Throughout the 2016 US Presidential election campaign, all the polls and the vast majority of pundits and psephologists predicted Hilary Clinton would beat Donald Trump. Clinton had led in the national polls for months and was also ahead in the dozen or so key swing states, which actually decides the outcome in the rather confusing and widely criticised Electoral College voting system used by America. However, Trump confounded the polls and the pundits and won. Is that particular shock about to be repeated over the next two days?
The Electoral College is a system born from compromise by the US Constitution Founding Fathers who tried to convince smaller states at the time that their views would not be ignored. It means that votes in close States are more valuable and the winner of Presidential elections is not always the one who wins most votes. Clinton won almost three million more votes than Trump but lost four years ago. Winning the Electoral College votes allocated to each state is the key to reaching the 270 magic number that guarantees victory. It is a system which has been called unfair and undemocratic.
Winning Most Votes in America Does Not Guarantee the Presidency
Hilary Clinton was not the first candidate to win the majority of votes cast but lose the election although the nearly 2.9 million vote gap was a record. In 2000 Al Gore won half a million more votes than George W. Bush nationwide, but Bush won the presidency after he was declared the winner in Florida by a mere 537 votes and awarded Florida’s critical 29 Electoral College votes. More about that story later.
The Trump campaign in 2016 successfully targeted key swing States and won by wafer thin margins of only a few thousand in those States but secured the necessary number of Electoral College votes in the process. He and his supporters repeat ad nauseam that a “red wave” will once again sweep him into power and prove the opinion polls and political pundits wrong once again. Predictions of his defeat are dismissed as ‘fake news’ by him and his loyal supporters.
A Major CNN Poll Indicates Trouble for Trump – Young Votes are Key
Given the experience of four years ago, it is perhaps foolish to predict a Trump defeat and Biden victory, but I am going to do it anyway. CNN is a news agency which is widely seen as Trump-unfriendly. Some would say it is biased against Trump so the polls it produces should be consumed with care. However, yesterday their polling in four key battleground States that voted Trump four years ago commanded my attention. Biden is well ahead in them all: Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona, and Wisconsin. If Biden holds on to the states Clinton won in 2016 and wins only those four key states where he is currently ahead beyond the usual margin of error then Trump is beaten.
The key section of the electorate which I am investing my faith in and upon which I base my prediction of a decisive defeat for Trump is the young voters who have registered to vote and already voted in unprecedented numbers not recorded since 18 year olds were granted the vote in 1971.
Voters between the age of 18-29 are leading the way in voter participation and I refuse to believe that this key section of the electorate are doing anything other than rejecting Trump and his record of division, racism and misogyny. According to all the reputable survey evidence, the main issues which concern this group of voters in America is healthcare provision, Covid19, education, climate change, the economy, gun control and racism with the number of young people indicating they will definitely vote at 63%, up from only 47% in 2016. Given the issues which most concerns these young voters it is no surprise that Biden leads the approval ratings by 38 points over Trump.
Only once in forty years has a Democratic Presidential candidate won in North Carolina but based on the new generation of younger voters and building on the momentum that saw the super majority Republican majority in the State legislature overturned in the 2018 mid-term elections it is now likely that North Carolina will endorse Biden over Trump.
The numbers are incredible. Only 133,430 young people registered to vote in Texas in 2016 but in 2020 over one million have either voted or registered to vote. In Georgia 79,875 registered to vote in 2016 but today it is well over 250,000. The youth turnout in the 2018 mid-term elections broke all records and that surge fuelled by protests against police slayings of unarmed black citizens, climate change concerns and opposition to increased economic inequality is set to create new records for youth voter turnout at an American election.
These new voters and others who did not vote in 2016 are overwhelmingly anti-Trump. In fact, amongst all the critical voter groups, but particularly the young, Biden is ahead as this New York Times column stridently states:
“More broadly, Mr. Trump is facing an avalanche of opposition nationally from women, people of colour, voters in the cities and the suburbs, young people, seniors and, notably, new voters. In all four states, voters who did not participate in 2016, but who have already voted this time or plan to do so, said they support Mr. Biden by wide margins. That group includes both infrequent voters and young people who were not yet eligible to vote four years ago.”
According to the Centre for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, voters ages 18 to 29 are voting in record numbers, including more than seven million young people who have already voted early or absentee in the 2020 elections.
Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee believes that equality is what has driven the youth to get out and exercise their civic duty.
Will the People Decide This Election or the Rigged Courts? – Remember 2000
While I am acutely aware that Joe Biden is no champion of the causes which so concern young people and inspire them to vote in record numbers it is clear that rejection of Trump and his woeful responses to the Covid19 pandemic, climate change denials, encouraging of white supremacist groups and record of sowing division is the priority of the new generation and scores of Democratic Party candidates embody many of the progressive policies which motivate this generation of young voters to vote in greater numbers than any before them.
In the face of poor polling figures and on the cusp of losing the Presidency Trump has sought to ratchet up the threat of a stolen election which is ironic from a man who lost the popular vote so convincingly four years ago. There are increased rumours that Trump may take to a microphone at an opportune time and declare himself the winner before all the votes are counted in key states to paint a warped narrative about voter fraud without a shred of evidence. This is a dangerous strategy and risks violent confrontations. Unfortunately, it is a play which has worked for right wing Republicans before.
I urge you to watch and listen to Greg Palast’s recent discussion of the tactics that could be deployed by the Trump administration to thwart the democratic will of the people. By refusing to certify votes in Republican held States Trump friendly Governors could effectively overturn democracy in their States.
In 2000 the 29 Electoral College votes in Florida would decide the closely fought election. Most news networks called the state and therefore the election for Al Gore, the Democratic Party nominee. The Bush campaign complained and the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush - brother of George - ordered a recount. Some six million votes had been cast across the state. With 178,000 votes to count and Bush in the lead by only 537 votes the count was stopped. Groups of angry protesters organised by a guy called Roger Stone crashed into the main Miami vote counting centre and forced the count to be halted. It became known as the ‘Brooks Brothers Riot’. The Republican Secretary of State who was close to the Bush family, Katherine Harris, then intervened to declare the count over and award Florida, and therefore the White House, to George W Bush. A court case followed with the local court upholding the decision, the Florida Supreme Court overturning the decision and then the National Supreme Court overturning the Florida Supreme Court and upholding a decision which gave George W Bush the Presidency. Ensuring a Republican majority in the Supreme Court was critical to the 2000 election outcome.
Twenty years ago, 178,000 legitimately cast votes in the State of Florida were discounted. All independent observers believed, based on the polls and other surveys, that most of those votes were Democratic votes but the politically rigged Supreme Court, not the people, decided the outcome of that election. No wonder so many across the world scoff when American politicians lecture others about democracy.
The Roger Stone guy is back on the scene. He is linked to the Proud Boys network of armed heavies who have already indicated a willingness to take to the streets in violent protest should Trump lose the election. I hope my faith in young voters and other decent US citizens is justified and that in overwhelming and indisputable numbers they vote to remove President Trump. A close-run affair presents a very real possibility of violent confrontations, protracted court cases and perhaps yet again the President of the most powerful ‘democracy’ in the world being decided by politically appointed judges, not the people of America. We will know soon.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.