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The Countdown to Election Day

The Countdown to Election Day


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

There are 110 days now remaining before Election Day 2020.  Many Americans have three major concerns as the countdown intensifies. First and foremost, whether the national government finally will take control of organizing the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic?  Second, if the current polls prove to be correct on November 3 and former Vice-President Joe Biden is elected by both the electoral vote as well as the popular vote, will President Trump accept the outcome or will he challenge the results and refuse to leave the White House? Finally,–something that became once again only too real this week–will Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remain on the Court so that Trump and the Republican controlled Senate will not be permitted to push through a last minute conservative replacement, even during a lame duck congressional session?

It has become obvious to most observers that President Trump is unable to lead the nation during this terrible health crisis. Trump has shown no willingness to put aside his political considerations to mobilize the nation’s resources to fight the coronavirus. Absent presidential leadership in the midst of this crisis, it has been left to the governors, the mayors, and local officials to try to find the wherewithal to deal with the pandemic. They and the American people are praying that the Congress will provide States and the American people with the necessary funds to navigate the next months until a safe vaccine is extensively available.

There is also a growing concern that President Trump—himself and without Russian assistance—may well try to derail the election as well as the actual results. There is little doubt that should Biden win by small margins in highly contested states that President Trump not only will demand a recount but conduct a major fight in the Courts over voter fraud and erroneous counting. As he has demonstrated throughout his Presidency and in his private life as well, Donald Trump has lived by a motto of “when in doubt, litigate.” The President could well endeavor to prolong the legal process beyond Inauguration Day, creating an unprecedented Constitutional crisis.

Finally, the news this week that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was rushed to the hospital to treat a reported infection—since released–sent chills down many people’s spine. The remarkable 87-year-old jurist has had her series of serious medical issues over the past few years. The thought of her seat on the Court becoming vacant before next January and permitting President Trump to make another Supreme Court appointment, could insure a Trump legacy regardless of the results in November.

In August, Trump and Biden will each have their convention weeks in some form and then the campaign will ramp up after Labor Day. What form the campaign will take will be determined by each candidate based on their respective appreciation and respect for the science. How much contact each candidate will have in person with voters and the nature of public events are unknown at this point.

What is known is that within a few weeks Joe Biden will announce his Vice-Presidential nominee, and that there are four scheduled debates: three presidential and one vice-presidential. In all likelihood, they will be conducted without live audiences. There is also a guarantee that the national television airwaves will be inundated with a barrage of advertisements which might well exceed all the hours of new Netflix movies scheduled to be released in the month of October.

Most importantly, one will need to monitor how insidious and manipulative the efforts to suppress the vote and whether the states and federal government can effectively ensure the public’s access to voting in person or by mail. What remains truly unpredictable is only what the weather will be on Election Day and where it will rain.

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