By Teodor Ispas.
The clock is ticking and with each hour that passes the election day is drawing nearer. Earlier this week, I wrote about ‘5 Potential Reasons Why Trump Could Win’ and get re-elected. However, on the interest of balance, and as this is one of the most unpredictable and tumultuous US elections in recent times, there is also a strong case to be made in Biden’s favour.
It is worth mentioning that in the United States, the general historical trend is that incumbent presidents do get re-elected. In the country’s entire history, there have been only three presidents that have stood for re-election and lost: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. Nevertheless, Joe Biden’s campaign has been strong, and despite this trend, overhauling Trump is more than just a possibility. With that said, here are the five reasons why Biden could win the presidential election, marking Trump within history as the 4th incumbent to not win re-election.
1. He is currently leading in the polls.
Before specific arguments are made, two key points need to be stated. Firstly, it is true that the popular vote does not declare a winner. Instead, every president is determined by the electoral college system. It would be easy then to think that the national polls do not matter at all when it comes to US presidential elections. However, in Biden’s case, he is doing very well in electoral college polls as well, overtaking Trump in several crucial swing states including Georgia. The only swing state where Trump currently has a lead in polls in North Carolina, but Biden remains behind by only one point. This is a considerable improvement for the Democrats, compared to four years ago.
This brings me to my second point which is concerned with Hillary Clinton. In hindsight, it should not have been so surprising that she ended up losing the 2016 election. While yes, she was doing well in the national polls, the electoral college polls showed her as being behind Trump by a considerable number of points in the swing states that ultimately determined the outcome of the election. Not many people paid attention to this detail then, so it is paramount to highlight it now. Not only is Biden doing better than Clinton in most of those polls, he is doing better than Trump. This is one of the reasons why some political analysts, such as Allan Lichtman, believe that he will beat Trump and become the 46th President of the US.
2. He has the challenger’s advantage.
In truth, despite it usually being incredibly difficult to run against an incumbent president, Joe Biden has an advantage. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the tragic loss of over 200,000 American lives and it has led to a plummeting national economy. This has shifted the focus. Now, Biden isn’t the candidate that has to explain himself or his actions to the voting public. Trump is. What Biden has instead had to do throughout his campaign, is challenge the status quo, whilst proving that he is a better option than Trump. Which is exactly what he has been doing. By deploying a clear and simple message, Biden has effectively challenged Trump’s Covid policies and inconsistent positions. Furthermore, he has provided a different economic alternative to the current administration’s economic plans.
It is very clear that the current president campaigned better and came across more confident in 2016 in the challenger’s role than he is doing now. His initial attempts to copy and paste his 2016 strategies have been met with a hard truth: it is impossible to challenge the status quo when you are the status quo.
Recent events have meant that the burden of proof now lies with Trump. Not only does he need to convince the electorate that he has been doing a good job, but he also needs to convince them that his plans for the next four years are better than those which Biden is proposing – and Trump has been struggling. His campaign has been considerably inconsistent, with the incumbent contradicting himself in multiple speeches, having a hard time finding the right slogan and going through multiple incoherent changes. “Make America great again, again” was circulated as an option, which ultimately exposed some of the difficulties that the Republican Party has had in building Trump a strong campaigning position. It is very clear that the current president campaigned better and came across more confident in 2016 in the challenger’s role than he is doing now. His initial attempts to copy and paste his 2016 strategies have been met with a hard truth: it is impossible to challenge the status quo when you are the status quo. This has hindered some of Trump’s momentum, putting Biden in a more comfortable position as the challenger.
3. The Covid-19 Crisis.
As aforementioned, the pandemic will play an important role in the outcome of this election. It is very hard to quantify just how much damage Trump’s varying and erratic policies to combat the spread of the virus have had. It is clear, however, that his changeable attitudes towards the pandemic have had a severe impact on how the electorate perceives him. If anything, Covid has exposed the limits of his brash and divisive persona.
Additionally, the fact that he never really stopped campaigning after winning in 2016, had already annoyed some of his supporters and alienated others. With the current crisis, many people had expected Trump to calm the tensions and come up with solutions that would impact everyone, regardless of party colour. He, on the other hand, failed to deliver this and continued with the same messages that divided the country in the first place. This was emphasised during the second presidential debate, as when criticised by Biden, Trump opted to place the pandemic blame on China, whilst eluding questions about his failed solutions for the crisis.
In this context, Biden has performed very well. He has constantly challenged Trump and by exploiting the limits of his loud insults, Biden has managed to expose the current president to the undecided or reluctant voters, as nothing more than an all talk and no action candidate, thus placing himself in a more favourable spot.
4. His Message.
I have mentioned previously that Trump failed to stop campaigning, even after three years in office. This continued to be evident in the second presidential debate, where Trump’s discourse was as brash and divisive as the one he had had during the 2016 election. Moreover, throughout this year’s campaign, Trump managed to contradict himself on numerous occasions. One example being his public accusations of Kamala Harris, where he labelled her as “a cop” who threatened civilians, and later claimed that she is not suited to being Vice-President because she is “an anti-police radical”. Another example is when he made fun of Biden for being a “loser family man”, and later accused him of not caring for the American families.
By contrast, Biden’s message has remained clear and constant throughout the entire election campaign. While some criticism could be addressed regarding the practicality and pragmatic nature of his message, his pledges are seemingly more attractive and better tailored for the current time of crisis. This was emphasised very well in the second presidential debate. Here he spoke about uniting the country, stating that his Covid policies will aim to help all Americans, red and blue alike. He also pledged an administration that would put American families before party politics. This cemented Biden as the more moderate candidate between the two, potentially increasing the appeal of his whole campaign. Which brings me to the 5th and final reason.
5. He is the moderate candidate in this election.
Despite all of Trump’s efforts to paint Biden as a puppet of the radical left, the American voters are inclined to the disagree. In a recent poll held by CBS in Georgia and North Carolina, 45% of the non-partisan or undecided voters stated that they viewed Biden as a moderate and ideologically similar to themselves. Only 13% agreed with Trump. Judging by the results in this poll, as well as the current showings in the electorate college polls, it is clear that Trump has become more unpopular.
By contrast, in 2016 not only was he generally viewed as the more moderate candidate by the electorate, but he was also more popular overall. Biden, on the other hand, seems to connect better with the voting public and is viewed as a moderate candidate whose values reflect the sentiments echoed not only by his supporters but also by many of the non-partisan electorate. This not only places him in a strong position to win the election, but it could also have already swung the result in his favour, bearing in mind that some the mentioned swing states as well as democrat ones have already cast their votes.
Ultimately, while there is a strong case to be made for him, there is no certainty that Biden will win and equally, there is no doubt in many people’s minds that Trump could secure re-election. This makes the 3rd of November the most anticipated day of the year, in which we will find out which of these two articles that I’ve written was right, and which one picked the losing side.