Tomorrow will see one of the highest voter turnouts in decades in a U.S. presidential race.
Already more than 93 million Americans have mailed in their votes or cast their ballot early, which means this year’s numbers will surpass the 139 million people who voted in the Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump run off in 2016. It may very well be the case that over 160 million go to the polls.
This is a good sign. It means democracy is alive and well in America and people are actively participating in the process. This promises to be one of the most defining presidential races in modern history with two diametrically opposed men in Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Does America want to return to a more benign time where civility was de rigueur or does it want to pursue a more isolationist and divisive approach championed by President Trump?
Also, in fighting the coronavirus, do Americans believe that the curve is flattening and that there is not too much to worry about or should the country look to the scientists and vigorously adopt social distancing and wearing a mask?
Though not on the ballot paper, these are the choices that Americans have to make.
With huge numbers cast by mail and in person already, it shows that people care and want to ensure their voices are heard.
Many political commentators are saying that the majority of these early voters are Democrats, which means Biden has already secured a base and can spend his time pitching to the undecided and getting out pockets of the young, blacks, Latinos and the working class.
Trump’s base has remain steadfast and cannot be persuaded to abandon this maverick president. He in turn has not aggressively looked to court voting blocks outside his core constituency. He has said that blacks and Latinos have never enjoyed better economic fortunes but he has not directly canvassed them, he has not gone into their communities and spoke directly to them.
This large turnout could be the mass of the iceberg, the understated support that saw him elected four years ago only this time it is more formidable. Trump voters are by and large surreptitious, and their numbers are hard to gauge with polling.
The Democrats have favoured a virtual and digital approach to canvasing support, spending millions on robo calls and targeting people with digital devices. Trump has not neglected the knocking-on-doors old school approach. His team believes that the face-to-face way cannot be discounted, and that people appreciate being reached out to directly. The strategy with this is that voters will turn out in big numbers on the day for Trump.
The pre-November 3rd voters are the first wave of the infantry, the body of the army comes out for the main battle on Tuesday. The hope with the Trump camp is enough of them come out and dampen Biden’s early support.
With a second wave of the coronavirus bedeviling the United States, many voters have decided to mail in their vote or go in early. This way of voting is expected to be a major feature of this election given the fact that the pandemic is a once in a century event and the virus spreads when people are in close proximity. This means a winner may not be declared on Tuesday night as all the posted ballots will take time to be counted.
A winner can be named on the night as is traditionally the case, if there is an irrefutable, overwhelming victory which puts the contest beyond doubt.
President Trump is very wary of postal voting and thinks it can be used to sabotage his support and delay the announcement of a declared winner for weeks to come.
This he says, “will lead to massive electoral fraud and a rigged 2020 election”.
A Stanford University study published in April of this year revealed, “claims that vote-by-mail fundamentally advantages one party over the other appears overblown. In normal times, i.e. not during the pandemic, based on our data at least, vote-by-mail modestly increases participation while not advantaging either party”.