U.S Presidential election, What to expect. Our Young Reporters piece

Today our transatlantic cousins go to the polls. While the entirety of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate is seeking re-election the eyes of the world are very much on the presidential election. I hope this article sheds a little light on the presidential election. Highlighting what to look out for if like me you intend to watch the results as they come in.

One cannot understand the U.S presidential election without understanding the Electoral College. The Electoral College is the system by which the United States elects its President. Each state is given electors based upon its representation in Congress. In short, all you need to know is each state is given electoral votes roughly in proportion to its population and, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, all states run a winner takes all system. That is to say, if you get the most votes in that state you get all of their electoral votes. The aim of Both Trump and Biden is to amass 270 or more electoral votes from the 538 available. This means that either candidate is seeking to win states and not necessarily the popular vote.

So which states should you watch out for? Trumps win in 2016 was essentially due to him winning the three Midwestern states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as well as Florida. In short, if Trump loses to Biden in all four of these states Biden will become the 46th President of the United States. Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida between them count for a massive 75 Electoral College votes. If Trump has a particularly strong showing the mid-western state of Minnesota may well be in play. If Trump wins in Minnesota, a state he lost to Clinton by only 44,765 votes in 2016, he is incredibly likely to carry the Midwest and with it the presidency. It’s important to note that in 2016 Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes, Wisconsin by 22,177 votes and Pennsylvania by 46,765 votes. In other words but for 79,646 votes cast in these three states Hilary Clinton would be the President of the United States.

With that being said today’s election has the ability to tear up the electoral map and embarrass prevailing wisdom. Polling in Arizona for example a state which has voted Republican in every Presidential election since 1952, with the exception of 1996, has Biden winning. Just in case your curious Arizona was carried by Bill Clinton in 1996. This was essentially due to third party candidate Ross Perot taking votes away from Bob Dole the then Republican nominee.

As previously mentioned Florida is very much a big part of Trumps election strategy. With 29 electoral college votes, the third most of any state, Florida is invaluable to both candidates. If one is to be superstitious losing in Florida does somewhat tempt fate. Only twice since 1928 has a Presidential candidate lost Florida and won the election.

Based on previous elections Ohio, one of the few swing states Trump is polling better than Biden in, is a very important state. Not since JFK in 1960 has a Presidential candidate lost Ohio and won the election. Quite remarkably Ohio has backed the eventual winner in 33 of the 37 Presidential elections held since the U.S civil war. More importantly perhaps for President Trump no Republican has won a national election in which they have failed to win Ohio.

Predictions? The pollsters say with a great degree of confidence that Joe Biden will win tonight. With some polls giving trump less than a 10 per cent chance of winning. Interestingly an electoral model devised by Professor Helmut Norpoths, which stresses performance in primaries as the key indicator to electoral successes, has Trump winning comfortably. For what it’s worth I think Trump will carry key mid-western states by a narrow margin. Losing the popular vote nationwide but achieving a victory in the electoral college. Here’s hoping.

This article by Young Reporter Grant Clark
First published in Grimsby Telegraph 3rd November 2020