Dare to hope: the Democrats could sweep the board in the 2020 United States elections

For the third time during this lockdown, this evening I attended an online lecture to review the current state of the elections to be held in the United States on Tuesday 3 November 2020. All these lectures have been run by London’s City Literary Institute and given by the college’s Principal Mark Malcolmson.

Of course, the most important of the elections is that for the President and Vice-President who will occupy the White House from 2021-2024. But the whole of the House of Representatives is up for election for the next two-year term plus a third of the Senate seats for six-year terms. There are even some state governor elections.

At the start of the year, President Donald Trump still looked as if he had a fighting chance of winning a second term in the Oval Office. But the coronavirus crisis has changed everything.

Trump is widely believed to have handled the pandemic terribly with over 125,000 Americans already dead and the majority of states currently showing a rising number of infections. The collapse of the economy, with over 20 million Americans without a job, has taken away what he saw as his strongest card: a vibrant economy. Furthermore the reaction to the death of George Floyd and the demonstrations by the Black Lives Matter movement have further swung voters away from Trump.

So the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, although little seen and little heard during the coronavirus crisis, has been doing better and better in the polls. Biden now has a double-digit lead nationally and a similar lead in a number of crucial swing states. Indeed, if the elections were held today and if the polls are correct, Biden would easily win the popular vote and, all-importantly, sweep the Electoral College. He would only be the second Catholic president in the entire history of the United States (the first was John Kennedy).

If Joe Biden is to be the next President, who is likely to be his Vice-President? He has said that he will choose a woman and there is a lot of pressure on him to choose a woman of colour. I would like to see Kamala Harris of California as his running mate.

Normally, for all the media speculation, the choice of running mate does not have a significant impact on the campaign, but this time could be different, partly because Biden is a candidate who does not excite voters and he is not a good campaigner, partly because his age means he could die in office and in any event is unlikely to seek a second term. So 2024 could see the election of the first female president in the history of the nation and she could well be a woman of colour.

Democrats took the House of Representatives two years ago and, on current polling, would increase their majority in November. Then we have the Senate which is currently controlled by the Republicans by 53 to 47. It is beginning to look increasingly likely that the Democrats will win enough Senate seats to take over the upper chamber.

It was the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics and there are still four months before polling in the US elections but, barring surprises, the Democrats could take control of the White House and both parts of Congress, decisively bringing to an end the Trump nightmare.

But Trump will still leave an important conservative legacy: somewhat below the radar, he has now appointed some 200 judges, including two to the Supreme Court, who will represent a serious blockage to a roll-back of conservative values. Having said that, American judges sometimes surprise us and, in the last couple of weeks, the Supreme Court has made three unexpectedly progressive decisions.

A final thought: Donald Trump is such a narcissist that, if he sees that he he is going to be beaten in humiliating fashion, he might just decide to pull out. There is some interesting speculation to that effect. Even if he doesn’t withdraw from the race, he might dump Mike Pence as his running mate, partly to make him the fall-guy for the covid catastrophe and partly to inject some excitement into his campaign.

It’s going to be a nail-biting four months – but dare to hope.


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