By: Zorais Naroo
Despite claims from both parties of high support, enthusiasm for both candidates, Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump, is worryingly low when the stakes are extremely high as many issues tackle the nation at once in this chaotic year. On September 29th, the first Presidential Debates were held featuring the two candidates. Moderated by Chris Wallace, the debates were largely agreed on to be a huge mess.
President Donald Trump spent more time going into Biden’s character and controversy surrounding his family than articulating points about his plans for the future. He often dodged questions surrounding the shocking amount of white supremacists that support him and how he plans on handling the coronavirus pandemic (a disease which he contracted later into the week)
Rather than tear into how unprofessional Trump seemed at the event, Biden often accepted Trump’s rambling and relied on Chris Wallace to keep things civil. This was largely due to his age; he simply could not handle the stress most of the time. This may have helped him out, however, as it made him seem like the calmer of the two candidates.
Earlier on during the Democratic Primaries, many progressives were enthusiastic to support candidates such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who shared their ideologies. However, due to many dropouts and endorsements on the day before Super Tuesday, Joe Biden came swinging back on top and put Sanders on defense for the nomination as the polls shifted incredibly into Biden’s favor. According to tracking polls of the Democratic Primary from RealClearPolitics, Biden’s support went from 15-20% to 50% over the course of 2-3 days. According to the New York Times, Senator Sanders ended his second bid for the presidency and endorsed Joe Biden as he received few endorsements afterwards and saw the emerging coronavirus as a bigger issue than continuing campaign.
However, Biden and his campaign have done little to capture the progressive vote. According to Axios, the Biden campaign largely expects Sanders and Warren supporters to simply “fall in line” and vote for the better of the two candidates, favoring Biden over a Trump presidency. This could backfire as progressives see themselves as different from the mainstream Democrats Biden represents.
Aisha Hussein, a college student and registered Democrat at George Washington University, is one of these many progressives who feel betrayed by the Democratic party. “I just want a candidate who respects Palestine,” she claims. She preferred Bernie for his anti-war policies and prays that Biden replicates at least some of them in his own policy.
It should be noted that many Americans are eager to vote this year. A Gallup poll conducted from September 14-28 titled “Americans’ Relative Enthusiasm for Presidential Elections, 2004-2020” revealed that 67% of respondents are enthusiastic to vote this year. In 2016, a very close election in many states where Trump lost the popular vote overall, this number was only 47%.
This is due to how high the stakes in 2020 are for everyone.
On the other hand, Trump’s approval rating in office has often stayed below 50% and 56.6% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus according to tracking polls from FiveThirtyEight named “How unpopular is Donald Trump?” and “Do Americans approve of Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis?”. Trump’s recent diagnosis is likely to impact how people see him as he often downplayed the pandemic early on, and his job approval overall will hinder his chances of reelection.
Madiha Naroo, a physician, agrees that his diagnosis will play out badly for his support. “How can a strong man be strong when he’s sick? Being seen as a hypocrite is not good…”
Trump often touts internal polls which show high support, numbers as large as 80 to 90 percent, within the Republican party on places such as Twitter. However, these numbers fail to mention how little an impact returning voters have on the results. Many people are just now registering to vote, and of these new registers in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin the majority apply as Democrats.
Combined with high mail-in votes and a potential swing from independents, Democrats could likely regain states lost in 2016 such as Pennsylvania while also gaining new ones such as Arizona. Arizona is set to turn blue this year due to the strong campaigning of Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, along with many new settlers from California coming for cheaper real estate.
Election betting sites such as Predictit and Betfair reflect such ideals. Election Betting Odds, a website run by John Stossel which aggregates data from both aforementioned sites, claims the odds of Biden getting the president are 6-in-10 as of October 6th. Trump’s odds are 3.5-in-10. The other 0.5 is split among “wild card” candidates such as Mike Pence, if Trump were to become unable to rule.
State-by-state betting also shows high chances of the rust belt, which won Trump 2016, swinging to Biden along with North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. These averages are prone to change, similar to the stock market, but tend to become more defined towards November 3rd. It is unlikely that Biden loses his edge among betters, as he has yet to lose his slight polling edge over Trump.
If Trump shared the charisma he had in 2016 and if Biden was more energetic the election would not be as controversial as it is, however due to the circumstances surrounding both candidates uncertainty over who will win the race runs amok.