Although close to 100 million votes have already been cast, today is the official election day for the United States. It marks a referendum on Donald Trump’s straight-talking yet convoluted and divisive presidency, with Democratic candidate Joe Biden urging Americans to restore “our democracy.”
“I have a feeling we’re coming together for a big win tomorrow,” Biden said on Monday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “It’s time to stand up and take back our democracy.”
Despite that plea, with this election likely to see more voters at the polls than any previous election, it would seem that democracy is actually alive and well in the US.
But the country is considered to be more divided and on edge than at any time since the Vietnam War era of the 1970s. Fears on the Democrat side that Trump could dispute the result of the election and fears on the Republican side that the election will be stolen through them particularly though postal voting are intensifying those tensions on both sides.
If Trump loses this election he will be the fist one-term president since George Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992. Bush lost that election mainly because of a third candidate, Ross Perot, who took away many Republican votes and basically handed Clinton victory.
Prior to that Jimmy Carter became the first one-term president in decades (if you don’t include John Kennedy who was assassinated in his first term), when he lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980. That loss was largely due to a flagging economy combined with an embarrassing failed military rescue of American hostages being held in Iran.
Biden, 77, is the frontrunner according to most opinion polls, which put him about 10 points ahead of Trump. His campaigning style has been minimalist to the extreme, having socially distancing in effect at poorly-attended campaign rallies.
Though Trump has been pretty much hated by many Democrats from the very offset, with thousands marching in Washington DC the day after his inauguration chanting “Not my president”, all of the much hated style and substance of the Trump presidency has ben sidelined to concentrate instead on his handling of the coronavirus.
Biden’s message has been that the US needs to regain its “soul” and have new leadership to beat back the pandemic which is believed to have killed more than 231,000 people.
In contrast to Biden’s laidback-style, Trump has been running a frenetic campaign and held packed rallies in four states yesterday.
Trump, 74, has tried various tactics to win votes — his much-anticipated ‘October surprise’ was emails from Biden’s son Hunter that seemed to implicate Biden himself in receiving money from Ukraine and possible Russia and China. But that got no traction, thanks largely to the media not picking up on the story.
Trump has also tried to paint Biden as a leader on the verge of senility who will take the United States into socialism, but that too has had little effect. And he has tried to show how the economy is quickly recovering from Covid-19, and that Biden will put the country into some type of lockdown, destroying the economy just as it is improving.
But the fact is that , while he has a strong base, Trump is finding it difficult to win new voters. Biden appears to be getting more traction by trying to win over that slender slice of undecided voters, who are taken aback by how the United States has handled the pandemic crisis. That is the elephant in the room. Trump has had little choice but to avoid that elephant and try to distract voters with other considerations.
While everyone seems to accept that Trump may well lose the popular vote, it is still seen as possible for him to win through the electoral college, just as he did in 2016.
So it is in the key battleground states that both candidates have been concentrating their efforts. And Trump is preparing Americans for a long battle ahead if Biden wins, by saying that he is calling in the lawyers from now.
Of vital interest will be Florida, which the Republicans have to win to have any possibility of winning the election, and Pennsylvania.
But Trump is still hopeful that he can pull another rabbit out of the hat and win this election.
“We’re going to have another beautiful victory tomorrow,” Trump told a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan early on Tuesday morning. crowd, “We love you! We love you! We love you” yelled the crowd.
“We’re going to make history once again,” Trump said.
“It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home,” Biden told supporters at a rally in Cleveland on Monday.
“We’re done with the chaos! We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility,” he said.
“The first step to beating the virus is defeating Donald Trump!” Biden told a drive-in rally in Pennsylvania.
Trump himself is planning to be at his campaign headquarters in Virginia on election day today, while Biden is expected to be at his birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania — which Trump actually visited yesteday.