According to Professor Benita Heiskanen from the John Morton Center for North American Studies of the University of Turku, it is too early to make predictions about the U.S. presidential election held this November. The coronavirus crisis has upended the election, complicating an already complex electoral system.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many states have delayed the primaries and caucuses, scheduled for the spring and early summer. The Democratic National Convention has been postponed to August, shortening the length of the campaigns. Both the Republican and Democratic candidates will be officially announced at the party conventions at the end of the summer.
Some states, such as Wisconsin, stuck to their original schedule and went ahead with the primaries despite the ongoing crisis.
– Those primaries have prompted a vigorous public debate as to whether the results can be considered reliable. In all likelihood, some people abstained from voting in fear of the pandemic, Professor Heiskanen explains.
According to Heiskanen, the main problems have to do with infrastructure or, rather, lack thereof.
– It is extremely challenging in a large nation, such as the United States, to adopt a new electoral system. States have their own idiosyncratic practices, so there is no federal, standardized electoral system.
Trump uses public appearances to boost his campaign
An incumbent president is by default in a strong position in the U.S. presidential elections. According to Heiskanen, the U.S. electoral college system is favorable for the Republicans. A strong economy is usually considered to be an asset for the president, as was the case with Donald Trump before the current crisis.
– Trump benefits from the fact that he is able to control the daily media narrative. Because Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, is unable to organize campaign rallies, it is easier for Trump to get his message across., Heiskanen explains.
President Trump’s coronavirus stances do not differ much from his other political views.
– They are extremely mercurial. His stances are usually dependent on whom he last spoke to. The rhetoric about a foreign “threat” that is characteristic of his foreign policy statements is applicable to the stances on the coronavirus as well.
Joe Biden fails to inspire supporters
Joe Biden’s candidacy did not elicit much excitement at the beginning of the primary election.
– He has been considered a rather tired candidate.
After Bernie Sanders won the Nevada primary by a landslide, some of the Democrats panicked and united in an effort to replace him. Sanders’s views were considered too radical and the mainstream of the party began advocating for Biden.
– Biden is a veteran politician and represents himself as a continuation of the Obama administration. Biden’s baggage is his age as well as the allegations of sexual abuse by a former staffer. Trump, too, has faced multiple charges of sexual abuse while in office.
Outcome of the election impossible to predict
At the moment, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen in the U.S. presidential elections.
– There is no way of knowing how the corona crisis will impact the U.S. public. A lot can happen before November. I would say that the election is the president’s to lose.
Text: Veera Heinonen
Translation: Lotta Junnila