New Delhi: There are less than 100 days to go for the US to vote for a new president, and incumbent Donald Trump is in a state of panic.
In episode 537 of Cut The Clutter, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said Trump’s “fear of losing the elections” has resulted in him floating idea that elections be postponed. “Just like school children hoping against hope that an upcoming exam is cancelled,” Gupta said.
This fear has manifested itself in the US president junking opinion polls, bashing Twitter trends and betting markets.
Gupta explained why these trends have left Trump in a state of panic and whether he has the powers to postpone the elections at all.
Trump’s campaign against opinion polls, Twitter trends
Gupta said until March, Trump was only too happy to go along with opinion polls as the they showed him in favourable light. It was believed that Trump was unbeatable because the Democrats were busy with infighting. But with the tide turning and opinion polls reflecting that, Trump began to junk them.
Trump has even suggested that he will form a group to probe opinion polls that he finds fake, indicating his panic, Gupta said.
Gupta then explained why Twitter — Trump’s favourite platform to engage with the world — lost his favour. Trump directed his ire at Twitter after trends showed him in poor light. He accused Twitter of being “disgusting, ridiculous, unfair and illegal” because nothing positive ever trended on him. This too indicates panic.
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Can Trump postpone the election?
Gupta said that the US Constitutional framework makes it impossible for a president to postpone polls. The 12th Amendment to the US Constitution says that the Presidential Election Day will be governed by Congressional Act and not by the Executive i.e. the President.
A Congressional paper in 2004 noted that if the Congress wishes, it can delegate powers to the president to change dates of the election, but the reasons for the change — constitutional or unconstitutional — will be judged by the US Supreme Court.
In the event that Trump would like to change the 12th Amendment, he requires a majority in the Congress, which he is unlikely to get as the Democrats have a majority there.
Gupta also said that apart from the Congressional law, Trump may also not find favour with the Republicans to vote for a change in the election date as in the American system, party members are not bound to vote for the party.
Trump versus the US Postal Services system
Trump has also squared off with the US Constitution over the Postal Services system, which he said he cannot trust.
Like in India, the US allows absentee voters to cast their vote by mail. Due to the pandemic, a large number of voters are expected to send their votes by mail. In the US, postal ballots are counted only if the votes arrive in time. Trump fears that he will lose out on votes if ballots from key battleground states are late.
As Fareed Zakaria pointed out in ThePrint’s Off the Cuff, such a delay will particularly make a difference where there’s a close fight. If a large number of votes is not counted — as it happened in the 2018 midterm elections in Arizona when 3,000 postal votes didn’t get counted because they arrived late — there will be a huge impact on the results.
What opinion polls and betting markets say
Gupta cited data from a group called ‘538’, which collates data from all opinion polls.
According to ‘538’, Joe Biden has been maintaining a lead over Trump through both June and July in key battleground states like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania. Even in states that Trump hoped to win, like Iowa and Ohio, his lead is very thin.
Gupta said that Trump’s chances are much lower than Biden. On well-known websites like Smarkets for instance, Trump’s winning chances are 34.6 per cent, while Biden’s is 62.5 per cent.
The odds are against Trump and there’s less than 90 days to go for elections.
Watch the full CTC episode here:
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