US Election: keep an eye on the swing states

The swing states to keep your eyes on are Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, and, of course Florida. All were won by Trump in 2016; if he falls in two or more of these states the chances are that Biden will be take the presidential prize.

If the United States presidential election were to be decided based on which candidate made the most noise, the incumbent, Donald Trump, would win hands down. I don’t think there has been a calculation of the decibel level generated by the two candidates and their often voluble supporters in swing states during the final days of campaigning, but my guess would put Trump the noisier by a factor of about 12 to one, despite that the two protagonists covered roughly the same number of miles across the same states.

Much the same happened in 2016, when Trump was bellowing ‘crooked Hillary’, and defied the polls by winning. Can his megaphone campaigning defy the polls again?  Or will the quieter, more meahis, Jo Biden, former vice president to Barack Obama, be elected, as the polls suggest, enabling him to carry out his pledge ‘to renew American leadership and to mobile global action on global threats.’  Should Biden win there will be even more noise, as Trump delivers on his promise that ‘bedlam’ will follow such a result.  Certainly, there will be rejoicing in much of the free world.

But we are jumping ahead. The election could be called just minutes after the polls close at midday Australian Eastern time, Wednesday in November 4, or may not be until weeks later – perhaps even into December. The first inkling should come from Florida where Trump and Biden are neck and neck, too close to call for most political pundits.

As of Sunday, it is estimated that more than two thirds of enrolled voters have already voted. The Democrats believe they will be the beneficiaries of the early vote. It is thought that rampant Covid-19 has driven the elderly to vote by post rather than risk infection in a crowded polling station on November 3. Most American states do not begin counting postal votes until after general voting closes, but Florida likes to get ahead; by 8pm US eastern time it could have counted most, if not all, its postal votes. So, when the US networks broadcast the early results from the Sunshine state after lunch on Wednesday we should get the first indications of the Florida result.  However, even if Biden is ahead, we can’t assume he will win, unless it is a Florida landslide.

The next results to watch for will be other swing states with the most electoral collage votes; these will finally decide the election. These are mostly in northern Mid West and include the rust belt cities that were won by Trump in 2016  based on his ‘Put America First’ call to bring jobs back from overseas.

With counting underway during Wednesday afternoon AEDT there will be many more pointers from America’s east coast states, but unless you are glued to the US networks, ABC Radio National’s PM at 5pm should provide the best pointers.

The swing states to keep your eyes on are Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, and, of course Florida. All were won by Trump in 2016; if he falls in two or more of these states the chances are that Biden will be take the presidential prize.  But it won’t end there. That is when Trump’s ‘bedlam’ begins: in all likelihood, Trump will insist that in a fair election votes cannot be counted past election night. “The election should end on November 3, not weeks later”, he tweeted last weekend, ignoring the fact that votes have always been counted after election night. The lawyers may then have a field-day.

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Colin Chapman is a writer, broadcaster and public speaker, who specialises in geopolitics, international economics, and global media issues. He is a former president of AIIA NSW and was appointed a fellow of the AIIA in 2017.

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