The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election: The Story So Far…

Cast your mind back to April 2019. Joe Biden announces he intends to run for the presidency – he has a strong following within his party, and across the world the talking heads begin rallying to his cause. With a recognised and honourable career in public office spanning 36 years as a Senator for Delaware followed by two terms as vice-president under President Barack Obama, one could easily settle for Biden when faced with the alternative. In the early months of 2019, the Trump administration had recently emerged from its second Government shutdown (also the longest in U.S. history) having been denied Senate approval for funding to construct the Mexican border wall. Following an unsuccessful attempt to surpass Congress by declaring a National Emergency, the U.S. President faced failure on different fronts as plans to replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act stagnated and White House Personnel continued to drop like flies. Only meetings with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in August acted as a saving grace in the eye of the electorate, and even those ‘discussions’ were ineffectual. Since those simpler times when toilet roll was aplenty and one had more spare change than spare masks, the Trump administration has endured scandals galore, impeachment and the threat of war in Iran even before the first mutterings of ‘Lockdown’. But Trump continues to survive and thrive on lies and disgrace despite voting polls suggesting a Biden victory on election day.

A remarkable economic surge and tough talk in debates shows he is trying to fight his way out of a corner with his eyes set upon those crucial swing states. In January 2019, Trump’s approval ratings were at an average of 39% since inauguration, the lowest of any post-war president. These approval ratings have since risen to 46% as of the latest Gallup Poll taken on the 27th of October 2020, expected as polls normally narrow in the days before an election, but curious none the less. Trump has drawn on a small economic recovery as America’s GDP grew at an annualized rate of 33.1% in the third quarter of 2020 according to a White House report. This increase set a new record for annual growth rate which more than doubled its predecessor set some 70 years ago in 1950 during the Truman presidency. However, this statistic must be considered during a time of record high unemployment, high poverty and unprecedented death rates in a country which experienced its worst ever GDP plunge in history. Therefore, the reopening of industry and business in the U.S. is, realistically, the reason behind such a meteoric rise rather than the actions of the incumbent president.

The swing states of Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina will play an essential part in this election and may also serve as early predictions as results flood in on election night with postal votes also playing an unprecedented role. According to a Times/Siena College poll Joe Biden currently leads President Trump in Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and Wisconsin; these key states have caused serious upsets over previous elections, most notably in 2016 when Trump lost the popular vote by more than 2 million votes but secured victory through the Electoral College. Polls currently predict Biden to win should the predictions for these four battleground states come to fruition but disregard the Trump campaign at your peril. The same polls of the 2016 election also predicted a democratic victory for Hillary Clinton, yet these were drastically incorrect come results night and election polls have since been regarded with suspicion for their unreliability.

Should the Democratic nominee and former Vice-President Joe Biden unseat Donald Trump, he will become the oldest ever incumbent of the presidency at the ripe old age of 78. Trump would serve his second term as the oldest ever sitting president and leave the White House aged 78, providing he lasts that long. But here’s the rub – if Biden seeks and wins re-election in 2024 he would finish aged 86 but should Trump decide to run again as he would be entitled to, he could return to the Oval Office aged 78 and leave aged 82. In either scenario the highest office in American Politics would be governed by two pensioners – a circumstance that, given the wealth of intelligent, ethical and young American politicians on the side-line, some may find ridiculous.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/White House/Andrea Widburg Flickr