The 2020 Presidential Race Will Be Unlike Anything We Have Seen Before
We are reaching the climax of what has been one of the most interesting election seasons in recent memory. Even before we reached the point of virus-related rescheduling and interruption, it has been a fun one to watch as a political observer.
Aside from all the spectacle, there are some real issues that hang in the balance and make this upcoming election more important than any in the past.
We are dealing with one of the greatest challenges of our time in the COVID-19 pandemic. It has fundamentally changed the way we live our life on a daily basis. It has changed the very nature of our interactions with other humans. Also, it will n doubt impact how we vote. That impact on the normalcy of voting could very well be the most pressing concern of the upcoming election.
How Will The Virus Change How We Vote?
The days of casually walking into your polling place and dropping your ballot into a box, getting your sticker from the old lady, and going about your business, are over. Virus concerns are likely to be different in November and vary wildly from state to state. You will more than likely see the political battle as to how to reorganize the election fall into two camps. One, where elected officials and those that support them want to maintain the status quo. They will attempt to remind us that our patriotic duty to the voting process should override our fear of contracting COVID-19. The other camp will be people who want to open up new opportunities for people to vote in order to overcome the effect that a virus has on potential voter turnout. This will be the camp that advises people to be able to vote early, or by mail. They will always be the ones pushing for longer voting hours and more polling locations. Who will win? Which side will prevail? What does that mean a specific candidate you do or do not like? It all depends.
It Is All About Turnout
This election won't be decided by who has the most money in the bank or who does best at the debate (if we even have one). This election will be determined by turnout. It will all come down to who can get the most of their supporters counted on election day. Sounds super simple and maybe a little bit obvious? Let me explain.
On a state by state basis, what the election will look like in November is being formed. This process is part of the political wrangling as is. It may as well be considered of the campaign at this point. Trump supporters will lobby for normalcy, they will point to inaccurate or often just made up statistics about voter fraud and assert that it will run rampant if additional paths to voting are opened up. Biden supporters will say this is in an unprecedented time in our democracy and it demands unprecedented action.
Does Trump Incumbency Hurt or Help?
Being an incumbent in a political race is almost always positive. It allows you to have a campaign already built and a steady base of supporters who you can reliably expect to show up to the polls and extol the virtues of your candidacy to others. Often, this is not, however, a perfect gift without any strings attached. With the incumbency comes detractors. People who have seen your stint in public policy and are now going to be able to for the first time, make a judgment call on it.
Much has been written, and rightly so, about the conviction and intensity of Trump's support. Trump acknowledged himself that he could "shoot someone on 5th avenue" and still be fine politically. He isn't wrong. Polls have shown wide support for Trump during scandals and issues that would have surely buried other politicians. He also saw an increase in approval numbers during the early stages of this pandemic. That increase has since settled down but is impossible at the time of writing (May 3rd, 2020) to know if Trump will be able to continue to ride out the storm of this virus without suffering any political ramifications. Looking back at the past and taking into account his approval rating has already dropped, it would be safe to assume that this issue hurts the president.
Certainly, the Trump team would love to be running for reelection without an economy in shambles and market volatility at an all-time high. They had pinned much of their reelection hopes on what was at the time a very strong economy. That all changed at the end of March. Now the conversation that Trump has to have is that he is the right person for the job of handling our economy, which is a tough conversation given everything going on around him. It has shifted the focus from Trump being able to brag about his economic accomplishments, to Trump talking about how much worse things could have been.
The Other Guy
This election is not just a referendum on Trump, it is a choice between two people. The Democrats had initially had an incredibly deep field which has been shrunk down to Joe Biden being the front runner and having the endorsements of the other candidates. Joe Biden was a popular VP and a very liked person in democratic circles. Questions have lingered about his age and mental capability. He is gaffe-prone and his campaign has seen far less enthusiasm then they would like at this point.
In The End
It will come down to which force is stronger. Is the desire to remove Trump from office regardless of the excitement levels of the alternative strong enough to overcome Trumps staunch support? And even if it is, will that be reflected given the changing environment of voting in this country, specifically as it pertains to this disease. Regardless, it will be interesting to watch and will no doubt be a source the source of Facebook arguments for years to come.