The Final Days of the 2020 Election
Credit: YAY Media AS/Alamy

The Final Days of the 2020 Election

There are only a few days remaining in this 2020 election season. It has been a very unusual presidential campaign. The party primaries were interrupted by the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The national conventions were virtual events. And one of the presidential debates was cancelled because of virus concerns and political disagreements. But on November 3, many citizens will cast their votes in federal, state, and local elections. Citizens will decide who will be the next president, and will select some members of the Senate, members of the House of Representatives, and thousands of state and local government positions.

The Second Presidential Debate

The second televised debate between President Trump and Biden was a much calmer affair than the previous debate earlier in October. The rules for this debate included muting the microphone of the person not answering the moderator’s question. In this debate, the two candidates were more focused on answering questions rather than bickering with one another.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they agreed on the issues. Biden remained very critical of the Trump administration’s handling of COVID-19. He claimed that no president who was in office when over 200,000 people have died should be reelected. President Trump said that a vaccine for COVID-19 was being developed quickly and that people were “learning to live with it [the disease].”

President Trump brought up whether Biden’s son, Hunter, used his father’s position as vice president to make money and business deals in Ukraine and China several years ago. Trump cited a recent story in the New York Post that was based on alleged emails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop.  The former vice president responded by fully denying the truth of the Post’s story and tried to switch the focus to President Trump’s tax record. Recent investigative news reports from the New York Times shows that in the last two decades Donald Trump has not paid federal taxes for ten of those years. This is due, in part to the fact that he reported more loss than profit during that time. Such economic detail contradicts the president’s portrayal of himself as a skilled businessman who has succeeded because of his skills at making good deals.  Overall, Trump had a much stronger performance in the second debate. But Biden did not make any significant mistakes in the debate and also performed well. Many commentators found no clear winner in this second debate.

The Home Stretch Efforts

Trump held live, outdoor rallies in several places in the last days of the election. He is targeting his ad money in the key Electoral College states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North Carolina. These ads are focused on last-minute persuasion of suburban woman voters—a key voting bloc that helped Trump capture the 2016 election.

Biden also broke out of his digital-only campaign strategy in the final days. Like Trump, he put a focus on key states such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina. He also held a rally in Georgia in the last week of October, in the election’s final days. Georgia has been a reliable winning state for the Republican Party in the last six presidential elections. (Georgia voted for Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, helping Clinton win the White House over George H.W. Bush.) But recent polling data by National Public Radio suggests that Georgia could be a toss-up state and might be a Biden win. If that Deep South state turns blue, it might suggest a strong Democratic performance on Election Night.

To win a bare majority in the Senate, the Democrats need a Biden win and three additional Senate wins. Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris would serve as the tiebreaker. If President Trump reclaims the White House, the Democrats need four Senate wins to hold the most seats. In Arizona, incumbent Martha McSally is being strongly challenged by Democrat Mark Kelly. Republican Lindsey Graham is facing a strong challenge from Jaime Harrison in South Carolina. In Alabama Democrat Doug Jones and Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville are fighting for the win. And there are more close Senate races in Michigan, Georgia, Montana, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina. Each of these races are very close and might be a toss-up at this point—meaning both sides evenly matched in recent polls.

Early Voting Numbers

The trend for voting early in person and mailing in ballots remains very high in this election year. As of October 28, over 60 million votes had already been submitted. That is a record for early vote totals and suggests that this might be a historic election in terms of total voter participation. (In 2016, by contrast, the number of pre-election votes was around 53 million.)

Next Tuesday will be a historic moment, no matter which candidate claims the White House and no matter which political party gains a congressional majority.

What Do You Think? Ask your parents, your teachers, and other eligible voters that you know if they have already voted. Are people you know part of this pre-election trend? If not, ask them what their voting plan is on Election Day.
David Martin

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