A common general inquiry I get from friends who are not
Americans is “what is going on in the United States with respect to Trump—will he
be reelected?”. My answer is, “I don’t
know.” This may surprise some because
they see Biden as the obvious winner.
Here are my imperfect and half-baked thoughts on the subject:
1) My guess is that we’ll get good news about a
vaccine before the election. It may even
be distributed before the election to some in the United States. My guess is that Trump’s biggest concern with
mail in voting is that it’ll occur before the “best” news possible about a
vaccine to COVID-19.
2) What about Trump’s handling of COVID-19? This seems to look bad, but see above on point
1. Also, Trump put the lock-down
decisions in the hands of state and local government. Could Trump have done more earlier? Yes, I think he could of done more. The Chinese apparently knew that masks were
effective in slowing the spread. Why
didn’t we move faster on that? But, see state
and local government. And, please don’t
forget that many are suffering badly economically because of lock-downs.
3) What about Trump’s handling of race-related
issues, including the George Floyd horror and BLM? I think Trump’s botched this badly. However, please remember that before the last
election we had serious BLM protests. I
am concerned that Trump voters have become even more concerned about so-called “law
and order issues.” This means that turn-out
amongst the concerned may be strong. Hopefully, turn-out amongst BLM supporters
will be strong. Please remember one of
President Obama’s relatively quick responses to the protests: Be sure to get out
and vote in local elections.
4) What about the polls? I haven’t looked closely at this, but my
understanding is that the polls are not that far off from where Hilary Clinton
was in the last election in battleground states—she had quite a nice lead. I think Biden has a better lead now. We’ll see if it holds up. Also, please don’t forget one of the supposed
reasons the last election defied the polls—people didn’t want to admit they
were voting for Trump. That effect may
be even stronger now.
5) What about the debates? I am quite worried about this. I think Trump is going to blast Biden on any
supposed mistakes concerning the Obama/Biden administration. This time Biden is fully on the hook as VP:
1) Opioid Crisis; 2) Crappy Economy in Some Battleground States (goodness, AOC
actually is attacking Opportunity Zones); 3) Bad Trade Deals; 4) Skyrocketing Health Care Costs; and 4) the China
Relationship. Finally, Trump doesn’t
have to worry about how he looks debating a woman. He is going to fully unload on Biden. Biden also does not always present well in
debates. He sometimes looks befuddled. If Trump is sharp, he may come out as the
winner. Biden needs to hammer Trump on his
6) More stimulus is on the way. More money directly into the pockets of
Americans. If the Senate Republicans
were thinking, they’d continue the $600 unemployment benefit and push up the
stimulus. People are suffering economically. When was the last time the economy was very good--when Trump was president. Also, Trump just issued executive orders on pharmaceutical pricing and access--he's fulfilling campaign promises (see debates).
7) The most important issue concerning American
politics is likely turnout. If your
people don’t turnout, then you’ve got a serious problem. Will the lack of big-time rallies hurt
Trump? Maybe. However, I fear the continuing protests in
Portland and elsewhere are going to push some Trump protesters to vote. What about young people? Are they going to be pissed about Tik
Tok? Well, they need to register to
vote. Guess who won’t be on campus where
a lot of voter registration efforts happen?
Young people. What about Biden’s
VP choice? That may help with turnout
for him, but may help the other side as well.
And, don’t forget, the possibility of a Supreme Court vacancy(ies) soon
should be a good motivator to turnout. That’s
going to seriously be on the minds of members of both parties—it really should
for Dems especially given the age and health of Dem Supreme Court Justices.
What’s the answer? I don’t
know, but this election cycle is fascinating and the result is going to be
devastating to one side. What impact on IP and Innovation? Whoever wins the impact will be huge--from USPTO appointments and policy to FTC/DOJ appointments and policy to court appointments to trade.