Running for the White House - USA 2020

Two radically opposed rallies in Florida, legal battle over ballot counting and US Senate elections

Running for the White House
Running for the White House © FRANCE 24

On November 3, US citizens will elect their new president. The country is currently dealing with racial and social tensions, as well as environmental issues and the challenges brought forth by the coronavirus, which has already killed more than 220,000 Americans. With so much at stake, this election is set to be crucial in shaping the country’s future trajectory.

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- Picture of the week: Donald Trump and Joe Biden were both on stage in Florida for duelling and radically opposed campaign events. The president held a packed rally for thousands of largely unmasked supporters that looked much like a pre-coronavirus rally. Biden, on the other hand, held a socially distant, drive-in rally with a few hundred masked supporters. The contrast was as stark in the messaging. Biden addressed the pain and suffering caused by the pandemic, slamming the president for waving the "white flag", while Trump once again downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus, saying the US was "rounding the turn". This as the country nears 230,000 deaths from Covid-19.

- Latest controversy: Democrats and Republicans are engaged in a battle over voting, especially by mail, which many people have turned to because of Covid-19. More than 300 lawsuits have been filed across the country, with some of the most important cases related to voting in battleground states, which could determine the outcome of the election. In states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of extending deadlines for receiving and counting mail-in ballots. But the Court also said it could reexamine the challenges after the election, prompting several states to announce they would be counting but setting aside ballots received after Election Day, in case they were needed for a recount.

- Campaign focus: With Joe Biden increasing his lead over Donald Trump nationwide, Democrats have grown more confident they can not only win the White House but also take back control of the Senate. For that, they need a net gain of four seats. In recent months, Democrats have expanded the number of states in which their candidates are seen as competitive to about a dozen races. Republican incumbents look most vulnerable in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Iowa but states like Georgia and South Carolina could still bring election night surprises, prompting the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to admit his party has a 50-50 chance of losing control of the Senate, which the GOP has held since 2014.

- What's next: With Election Day just around the corner, here are a few things to watch out for, starting with the possibility of a record-breaking turnout. So far, more than 80 million people have already voted, nearly two thirds of the total number of ballots cast in 2016. But in the US electoral system, not all votes are created equal, so the path to the 270 Electoral College votes will come down to a handful of battleground states. For Donald Trump, Florida is almost a must win while Ohio will be a good indicator, since no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning the state. For Joe Biden, it's all about reconstructing the Blue Wall lost in 2016, by winning Midwestern states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Most importantly, be patient. With mail-in ballots through the roof because of the pandemic, it might take some time to count all the ballots, meaning we might have to wait a while for official results.

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