Whatever the result, the Republican candidate represents profound changes in American and global politics.
The scrutiny is not over, and it will probably end up in court, but we already know some things for sure. Donald Trump hasn’t lost and Joe Biden hasn’t won yet. These may be the keys to explain why Trump is not an electoral accident of 2016 that 2020 was going to correct. Unlike. Trump represents -and many- profound changes in US and global politics.
1. Latino vote. “Latinos are Republicans, but they don’t know it yet,” Ronald Reagan once said. Conservatives, with family at the center and with sons and daughters who are no longer immigrants, but Native Americans, seem to have turned their backs on the Democrats. Trump has increased his quota from 2016.
2. Hidden vote (much less distance, according to surveys). The silent majority, which Trump and his followers were already talking about in 2016, has voted again. It is not perceived by surveys, nor by traditional demographic tools and metrics. Polls may favor bias, but they may not detect the changes or the determination of the voter who uses Trump to vote against many things, people and ideas. Trump is useful for the emotional vote.
3. Industrial vote. The famous Rust Belt (Rust Belt, in Spanish, named for its economic decline) has done it again. Neither the broken promises, nor the new concerns of the soccer mum, have been able to with this belt punished by the negative effects of globalization and to which Trump speaks directly. The calculated strategy against China has a strong reception in this ecosystem in crisis.
4. Trump’s belts. The Rust Belt, as in 2016, gives Trump much of the victory. But biblical belt (Georgia) and half of sun belt (Texas and Florida), keep Trump. Utah (mormon belt) will be Republican.
5. Science and politics are not the same. From the anti-elite Washington (2016), to the anti-scientific elite (2020). Trump built a narrative bridge between 2016 and 2020. It served him to counteract the more than 230,000 deaths and the almost nine and a half million infections from covid-19. Thus, with mass rallies and directly confronting scientific arguments, it managed to unite its anti-confinement and anti-vaccine base and also widen it. Saving the economy was, for them, saving the country.
6. Economic vote. Trump has flagged the economy throughout his campaign. And it seems to have paid off. Faced with a crisis situation, it seems to have overcome the adversity of American citizens thinking about who has managed the health crisis better, to think about who will better manage the economic crisis that may come.
7. We vote for personality and character. ¿What’s wrong with it Trump that also pleases many sectors that do not feel represented or identified with the traditional electoral and political offer?
Trump embodies the audacity of the scoundrel who everyone considers the loser and finally manages, with all kinds of tricks, to defeat the predetermined destiny. He is the smart guy who cheats and lies to the smart to win, and who is capable of anything for victory. His model is not merit, but defiant audacity.
8. The failure – again – of the polls. Despite the warnings, despite the fact that the pollsters indicated that everything was planned, the very tight result shows that the polls have failed again in a resounding way. You cannot govern a society that is not understood, and pollsters ask for your American views rather than observing and analyzing your hidden behaviors, emotions and biases. Again, Trump was right: “Ignore the polls, we are going to do well, and they are a lie.”
9. The Clinton style and Obama charisma questioned (Even if he wins, Biden finally). The Clinton style, a successful brand during the nineties, is injured, and consecutively. Obama’s charisma, for his part, may fall short for the second time. Thus, the legacy and the Obama myth, are blurred and, for now, cannot transcend. Contempt your rival prevents you from understanding their reasons, their motivations and their connections with the soul of the voters.
10. Aesthetics on ethics. Donald Trump’s cap, known as MAGA for its slogan “Make America great again” has been an icon of the electoral campaign through which Trump managed to connect with his followers by throwing it on stage or well knocking down -virtually- to Democrats in his wake as he showed in one of his last and playful videos.