At 4pm Sydney time one thing is absolutely certain about the 2020 US Election. It’s a tight race. US President Donald Trump has, once again, defied the polls. The Democrats aren’t out of the race but it’s close.
Joe Biden and Trump have each carried numerous states they were favoured to win, with tight races unfolding in major swing states. The Democrats gained a Senate seat in Colorado but lost one in Alabama. Trump looks very close in Florida, Biden has New Hampshire, and in Georgia and North Carolina it’s close.
Pennsylvania is undecided but is leaning towards Trump.
It looks like a final verdict might not be known for many days.
“They warned us. They said it would not be over right away. They said it could take days for all the votes to be counted. They told us to wait for the slow gears of democracy to grind toward a conclusion,” The New York Times reporter Sarah Lyall wrote.
It is jarring and reminiscent of 2016 where the results dramatically diverged from the polls. Biden has been ahead in most polls for weeks. The question – whether the flaws in the 2016 polls had been addressed – has been posed so many times and the answer consistently delivered has been yes. And yet we are staring down the barrel of a second Trump term.
It is incredible to consider. America has led the global death count for COVID19, with more than 220,000 deaths. Trump’s management of the pandemic has been appalling: he has consistently rejected health and scientific advice and the virus has spread exponentially through the country as a result.
He has teetered perilously close to impeachment. He has attracted and caused more controversy than any other world leader in living memory. He has arguably incited violence, bigotry and white supremacy while America has faced heightened racial tension.
The prospect of a second Trump term is possible and terrifying. Reports from the US point to alarming social tension: shops have been boarded up, gun sales are at an all-time high and the country is dangerously divided. A second term is more concerning than a first: it’s a mandate and validation of the manner in which he has led America.
Here in Australia it would bolster support for ultra-conservative policies which for anyone concerned about climate, equity and social justice is a bitter pill to swallow.