The combination of an outdated electoral system, a disruptive president who calls into question the purity of the elections, and the impact of Covid-19 on voter turnout make the November elections look full of bad omens.
Combining an outdated electoral system, of a disruptive president who continually questions the purity and reliability of the elections and the impact of Covid-19 on the physical attendance of voters at the polls makes the presidential elections on November 3 appear loaded of bad omens and dire predictions. It is also true that, perhaps precisely because of this, the blood does not reach the river.
No one foresaw in 2016 that, with almost three million more in the total popular votes cast, Hillary Clinton would end up losing the election to Donald Trump because 70,000 votes in three highly contested states they fell to the side of their rival. Now, on the contrary, all possible scenarios are being thoroughly analyzed and nothing can come as a surprise.
The obsolescence of the system is demonstrated by the fact that what had happened only three times in the two hundred long years of US presidential elections – that the candidate who was not voted the most by the people rose to the presidency – has already happened twice since 2000 and it can happen again next November 3.
Indeed, virtually no one doubts that Joe Biden will far exceed the advantage in the popular vote reached by Hillary Clinton and that could get five or six million popular votes more than Trump. However, to cite just one of many possibilities, it could be enough for the president to win in the same states as four years ago, with the exceptions of Pennsylvania – Biden’s home state – and Michigan, to obtain reelection despite everything.
At bottom, it is one more consequence of the extraordinary polarization of the electorate; the president does not care to lose by greater margin States that are hostile to it, such as California, New York or Illinois, as long as its bases respond to it and that allows it to impose itself, even for the minimum, in states that are more conducive to it, such as Florida, North Carolina or Wisconsin.
Except in the atypical elections of the year 2000, when the very narrow margin that separated the two contenders in Florida led to a controversy that the Supreme Court had to end more than a month after the elections, the outcome of the presidential elections is usually known immediately . Those endless weeks in November 2000 were lived with the logical tensions, but they happened in a country much less disturbed than the present one.
It was before the 9/11 attacks, of the Iraq war, that the financial crisis that began in 2008 caused enormous collateral tears of all kinds – for example, in the real estate sector – of the brutal explosion of deaths by overdoses related to opiates, all of them phenomena that They have contributed in some way to the current climate of extreme political polarization.
And in this came the Covid-19, recklessly ignored by the tenant of the White House and whose American fatalities already exceed long to those caused by all the conflicts in which its troops fought beyond its borders, with the exception of the almost 300,000 deaths caused by World War II (although they will not be far from that figure).
Regardless of the terrifying health crisis and the recession that it has brought with it, the pandemic can have an impact nothing negligible in the increase in vote by mail, since, by their very nature and although security measures are adopted to minimize the risk of contagion, in the face-to-face voting centers there may be queues and crowds that, at least, extend the period of time dedicated by voters to vote ( do not forget that the procedure is carried out in a working day).
Ultimately, it is possible that the authorities in four or five decisive states for either candidate to achieve the 270 votes necessary to be proclaimed president will need more time to count the vote by mail. And if that delay causes a change in the final results whose final outcome is the victory of former Vice President Biden, believe me that we have the perfect storm.
And it is that a president who has declared on several occasions that heYou can only lose these elections if there is fraud and that, at the height of irresponsibility, he has come to ask his faithful to vote for him twice, by mail and in person – which is a crime – he is not going to leave office easily.
In case of defeat, Trump must not constitutionally leave the White House until January 20, 2021, a transition of almost 12 weeks that in such a charged atmosphere can become eternal, especially if – never seen before in the US – the Suspected losers take their protest to the streets.
But let’s not call the bad weather. Biden can still obtain a victory without turning the sheet or Trump with a triumph like the one he did four years ago, atypical and narrow, but unanswerable from the legal point of view. Despite the regrets, they are the two most reassuring possibilities.
Juan M. Hernández Puértolas. The vanguard