No other democracy in the world elects its President as the United States does. You do not need a majority vote or ‘the popular vote’ to win as seen in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton had about 1.3 million more votes than Donald Trump but lost regardless because he won the majority of the Electoral College votes.
So, what is the Electoral College?
It is a group of people appointed by each state who formally elect the President and the Vice President. Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution specifies how many electors each state is entitled to. Each state gets a specific number of electors based on the population size. There are currently 538 electors – 435 representatives, 100 senators, and 3 electors from the District of Columbia – and to win the candidate must surpass 270 electoral votes.
It is entirely possible to get more votes and still lose the election because of ‘winner takes all’. For example, the state of California currently has 55 electoral votes and if a candidate wins in California they win all 55 of those electoral votes and the loser gets none even though the voting margins may have been slim. This is also why the presidential candidates try winning states such as New York (29), Florida (29), and Texas (38).
On occasion, a presidential candidate may get the majority but not win. This means that the candidate who won may have won with small margins, winning just enough states, with just enough electoral votes. Whereas the candidate who lost may have won with larger margins in the rest of the states adding up to more than 50% of the ballots cast by voters but was not able to get more than 270 electoral votes. This has been the case in the two of the last five elections in the United States.
As of November 3rd, election day in the United States, rolled around most people are shocked at how close the election is coming, too close to call – even though a day has passed. Some major headlines are:
● America had the largest voter turnout in more than a century.
● Biden became the first Democrat to take Arizona since 1996 – flipping a state that usually votes Republican and won 11 electoral votes.
● Trump declared a premature victory stating that the democrats are committing fraud as the mail-in ballots continue to be counted in battleground states. “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to this country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said.
● Biden told his supporters to be patient saying that “We knew because of the unprecedented mail-in vote and the early vote that it was going to take a while and we have to be patient, and it’s not over until every vote is counted.”
● It has now come down to Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and North Carolina.
Michigan and Nevada are currently leaning in the favour of Biden whereas in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina trump is in lead.
The election result being disputed seems entirely possible in the case that Biden wins the elections. Not only did Trump declare a premature victory but also has on multiple occasions stated that he will not accept the result if he loses – saying that the elections were rigged in that case. So it becomes evident that if Biden is to win the transition of power will not be smooth. The country has not been this divided since the civil war.
A larger number of democrats are voting through mail-in ballots which are the votes that are yet to be counted. Democrats such as Bernie Sanders had previously expressed concerns that Trump would try to claim victory before the results from the mail-in ballots were in – which is what has happened. Biden’s appeal to his supporters to remain patient and optimistic is because the mail-in ballots could tip the scale in his favour.
At the end of the day, the winner takes all.
How does the United States election result affect their domestic and international policies?
Trump is more divisive and combative – destroying the reputation and global standing of the US making it a soft power. Trump believes in acting alone and thus does not give much regard to keeping strong international relations and building alliances. Biden believes in a multilateral approach. He is likely to restore partnership with Europeans and others especially NATO.
Trump and Biden have the same stance on China but Trump will continue the confrontation with China (next superpower on the horizon) whereas Biden would probably use allies to pressure Beijing, thus may even avoid a trade war with China. Trump is pushing for more military spending but with more focus on China and wants to pull out of the Middle East and Afghanistan. Trump is pulling out of international agreements and believes in slashing foreign whereas Biden still believes in foreign aid to create goodwill. Trump is the biggest supporter of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. But the relationship with Saudis will be far cooler under Biden and he also supports Isreal but not unconditionally. Trump is anti-Iran and Biden is expected to rejoin Iran Nuclear deal.
If we talk about Afghanistan, both have the same policy to end the war and bring troops home, and limiting troop deployment in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Both will support India and strong ties to balance China. However, Biden was vocal against human rights violations in Kashmir. Historically Republicans are more friendly toward Pakistan but Trump is very unpredictable. During Trump’s first term relationship between the USA and Pakistan was satisfactory but there was no progress. On the other hand, Biden received Hilal-e-Pakistan in 2015. He is an expert on foreign policy as he was head of the US Foreign policy Committee. India will be a priority for both. There will be no shift in policy towards Pakistan if either of the candidates is elected. Both will try to stop CPEC.
There is a stark difference in domestic policies like Trump is anti-immigration, pro-big business, does not believe in global warming, not a fan of welfare programs, anti-abortion, pro-gun, and is not an advocate of LGBT+ rights. Biden is more of a socialist – supports public health care, paid family leave, plans on increasing minimum wage, reducing public college tuition fee, pro-immigration, pro-abortion, wants to increase corporate tax, and supports LGBT+ rights.
The fact that the election is so close comes as a surprise to a vast majority of people considering Trump’s response to COVID-19 and the countrywide protests that broke out after the murder of George Floyd in police custody. If Trump is to win this election it will be a win for social injustices, racial discrimination, homophobia, and sexism. The United States is the superpower of the world and this election will set the tone of what the global climate looks like for the coming years.
Whoever wins at the end of the day, the country is so split at the moment that there will be civil unrest regardless; the only question now is who will be the one propagating this unrest – Red or Blue, Trump or Biden.