To predict outcome of political events, especially the Presidential election, one must absorb news inputs broadly, follow event development closely and then make an in-depth analysis. In the digital world today, it is not so difficult to achieve the first two steps, but there are challenges to sort out the facts (apart from fake news), to make acute observation (apart from political spinning) and to reveal the truth and insight beyond the mass media spin. If one has an analytical mind and a strong interest in politics, one may take a brave stand to predict the outcome of the political event such as the 2020 US Presidential Election. This article is heading towards that direction. The Trump-Pence and Biden-Harris tickets are written on a red and blue balloon respectively. Through our analysis we hope to pop one balloon to predict the winner before November 3rd.
Trump won the 2016 Presidential election as a dark horse. He excited his campaign with his strong personality, ruthless attacks on the shortcomings of the previous Administration and his fellow contestants. He won by promising to treat America First and make her Great Again. Trump’s first term is very eventful focused on carrying out his campaign promises. Trump’s actions and tweets inflamed the media because of his unorthodox behavior in creating and dealing with events and his ability of toying with the media with attention catching remarks through his tweets and news conferences. He survived through a merciless impeachment engineered by the Democrats. He launched a controversial trade war based on his America First Principle. He floundered in his management of the COVID-19 pandemic, a natural disaster not really his or anyone’s fault, but he has chosen to blame the COVID-19 and its damage on economy entirely on China, adding to his blame list: China was the culprit for American jobs lost and industries failed. At this point, the polls are casting doubts on his chance of winning the second term.
Joe Biden as the former Vice President won his party primary largely because of being an easier rallying figure among frustrating Democrats who had been divided by over a dozen Presidential candidates only united by ‘dump-Trump’ sentiment. Biden has taken the strategy of unifying his party by integrating his fellow contestants’ ideas (mostly liberal proposals on domestic issues) rather than dwelling deep into issues with his own analyses and solutions. He and his party recognize that the selection of his running mate is extremely important for winning the pivoting voting blocks categorized as women, black, immigrants such as Hispanic and Asians who are still sitting on the fence weighing the General Happiness Index and performance of economy. Hence, it was no surprise that Biden selected Kampala Harris, a woman, a black and a daughter of immigrants as his Vice President running mate.
Traditionally, the incumbent team would not change the running mate (unless for health reason) simply for validating a successful current Administration. Pence has been a very supportive Vice President in a similar way as Biden was for Obama. Pence had no scandalous stories. Pence was explicit in his anti-LBGT position which had been attacked by both Biden and Harris. Due to the COVID-19, this year’s campaign rallies and debates will be very different from the traditional format and practice. This actually could give Biden a slight benefit since Trump was quite effective in exciting his campaign rallies and in debating his opponent with his attack tactics, quite infectious in the media. Biden in contrast is slow on his feet in delivering speeches or responses. However, Senator Harris is an effective speaker as shown by her speech against Betsy Devos’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education. Pence had to cast his deciding vote to pass Devos’s confirmation. The coming Pence Harris debate has already been touted as a must see TV with odds favoring Harris, however, the real impact on the voting blocks will likely depend on the messages exchanged in the two debates.
Trump-Pence versus Biden-Harris Presidential contest is basically a red (conservative) against blue (liberal) bipartisan competition ideologically similar to the 2016 election. Even though the polls are giving Biden-Harris a few percentage points lead but that by no means assures a Democrat Victory. Biden wrote to his supporters: "You make a lot of important decisions as president. But the first one is who you select to be your Vice President. I've decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” This quote revealed Biden’s mind that the 2020 Presidential election is still very much a fight with unpredictable outcome. Thus, his VP selection was more based on ‘vote block’ calculation than on VP qualification - An unfortunate and sad reality about democracy - electing vote-getters rather than selecting most capable and qualified leader.
Harris, the daughter of Jamaican father and an Indian mother (both Immigrants), not only may add women votes and black votes for Biden but also may add some Asian (Indian) American votes for the Biden-Harris ticket. However, for the broader Asian American population, the B-H versus T-P Presidential election may present a difficult choice deserving an in-depth analysis. If the election were dominated by the domestic issues (economy +), the Asian population is generally divided into blue (Democrats) and red (Republicans) factions resulting in a mutually canceled voting result. This phenomenon causes political candidates paying less attention to the Asian Americans’ demands (in contrast, the Jewish voters tend to be a more united block thus can better command the politicians' attention to Jewish interests).
In the 2020 election, the U.S. China policy has become a strong factor in influencing the voting outcome since the mass media narrative has been tying American economy (security, happiness, …) negatively to the rise of China. The Pivot to Asia policy initiated by the Obama Administration was targeting at containing China, but the Trump Administration has elevated the containment policy to a higher level, not only blaming China as the culprit for America’s shrinking influence on the world stage and her economic problems but also treating China as the threatening competitor. Pompeo's recent speech at the Nixon library openly described a ‘war plan’ against China, urging the U.S. allies (with keen effort in recruiting India, a non-alignment nation) to form a U.S. led coalition against China ranging from trade restrictions, technology sanctions to military exercises. Since the breakout of COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.-China relation hit the bottom witnessing the U.S. playing the Taiwan card (selling arms to Taiwan and encouraging its independence movement) and Hong Kong and Xinjiang Human Rights accusation.
The Asian voter population are generally less vocal about American politics but they, comparing to White Americans, are more informed and sensitive to Foreign Affairs. The current hostile U.S. China Policy will present a difficult choice to the Asian Americans, especially the Chinese Americans and the American immigrants from India, Vietnam , the Philippine, etc.. The two parties and the T-P and B-H tickets appear to be united on the China policy which may cause the Asian Americans to shy away from voting (with no good choice). The Asian Americans think that a hostile China policy, or worse a war plan, will lead to a disaster in Asia, the U.S. and the world. So the author would predict a less turn-out of Asian American voters in the 2020 Presidential election. This phenomenon will make picking or predicting a winner more difficult at this point.
However, if either B-H or T-P would tone down the senseless 'blame China' or 'hate China' rhetoric and advocate a more sensible ‘Pivot to Asia Peace’ policy and commitment, the election outcome would be very different. Perhaps for the first time, the Asian American voters may show solidarity in supporting one U.S. Presidential choice, hence the Asian Americans may influence the outcome of the 2020 election. This prediction will generally stand even with further analysis on the Asian American voters sentiments in their subgroups, say pro-Mainland China, pro-Taiwan, pro-India, pro-ASEAN, pro-Hong Kong protests and anti-Hong Kong Protests and pro-BLM (Black Live Matters) and anti-BLM. Perhaps, understanding the Asian Americans’ different views on the U.S. foreign policy may become important in determining the winner of the presidential election. This will be a discussion in a future column.