US Election: The Pendulum States

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By LUIS FERNANDO VITAGLIANO*

In this year's US elections, election polls or one candidate being more popular than the other does not make it easier to anticipate who will be elected the next president.

When the subject is elections in the United States, the reader immediately wants to know what the analyst's prediction is to judge whether the anticipated result makes sense or not. I confess that, even with my crystal ball rather cloudy, I will hazard a guess or two as to what is likely to happen. I have, on the subject, two antagonistic perspectives: even with so many predictions to the contrary, it is feasible that Trump wins the elections; but if the perspectives of participation and anti-trump mobilization have their effect, Trump will take a more significant historical wash than our 7 to 1. My impression is that there will be no middle ground.

Let's start with the glaring obvious: Trump will lose in the electoral college. But US elections are not limited to creating a simple majority in deciding the next president, the puzzle assembled from the electoral colleges and the weighted weights of each state in the delegates' constitution makes predictions quite erratic. Added to this, as an additional problem, is the fact that elections are not mandatory and the number of voters was declining until recent years. Even in bipartisanship, where the dispute involves only two candidates, the division and the machine that Republicans and Democrats have developed makes any post competitive. For all this, both from the point of view of general election polls and from the perspective that one candidate is more popular than the other, it is not easy to anticipate who will be elected the next president.

We know that some states are distinctly Republican; other states, however, are clearly democratic and this reality is established. According to the usual jargon, elections in the United States are defined by pendulum states, that is, those states that are not clearly republican or democratic and that allow their majorities to be vulnerable to circumstances and mark the differences for one side of the other in each election. In these states, the dispute is usually quite fierce.

Even if in these elections some news happened (the most explored example is the case of Texas in which Biden appears at the head of some polls in this traditionally republican state), it is obvious that the difference is within a narrow margin within the possibilities of error of a research. But the fact that Biden is running with such fervor in Texas bodes ill for the Republican voter.

Indeed it should not surprise us if Trump wins yet another election. Although our desires and our perspectives lead us to evaluate Biden's performance with an optimistic tendency and minimize the effect of Trump, it is natural that our cognition leads us to create a positive scenario for the Democrat - even because Trump's image outside the United States she is quite affected by her personalistic outbursts; we must take into account that until the beginning of 2020 (before the pandemic) it was difficult to imagine that the Democrats would have a chance in the November elections.

It is the opposite of this perspective that the coronavirus and the “Black Lives Matter” protests that have spread across working-class states have changed the scenario and put Trump on a defensive line and in difficulties with his already controversial way of expressing himself on controversial issues.

No one more than Trump himself misread reality and downplayed the coronavirus and belittled civil rights. With these attitudes he engaged the opposition is a work of resistance and struggle that has not been seen in the United States for a long time, the result of which is an anticipation of 65 million votes. This will probably be the election in the United States that most voters, it took in recent times much more than the 125 million of the last election between Trump himself and Hillary Clinton.

But unlike many of my colleagues who anticipate a Biden victory, I am cautious about the results. It is true that if the opinion polls are correct, Trump will be washed away, both in the electoral college and in the popular vote. The problem is that already in 2016 the surveys were not able to capture the deep vote on Trump in some key states and it is possible that this will happen again. Not because of the inability or inconsistency of any survey, but because of the fact that there is a hidden vote, in a way intimidated, that does not want to reveal itself and that will not reveal itself except for the privacy of the ballot box. He is a voter ashamed of his choice, but pragmatic and convinced that it is the best option for the United States. I would venture to say that once again the deep vote can be decisive.

Election polls and analyzes are based on a false assumption: it considers voters consistent with themselves, with their principles and convictions. But that's not true for 9 out of 10 people.

Most people have very sensitive reasons for choosing their vote. People can consider Trump's positions misaligned, that he says things that voters don't agree with, that he is ashamed of some of his attitudes. But despite that, many consider him stronger and safer in decisions regarding the country's directions, especially in economics and foreign policy. He doesn't need to have a majority of voters thinking that way. Unfortunately, it is enough for him to incite this position in a few key decisive states that are predisposed to believe his bravado. Therefore, these voters accept being ashamed of their president at various times, disagreeing with him at others, keeping silent about his exaggerations or protesting about his imbecilities, but when it comes to voting, they end up choosing over their opponents. In Biden's case, he is considered weaker in his decisions and less reliable in terms of economic options.

This diagnosis is based on the assumption that hidden voting is still present in the US community as a whole. It is what Trump himself called a hidden vote or, silent majority and what I call here the deep vote.

If these silent ones (which could be between 3%, 4% or 5% of the population) demonstrate at the polls in such a tight election, in some key states where the republican has a chance of winning (many scenario conditionals), this could take him to victory. It is a tortuous path, but not absurd and not distant or unprecedented from Trump's 2016 strategy.

The other possible scenario (which in my modest analysis is the alternative to the current course) is that the situation in the United States has become so serious that not even this educated vote silences the present high level of dissatisfaction. The greatest expression that this is possible is anticipation and the amount of early votes being deposited in the nails – already over 65 million, half of the votes in 2016. This demonstrates an unprecedented level of engagement in the US elections and shortens the possibilities of Trump recovery campaign; which had several unforeseen events in the last few days and appears with a more voluminous campaign in the days close to the elections.

Early voting and vote counting is a separate chapter in US elections. Indeed, without an early vote and without a vote by mail, it is possible for Jobs to argue that he would win the elections. And this is what opens the door to a jurisdictionalization of elections in the United States. We all know this would deal a heavy blow to the oldest democracy on the planet.

If that happens, there are no winners. Only if the institutional responses are quick and efficient to avoid a large-scale crisis in the country that today has plenty of reasons for a riot. Finally, the more the decision of who will be the next president of the United States takes place, the further the country and the world will be from institutional normality; politics loses, candidates lose and the country is lost amidst protests, indecisions and difficulties in defining its leaders, authority in the state and government. This doesn't just put the US, but a world in a situation of tension and greater stability. Is Trump irresponsible to the point of putting all of this at risk? I sincerely hope not!

*Luis Fernando Vitagliano holds a master's degree in political science from Unicamp.

 

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