The world’s oldest and most imitated democracy faces a stern test. There are abstruse if not dubious legal means by which Trump can be “re-elected” without winning the popular vote. Some will argue with merit that this should be in the losers column. However, the events of the next 70 days will either affirm the efficacy of the system or eviscerate the moral standing of the United States on the global stage.
The United States of America recently held its elections. The build-up to the elections, context and aftermath have been quite dramatic and revelatory. Here is an assessment of the winners and losers.
1. President-elect Biden: By the time votes are fully counted, Biden will be more than six million votes ahead of outgoing President Trump. That would be the largest winning margin over an incumbent in 84 years. Yet a thorny part remains, as the incumbent is actively trying to disrupt the process.
2. SARS Coronavirus 2 a.k.a COVID-19: The leadership of the American federal government appeared distracted by the elections in its declaratory war against the virus. There was evident inertia in this regard in the build up to the elections, and its aftermath. Infection levels continue to break records till date. Ominously, lagging indicators like hospitalisations and deaths are on the rise.
3. The American Electorate: The 2020 elections recorded the highest level of civic engagement in history. One critical metric of this was that an estimated 66.5 per cent of registered voters voted. This is the highest recorded number since the 19th century. A total of approximately 160 million votes were cast. Its is the largest number in history.
4. Black Lives Matter (BLM): The activist movement riveted Americans, and enjoyed popular support from an hitherto higher level of disapproval. It also transformed anger at police killings of unarmed blacks to votes. The BLM support was critical in President-Elect Biden’s flipping of Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania. BLM potentiated voter registration efforts in large cities.
5. Congressional Republicans: The GOP is poised to retain the Senate, against polls and pundit expectations (although I had predicted a GOP retention of the legislative chamber). Republicans also gained seats in the House of Representatives, albeit this was insufficient to flip control there.
6. Stacy Abrams: The Georgian rising star was instrumental in building registration and turnout infrastructure in the state of Georgia and in black-majority cities in purple states. Her currency continues to rise.
The fate of the elections lies in the hands of judges in state and federal courts. As such, the integrity of America’s democracy is under the microscope.
1. Donald Trump: The incumbent president undertook a heroic campaign effort. He increased his 2016 number of voters by over 11 million. Yet he lost. Unfortunately, he is still seeking to stay in office by finding ways of overturning his electoral loss through the electoral college. Given the arcane electoral college rules, and anachronistic U.S. constitution provisions, his pernicious strategy is legally possible. At the moment, it looks unpropitious, if not improbable.
2. QAnon: The infamous right wing conspiracy theorists predicted a Trump victory to their faithful. In the aftermath of Biden’s decisive victory, the group has been unusually reticent, leaving their disoriented followers to question their other prognostications.
3. Progressive Socialism: The progressive wing of the Democratic Party suffered electoral losses. Worse still, the “socialist” toga and “defund the police” slogans led to electoral losses for moderate Democratic candidates in purple/red districts. Biden’s victory reinforces the notion that America is still a moderate nation.
4. Pollsters and Pundits: Most polls and all poll aggregates predicted a large Biden victory, and also a Democratic takeover of the Senate, and more seats in the House. Pundits and polls predicted Biden victories in North Carolina and Florida, but he lost in both states. Equally, they wrongly predicted tight races in Iowa, Ohio and Texas. Even after adjusting for margins of error, the polls went off the marks. It is noteworthy that I predicted a very tight race, with a marginal Biden victory.
5. October Surprise: The dreaded October surprise was a poorly kept secret. Despite the best efforts of Messr Bill Barr, Rudy Guliani and Ron Johnson, the Hunter Biden story failed to sway the electorate. The Durham investigation, Senate investigation and media “leaks” on Biden family “corruption” only resonated with the converted. A media inured to President Trump’s skulduggery made editorial decisions to ignore the story.
1. The Judiciary: The fate of the elections lies in the hands of judges in state and federal courts. As such, the integrity of America’s democracy is under the microscope.
2. U.S. Democracy: The world’s oldest and most imitated democracy faces a stern test. There are abstruse if not dubious legal means by which Trump can be “re-elected” without winning the popular vote. Some will argue with merit that this should be in the losers column. However, the events of the next 70 days will either affirm the efficacy of the system or eviscerate the moral standing of the United States on the global stage.
Matthias Chika Mordi, an economist and banker, chief executive officer of National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria and chairman of United Capital (formerly UBA Capital).