US elections 2020: when they are, who the candidates are, what the polls say. A discussion of facts to the US presidential election on 3 November. The two candidates competing in the 2020 US elections are current President Donald Trump, a Republican, and Joe Biden, a Democrat, accompanied by Mike Pence and Kamala Harris as candidates for the vice presidency.
The magic number to keep in mind during the night between Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 November is 270. It refers to the minimum threshold of large voters needed to seize the White House and become president of the United States. The American electoral system provides for a semi-direct election: the Electoral College appoints the president with an absolute majority for a term of four years. This is made up of 538 large voters. Each federated state elects a number of delegates equal to the number of representatives available to the congress.
2020 United States Presidential election facts
The scenario in which these 2020 US elections take place is as unprecedented as it is dramatic: the country is the most affected in the world by the coronavirus pandemic, with over 5.5 million Americans who have contracted Covid-19 and more than 170,000 deaths. In addition to this precarious health situation, the country is also in recession, with the unemployment rate exceeding 11 percent and the gross domestic product contracting by nearly 33 percent in the second quarter of the year.
Last debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden
The second and final presidential debate between outgoing President Donald Trump and Democratic opponent Joe Biden took place on 22 October. Less than two weeks after the 3 November vote, the two candidates met on the stage of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, with the moderation of Kristen Welker, White House correspondent for the NBC broadcaster.
Unlike the first meeting, held on 29 September, the organizing committee decided to block the microphones of the candidate not directly addressed to avoid unsolicited interruptions or intrusions and instead give more space to dialogue.
Another confrontation was originally scheduled for 15 October but was canceled when Trump announced he tested positive for Covid-19. After a dispute over the possibility of holding a virtual debate – a scenario appreciated by Biden’s team, but disputed by Trump – last week, the two candidates finally held two meetings simultaneously, but on different television networks.
The new coronavirus and American healthcare
The first issue, predictably, immediately brought attention to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still recording record numbers in the United States. While Trump has repeatedly used his personal situation as an example, claiming that he contracted the virus and that he was healed quickly, Biden pointed the finger at the country’s general situation, accusing his opponent of not having yet approved a plan to manage. The emergency: “I’ll take care of it, I’ll make sure I have a plan.”
The perception and the proposals put forward by the two candidates could not be more different. In fact, according to Trump, “we are learning to live with the virus”, Biden said we are “learning to die” with it. Then pressed on the possibility of a new lockdown, Trump argued that “we must open the country, or we won’t have one anymore.” At the same time, Biden highlighted the importance of restarting safely, limiting risks.
The two candidates also expressed radically opposing views on the issue of climate change. “I love the environment. We have the best numbers on carbon emissions in the last 35 years,” said Trump, who then attacked the Paris Agreement from which his administration withdrew in 2017: “I will not sacrifice dozens of thousands of jobs for that deal. It would have destroyed our industry”.
“Global warming is a threat to humanity,” Biden replied. “In the next ten years, we will pass the point of no return.” With his Climate plan, the former vice president aims to create new job opportunities by installing 50 thousand charging stations for electric cars and the improvement of energy consumption in six million buildings. All this generates an economic growth “higher than one trillion dollars” (about 854 billion euros) than the current president’s proposal. From a financial point of view, Trump called the plan “a disaster” and “madness”, stating, “They want to spend $ 100 trillion, tear down existing buildings and build new ones with much smaller windows.”
Biden also pointed out that the fastest growing sectors in the United States are wind and photovoltaic energy. “He [Trump, ed] thinks that wind turbines cause cancer,” he said. With my plan, we can grow sustainably”. The discussion then shifted to fracking, a controversial practice that allows the oil or natural gas to be extracted from the subsoil. “I don’t intend to eliminate fracking, rather capture harmful emissions,” the former vice president said, responding to Trump’s allegations.
During the debate, the moderator asked the two candidates to comment on the news, recently released by the leading American media, that Russia and Iran are again interfering with the elections, including sending intimidating messages to Democratic voters.
Biden took the opportunity to put the spotlight on the hidden accounts in China by the current president and underline how, between 2013 and 2015, Trump would have paid almost 200 thousand dollars (about 170 thousand euros) in taxes to the Beijing government, against the $ 750 (€ 640) paid into US coffers in 2017. “I have many bank accounts, I’m a businessman,” was the reply. The issue of foreign interference arose several times during the evening, leading the two candidates to exchange mutual accusations regarding secret affairs and allegedly opaque sources of income.
Immigration and racism
Speaking of immigration, Biden then talked about the possibility of giving citizenship to those who currently reside illegally in the country: “In my first hundred days I will give citizenship to eleven million people.” Trump stressed that he could already have done this during his tenure as vice president.
On the subject of racism, Trump did not hesitate: “No one did more than I did [for African Americans, ed.]. Perhaps the only exception is Abraham Lincoln”. The president then attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, citing some slogans used against law enforcement and concluding: “I am the least racist person in this room”. So Biden replied: “In America, there is a problem of institutional racism. We are all created equal, but we are increasingly moving away from an inclusive society”.
No reference by either candidate to right-wing extremists: a radical change from the last debate, when Trump refused to condemn white supremacism and cited the motto of the neo-fascist organization of the Proud Boys, “Stand back and stand by “.