trump still has a 10-12% chance of winning and mind you — anything can happen in that tight band. Let us not forget that Amy Coney Barrett was recently confirmed as the Justice of the US Supreme Court by a slim margin of 52-48. Together the 48 senators who cast their vote against her represent 13 million more people than the 52 senators who voted for her!
While Biden enjoys a huge advantage over Trump and is leading the president by staggering odds, he still has an uphill task. On November 3, the Electoral College will decide the result of that task. Meanwhile the world, all masked up, awaits the results.
Why Trump will lose the election this week
Omar Shariff, International Editor
When Donald Trump became the Republican presidential nominee in early 2016, I could barely contain my amusement. I was certain Hillary Clinton was going to win. Then, on a family visit to the United States in July of 2016, we decided to take a road trip through states like Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Kansas and Montana. This was an America totally different from what I had seen before - rural Wyoming could have been on a different planet than southern California. It was during this trip that I realised not only was Trump a serious candidate, he could actually win.
Fast forward four years, and too much water has flown under the bridge. The world has been treated to a US presidency like no other. Chaotic internally, disruptive on the international scene, this administration has been in a continuous state of flux for the past four years.
Chaotic internally, disruptive on the international scene, this administration has been in a continuous state of flux for the past four years
Let’s just put aside the international question for now (foreign policy has traditionally played a marginal role in how US voters cast their ballot). Domestically, there were many things going for Trump, especially when it came to job creation and the stock market. He delivered on some of his big promises. But, that was until early this year. The onset of COVID-19 wiped out many of these gains and the bumbling, unbelievably inept way in which the world’s only hyper-power has managed the crisis, despite its phenomenal resources, shocked many - especially the non-ideological ones who voted for Trump because they could not stand Hillary.
The fact is 230,000 Americans are dead due to coronavirus, and someone will have to pay. To add to all this, the protests against institutional racism in the US against African Americans after the ugly murder of George Floyd by a white policeman galvanised people. Many fence-sitters are likely to have taken note, and made up their mind to vote Democrat for this reason.
Based on the above, I believe Donald Trump will lose the 2020 presidential election.
US president should be for all Americans, not just a select few
Manuel Almario, Senior News Editor
The pendulum will swing towards Joe Biden in the US elections. Biden has a track record for being able to work on both sides of the aisle with both Democrats and Republicans. After four years of putting up with US President Donald Trump pandering to his base, a majority of voters feel Trump is a President for few and not all Americans. Voters will state their opinions loud and clear that enough is enough and will look to Biden. Throughout the campaign, Biden’s message has been to lead as a President for “All Americans, not just a few”. America has become more polarised in terms of economic status and ideology, but there is a growing sense of coming back together and its citizens are looking for a leader who can do that.
On COVID-19 crisis, Trump continues to downplay the pandemic, blaming everyone else in the world but he still has over 225,000 American deaths on his hands. All he had to say was wear a mask and thousands less would have died. We need time to develop a vaccine to cure the coronavirus. Trump did nothing to allow a strategy to be formulated and often worked against the safety of US citizens.
Let’s face it, it is now out of Trump’s hands
On the economic front, Trump’s strongest argument for re-election is on how well the US economy performed under his administration. One could argue that the richest Americans and biggest corporations benefited the most. Poorer Americans continue to struggle and many did not see improvements in their day-to-day lives. Biden argues that he wants to keep taxes low for most Americans but raise taxes on those who earn above $400,000 (Dh1,470,000) per year. There is a balance to be found. If Biden is elected, he will need to proceed with caution. If he tinkers too much with taxing corporations and the richest Americans, then the economy will decline.
In retrospect, Trump’s tall promises that he will “Make America Great Again” didn’t happen. Trump’s triumph will plummet America into a “great depression” mainly because he failed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and the dwindling economy. Although it’s inevitable and unfortunate, it happened under his administration. He could have done something more to save millions of lives. If he could have only listened to health experts and acted quickly to restrict travel. If he could have only mandated everyone to wear face masks to protect everybody from the virus. If he could have only used his power to gather all scientists to unite and make effective vaccines fast, perhaps the coronavirus could have been contained.
Let’s face it, it is now out of Trump’s hands. The fact is that the US is probably one of the worst-hit countries in the world with 9.2 million coronavirus cases to date and a death toll of 230,000. Due to these shocking irreversible numbers, it is time for the American people to say: Trump, you are fired! Your term as president is over. Let Biden be in charge.
Trump may just scrape through
Alex Abraham, Senior Associate Editor
Predicting elections through opinion polls is not the same as polling on Election Day. For the past few months we have been inundated with polls predicting a comfortable win for Democratic contender Joe Biden. In fact, many news organisations don’t even give President Donald Trump an outside chance of victory.
But is the scene so clear this year that we don’t even need to follow what happens on polling day? Doing so will be foolhardy, as was seen in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was ahead in the opinion polls and won the popular vote, but not the required number of Electoral College votes.
Large numbers of people have already voted either through mail-in votes or by casting early ballots. Who did they vote for? Does this mean that many more will come out on Election Day? What we can decipher at the moment is that there is a greater interest in having a say through the ballot this year, than in the past.
When people vote, they will likely ask themselves the most pertinent question: Will there be food on the table tomorrow?
On the face of it, there are many factors that go against Trump, chief among them being his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and race relations. But will people judge him only on these issues or also on the economy and job creation?
COVID-19 has hit every single person in the world, irrespective of country, language, religion or class. Needless to say, the US has been badly hit too. But when people vote, they will likely ask themselves the most pertinent question: Will there be food on the table tomorrow? The candidate who helps answer this question best will be in the White House next year. Both Trump and Biden have promised to create millions of jobs if elected. Who do the voters trust to deliver this?
The way the Electoral College works also adds to the uncertainty. Winning key swing states can change the scenario in favour of Trump or Biden.
One point not spoken about much is the visibility of the presidential candidate during campaigning. COVID-19 has restricted the campaign to a great degree, but it was Trump who was among the people, tossing his cap to the audience, stirring them up with rhetoric and promising to make America great again. Despite being hospitalized after being tested positive for COVID-19, his appearance on the campaign trail helped drive home his message that the coronavirus is not something to be feared.
The sanitised, drive-through events of Joe Biden were in stark contrast to this.
Ultimately, when people vote they will remember all this and more. Trump may just scrape through on the promise of a better tomorrow.