Last week, AmCham Belgium had the pleasure of virtually hosting White House Correspondent for Fox News Radio Jon Decker for a rundown of the upcoming US elections. The event took place the day following the first Presidential debate.
Decker gave a full account of his predictions for the election, alongside comparisons to past elections. He then moved on to answering questions from the participants which brought us to the topics of foreign policy, strategy, voter sentiment and longer-term predictions. (Spoiler: Maybe not the last Trump family member to give the presidency a go.)
The speaker started by characterizing the nature of this election which, in his opinion, is being framed as a referendum on President Trump. He stated that in the US, just like in other countries, the result is a question of ‘raising the energy of your party’, and this time round it might just be raising energy for or against Trump.
The comparisons with this election and past ones are numerous. Joe Biden will probably win the popular vote, like Al Gore did in 2000 or, more recently, Hillary Clinton in 2016. Yet, to win a US Presidential election, you need to win 270 of the 538 electoral votes. It is likely to take some time after Election Day until a winner is declared, similar to how it took five weeks before Al Gore conceded to George W. Bush. Delays could be due to vote counting, as an unprecedented amount of postal votes are expected, or contestation of the results. Both candidates are ‘lawyering up’, and in the anticipated case of a close result, Decker expects legal teams from both sides to visit states to validate or invalidate votes (reminiscent of the Florida recount dispute in 2000).
Decker shared his prediction map, which showed 232 electoral votes going to the Democrats and 260 to the Republicans, with three remaining states pivotal for the final decision: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Taking these three for granted is a mistake the candidates will not repeat this year, chasing one another to visit them and appearing in numerous advertisements. Decker predicts Biden will flip Pennsylvania and Michigan for the Democrats, leaving Wisconsin, with its 10 electoral votes, as the decisive state in the 2020 election.
Voter demographics will, of course, be an important factor in the election outcome. Decker mentioned in particular African-Americans, who may be motivated by recent racial tensions to turnout at the polls in larger numbers, and also suburban women, who favored Trump in 2016. With his law and order strategy, President Trump is appealing to what he believes to be the ‘silent majority’. When prompted to give his opinion on the debate of the previous night, Decker compared it to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He pointedly remarked that the 7% of undecided voters were probably not convinced either way by the debate.
When questioned about foreign policy for the next four years, Decker drew on a recent exclusive interview he had with Trump where the President elusively said we could expect ‘more of the last four years’ policies for the next four years’. If Joe Biden is the next President, one can expect a return to an internationalist perspective in US foreign policy and a rebuilding of the transatlantic relationship.
To conclude, a point thoroughly stressed was that once again we will likely witness a handful of voters or a single state (Wisconsin) playing a decisive role for the rest of the world, and even after Tuesday, November 3, we might not have a settled outcome.
Curious to learn more about the US elections and find out where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most to voters? Join our virtual event ‘#Decision2020: A running commentary of the US Presidential Race’ taking place on Friday, October 16, right after the second Presidential Debate.
About the author
Alicia is involved in planning, organizing and evaluating events at AmCham Belgium and provides supports to the member community. She is a Sustainable Development graduate and joined the Chamber in September 2020.