What to Expect from Upcoming the American Presidential Election?

The presidential election of the United States (US) has an adamant effect over the rest of the world. It is primarily due to the political and economic influence which the US exerts across the world. Therefore, whoever becomes the President of the US has major implications for international affairs. Historically, individuals who have assumed the President’s Office were the ones who were part of the political structure for several years or had served a greater part of their professional career in military or intelligence agencies. Back in 2016, this tradition was quashed when a billionaire-cum-television celebrity Donald J. Trump was elected as the new occupant of the White House.

Looking back at the 2016 election, the ascendance of Trump to the White House was not the only surprise that the American political system experienced at the time. It was the beginning of an era which saw execution of reckless populist and protectionist policies. By adopting protectionist policies, Trump’s anticipated aim was to create such an American boom which would once again pull the world economy along.

Additionally, his withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement not only omitted a major global polluter out of the global agreement but allowed China to emerge as a global leader in green energy. Similarly, Trump’s decision to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal not only was criticised by US’ European allies but also allowed Iran to pursue nuclear weapon. The ‘Deal of the Century’ presented by Trump administration has appeared to be the last nail in the coffin with respect to US roleas a mediator between Israel and Palestine.

If any of the Democratic Party candidates have to take notes from the past, they have to secure well among both the African Americans and the white working class.

On domestic front, his electoral promise of building a wall on Mexican border and the imposition of immigration ban on Muslim countries resulted in ever increasing anti-immigrant, Islamophobicand racist sentiments. The years of Trump’s presidency have fuelled the xenophobia that brought him in power even further.

In the upcoming presidential election, Trump is expected to face a stiff opposition either from the former Vice President Joe Biden or Senator Bernie Sanders. To defeat Trump, any presidential candidate from Democratic Party needs high number of delegates to pull off the support of  ‘Obama coalition,’a diverse cohort made up of African-Americans, Hispanics, women, independents, millennials and those with a college education.

The battle for the next American president will largely be fought in the three Rust Belt States (Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania) because these are the swing states where bringing the swing voters on your side is crucial for any party to win the election. With the objective of securing large number of delegates, it remains a gamble for any political party because voters’ partisanship is not specific. Like the states which are flagged as blue or red states, such swing states are not permanent strongholds of any political party.

The upcoming presidential election has gained more importance due to the fact that if Americans repeat the history by electing once again populism, nativism and protectionism leaning president, the world could lean into another term of much more blatant Trump era than ever.  This is primarily because when such populist leaders are re-elected, they tend to always become more extreme in their policies. Another factor to consider is that Trump is the first American president to surpass the impeachment trial and survive to not only the end of his term but also announce his re-election campaign with more pride and confidence than ever. This megalomania depicts that the world should be ready for a more conservative orientation of the Great Power than ever before.

On the other hand, the pro-Biden voters are expecting an Obama-like outcome from the former Vice President. Moreover, Bernie Sanders appeals more to the younger lot with his revolutionist agenda of introducing drastic changes in the system like complete exemption of college tuition fee and adoption of green policies.

The return of Trump back to power would mean more protectionist policies than those currently pursued.

Like the previous presidential election, this time around analysts are pointing towards the attempts of disinformation campaigns and foreign influence operations. These tactics are played in order to not only manipulate voters’ viewpoint but also target those individuals who remain indecisive as to whom to vote. The resultant of such interventions is that the electoral collegeloses credibility which affects the voter turnout. As the potential voter loses the trust upon the power of a vote and the legitimacy of a government by the people, Russia is suspected to use Ghanaian and Nigerian troll-farms. They were assigned the task of talking about American racial issues on their social media accounts. Domestically, both Republican and Democratic parties have a number of tools at their disposal in the form of “coordinated bot attacks, Potemkin local news sites, micro-targeting fearmongering, and anonymous mass texting” to influence voters. Additionally, pro-Trump campaigners are anticipated to embark on most extensive disinformation campaign in the American history.

Historically, voter turnout of young voters had remained low. However,young voters can possibly be a key influencing factor in the upcoming election. Currently, young voters (18 to 39 years old) constitute more than a third of the eligible voters. In the previous election, young voters aged 18 to 29reported more turnout as compared to other age groups. According to 2019 Cooperative Congressional Election Study survey, 10 percent of the Trump’s 2016 voters are expected to vote for someone else in 2020.  These voters are neither strongly in favour of nor against what Trump has delivered as a president.They are divided upon the thought of who to vote for.  Therefore, the real race between presidential candidates is to attract the swing voters as well as the young demography.

The rest of the world should buckle up for the next four years, while Trump is busy keeping America Great.

If any of the Democratic Party candidates have to take notes from the past, they have to secure well among both the African Americans and the white working class. At the same time, some candidates like Biden are losing their African American support through which they could win an Obama like coalition if they manage to secure the young as well as the African American voters, who are only campaigning for him due to his “Obama-esque”outlook.

To conclude, prospects of Trump securing second term remain strong. Although, so far his strong contender Joe Biden, after his performance in the recent primaries, seems to be Trump’s competition. But it is Biden’s centralist approach that is not that much appealing to the diverse demography as compared to Trump’s radical approach of bringing back America to its glory. The return of Trump back to power would mean more protectionist policies than those currently pursued. The rest of the world should buckle up for the next four years, while Trump is busy keeping America Great.

Rida Anwar

Rida Anwar

Rida Anwar is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research. She has studied International Relations from the National Defence University, Islamabad.

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    Masooma Reply

    April 5, 2020 at 1:32 am

    Thts v impressive

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