Democracy should not be about the application of the law of the majority, but about the protection of the minorityAlbert Camus
With less than 30 days before the US elections take place, the outlook remains unpredictable. On Tuesday, September 29, the first debate between the two presidential candidates was held, and on Friday, October 2, Trump surprised the world by announcing that he had been infected and was sick with COVID-19.
There is no doubt that last week was negative for Trump. His performance in the debate was too dirty and aggressive and it just raises the question to American voters whether they are willing to put up with another four years of this. Attacking Biden’s sons was a terrible mistake: It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat, the family is sacred territory that should not be traspassed, especially when one of the children is dead and received high accolades for his military service in Iraq.
After the debate, Biden’s advantage grew even stronger. According to the political analysis firm FiveThirtyEight, as of October 5, 2020 Biden has an 81% chance of winning. Other national polls also show Biden with a significant advantage. In particular older white folks, a group that helped propel Trump to victory in 2016, have shown strong signs of disapproval of the president’s handling of the pandemic. It must be remembered that in the American electoral system, winning the majority of the popular vote does not automatically translate into a victory, as happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden will have to take care of winning the famous “swing states” and ensure at least 270 votes of the Electoral College.
As of early October, Biden appears to have 123 votes secured (California 55, New York 29, Illinois 20, Washington 12 and Oregon 7), while Trump appears to have 73 votes secured (Tennessee 11, Alabama 9, Louisiana 8, Kentucky 8, Oklahoma 7, Arkansas 6, Missouri 6, West Virginia 5, Idaho 4, North Dakota 3, South Dakota 3 and Wyoming 3). However, there are many other states with important votes that are not yet fully defined (Texas 38, Florida 29, Pennsylvania 20, Georgia 16, North Carolina 15, Ohio 18, Arizona 11 and Wisconsin 10). In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Trump won by very narrow margins in 2016, today Biden is leading by 5 and 6 points, respectively. The race is even tighter in Arizona, a state that only one Democratic presidential candidate has won in the last 70 years, and Ohio, where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 8 points in 2016. Other major contested states include North Carolina, which has voted Republican in 9 of the last 10 presidential elections, as well as in Florida and Texas, where Covid cases soared over the summer, affecting the president’s popularity. Some post-debate polls have found Biden leading by seven points in Pennsylvania and by five points in Florida.
The Covid diagnosis for Trump will undoubtedly have an impact on the race, but this can also be unpredictable. On one hand, it negatively affects him by putting Covid back at the center of the electoral agenda, emphasizing once again what the Democratic candidate has said: That the President has taken the disease very lightly, that not all precautionary measures have been taken, and therefore this has resulted in the death of 200,000 Americans. And it will also remove the president from his face-to-face tours of different states, which will have a very disruptive impact on his campaign, because the main political marketing tool of the Trump campaign is President Trump himself. On the other hand, whenever there is a sick president, there may be a slight spike in public sympathy because of the illness. We observed that with Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom and with Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, who rebounded in popularity after falling ill.
For sure the election will be close and may still be influenced by surprise factors that we could see in the coming weeks. The fact that so many polls give Biden the lead could create a negative effect, causing many of his supporters not to go out to vote thinking that the election is already won. Another highly speculative scenario is that, in the event of a closed election, Trump does not accept the results and intends to take the matter to the Supreme Court, thinking that it may be easier to obtain a victory through legal strategies. Meanwhile in Mexico, it seems that we have already made our bet since May and we only have to cross our fingers and observe what happens in our huge neighbor and main commercial partner. The consequences of the November election will also be very interesting for Mexico.
Managing Partner of Nuricumbo + Partners. His work as a consultant has focused around CFO services and challenges, in companies of all sizes, both in Mexico and abroad. He began his career at PWC. Later, he held the position of internal audit manager for Young & Rubicam and The Interpublic Group, two international advertising groups, working for five years in New York City and performing audit projects in many countries.