Trump and Biden blitzkrieg, the third spike notwithstanding

Trump Biden
What moves relationship between two nations, like the US and India, are real interests that lie deeper beyond transient issues | File photo

It is basically down to the wires when political pundits are looking not at the traditional red and blue states, but in the potential for the landscape to be altered in the aftermath of November 3. For all the brave talk coming out of the Trump campaign and from the White House, the Grand Old Party is worried about a Trifecta—the White House, House of Representatives and Senate going by way of the Democrats; and privately Republican Senators, some of whom are up for re-election, are worried about a bloodbath in the Senate. An eerie and creepy feeling in the Republican camp that was once exuding and brimming  with confidence of a second term for the incumbent President Donald J Trump.

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If the White House swearing in of Associate Justice Amy Barrett is anything to go by, even the Trump administration has finally come to terms with a word that it has disavowed for the last nine months—coronavirus. From a scandalous gathering in late September in the lawns of the White House that is said to have been the chief culprit in spreading of Covid to key members of the White House including the President, Tuesday’s event in the aftermath of the Senate confirmation of Judge Barret was quite a sober and somber event—social distancing and with face masks. No one including the super confident man in the Oval Office wanted to take any chances given that many of close aides of Vice President Mike Pence are now down with the Covid infection.

Appalling still is the notion that the Trump administration refuses to take the ongoing threat seriously especially when statistics show that the daily average of persons being infected is 69,000, the worst numbers in this round after the first two. The Trump campaign is finally realizing that the third spike is taking a heavy toll in traditionally politically red areas, especially in the critical battleground states. Still President Trump continues to mock the media houses of talking only about “Covid, covid, covid”. If more than 223,000 Americans have died so far, the numbers put out at the current rate for the end of February 2021 is simply stunning—500,000. And the small grace is that 130,000 would be saved by wearing masks.

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Numbers still do not seem to matter to an administration—the White House Chief of Staff is of the view that the game plan is not to go about controlling the virus; the President disagrees and obviously so with only a handful of days to go for the final showdown. For a person who believes in loud and boisterous rallies, Trump’s campaign schedule is pretty packed and most of them will be outdoor rallies, perhaps only a few with facial coverings. The President is focused in the battleground states, especially of a thinking that the Road to the White House in 2020 is through Pennsylvania. The feverish campaigning in small pockets of this state has shown the Trump campaign opening the cans of fear—that former Vice President Joseph Biden is against fracking technology in the oil industry that will potentially end up people seeking unemployment benefits. Add to this thugs invading homes with no police to answer calls because Democrats have shut down or disbanded law and order mechanisms.

Some Democrats are somewhat disheartened that Biden is not doing many more open rallies but is somehow confined to virtual events and that too in and around his hometown of Delaware or stepping in and out of the border town of Pennsylvania. But closer examination shows that this is perhaps a carefully worked out strategy that keeps the candidate closer to his main theme of the campaign—that the Republican incumbent and his administration dismissed the virus in a callous fashion and even participated and encouraged events that could have turned out to be super spreaders of the virus. But at the tail end of the campaign and seeing the momentum in states that were essentially written off for the Democrats, Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris are venturing into Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina and Texas, something unthinkable a few weeks ago. In fact latest polls have shown that more women are coming out in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket in Red States.

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At this time of the election stage, polls will tighten both nationally and in the battleground states; and this is precisely what is taking place. Biden still hangs to a national lead of about nine points over President Trump and is positioned in an interesting fashion in the critical and battleground states. Biden holds on to a lead—slender and within the margin of error in some instances—in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona and Wisconsin. Trump is tweaking in very narrow margins in Ohio and Iowa—1.8 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively. Both Biden and Trump are seen neck and neck in Georgia and Texas. Political analysts are saying that Biden will get over 270 electoral college votes even without Ohio, Iowa, Georgia or Texas; but if he is able to lay his hands on the Lone Star state of Texas, he would not have to worry about battlegrounds of Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. But for President Trump, the story is quite different: he would have to hold on to the traditional red states and has to win Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin if he is to remain behind the Resolute Desk for four more years.

The fact that more than 60 million Americans have already cast their ballots is indicative of the seriousness the electorate has taken this November 3 election. Whether partisans will agree or not, there is no doubt that this is an election that will largely be defined by the coronavirus that has taken a heavy toll on America and its people in every way that can be imagined. Being in denial or pretending that it can be wished away soon is something not in the interests of the country or the world at large.

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