The countdown has started: in a hundred days, from Sunday July 26, the United States will know the name of the one who will occupy the White House for the next four years. But, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the fifty-ninth presidential election is already marked by a disrupted campaign – “The strangest in modern history”, according to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
When will the presidential election take place?
It will be held on Tuesday, November 3. Not surprisingly, because this date stems from a long tradition. Since 1845, the day of the election of the President of the United States (election day) takes place on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. To understand the choice of this date, it is necessary “To imagine what America was like in the XIX0 century “, explained, on the occasion of the 2016 presidential election, public radio NPR, where most people “Were farmers, devoted Christians and needed time to travel [jusqu’aux bureaux de vote] “ There is no question, therefore, of holding the election during the weekend (under religious law), nor during periods of intense work by farmers.
But what was convenience then is a drawback today: Most citizens work Tuesdays. The polling stations are therefore frequented early in the morning and in the early evening, just before they close, which results in sometimes endless queues which discourage some voters. For several years now, many voices have been raised to put an end to this tradition. Without success to date.
Who are the main candidates?
Two parties share the lion’s share of American politics: the Republican Party (Grand Old Party, GOP) and the Democratic Party. The poster of their duel for this 59e The ballot has been known for a few months already, but it must still be formalized during the national conventions of these two formations.
Republican Donald Trump, 74, is running for a new mandate. He is the only candidate running in the ranks of the GOP. A small group of Republicans, however, are active in denouncing his “Incompetence” and the devastation his re-election would cause. United within the organization Lincoln Project (in homage to the president who ended the division of the country after the civil war), they carry one of the few discordant voices in this political camp.
In addition, in early June, former Secretary of State and Chief of Defense Staff Colin Powell announced his support for the Democratic candidate, becoming the first high-profile Republican figure to speak out publicly in favor of Donald’s rival. Trump.
Democrat Joe Biden. Since April, the Democratic caciques have rallied behind their candidate, Joe Biden. The 77-year-old former vice-president and former Delaware senator from Delaware won the squad’s nomination with the withdrawal of rival Bernie Sanders.
The independent senator from Vermont, who had long criticized the lukewarmness of Joe Biden’s program, justified this rally with a priority: “Defeat someone who (…) is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country “. However, this support risks having no effect on the most determined fringe of its electorate. On the left, the Democratic Socialists of America mini-party has, in effect, announced that it refuses to side with the former vice-president.
Are there other candidates?
While the political system in the United States is bipartisan, that does not prevent other candidates from running into the race – even if they do not run in all states for lack of funding or sponsorship. This year, it will be necessary in particular to count on the presence of the ecologists of the Green Party, with the “ticket “ Howie Hawkins, chair, and Angela Walker, vice-chair. But also libertarians, whose candidate, Jo Jorgensen, was appointed on May 23.
Another contender for the top office is rapper Kanye West, who held his first – and lunar – campaign rally on July 19 in Charleston, South Carolina. He already has no chance of being elected president, as registrations are already closed in Texas and Florida, two major states for the ballot. But it is well registered in some states, such as Oklahoma.
If these “small candidates” Usually get very low scores, sometimes they can have a real impact on the outcome of the ballot. In 2000, the Democratic candidate, Al Gore, was declared the loser against the Republican George W. Bush, for 537 votes in Florida, state where Ralph Nader of the Green Party had collected 97,000 votes.
Donald Trump faces many criticisms in his management of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also in his reaction to the protests against police violence and racism triggered by the death of George Floyd. Its image has been damaged by these three months of crisis.
According to the poll aggregator for Real Clear Politics, on July 24, rival Joe Biden has an 8.7 point lead in voting intentions. But these results are purely indicative since the election is being played at the state level. The former vice president, however, is ahead of him, for now, in most key states in 2016, such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as in the former Republican stronghold of Arizona.
“Trump lags behind Biden in many key states, but he keeps his chances given the determination of his base”, recalled however, at the beginning of July, our correspondent in Washington, Gilles Paris.
What are the next steps ?
- Campaign meetings on hold
Confined for long weeks, Mr. Biden did not organize a public outing between March 15 and May 25. On June 30, he decided he would not hold a campaign rally because of the health crisis. Risky, this announcement marks a clear contrast with Donald Trump: the Republican has been strongly criticized for having organized, on June 20, a rally back to the campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which brought together several thousand people in this state of the South in the midst of an outbreak of Covid-19 cases.
- In August: national conventions
The parties organize a national convention during the summer before the presidential election. This is both the last act of an internal campaign for each team and the start of the real race for the White House. It is during these conventions that delegates officially invest their candidate for President and Vice-President – the “ticket”.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Donald Trump announced on July 23 that the Republican convention scheduled for Jacksonville, Florida in August would not take place. “We will have online meetings”Mr. Trump said. For their part, the Democrats announced a month ago that the national convention, scheduled for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from August 17 to 20, would be done almost entirely online.
- From September 29 to October 22: the debates
Three debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden are scheduled – the presence of the other suitors not yet confirmed – and a debate between potential vice-presidents. The first will be held on September 29 at Notre Dame University, Indiana. The next ones will take place October 15 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and October 22 at Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee. The potential vice-presidents will debate on October 7 in Utah.
- November 3: voting day
The President of the United States is elected by indirect suffrage. Thus, when they go to the polls, citizens do not nominate a candidate but voters, depending on their support for a particular candidate. The votes are not counted at the national level but at the level of each State. Each of them has a specific number of voters, determined by their demographic weight and corresponding to the number of representatives they have in Congress. A candidate must obtain at least 270 voters, out of 538, to be elected.
Some states have also put in place early voting procedures; others, like Colorado and Hawaii, have opted for an Internet vote, recalls the Vote.org site.
- January 20: the investiture
The mandate of the 538 grand electors being almost imperative – that is to say that they are obliged to vote for the candidate of their party -, as soon as the entire college is elected, we know the name of the future tenant of the White House. But, the “official” election will only take place in December and the president will not take office until January 20, 2021.
Our selection of articles on the presidential election in the United States