Saturday 1 August 2020

Will Trump Win the Presidential Election in November?

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 immigration disasters.  

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. 

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