Running to the finish.
Local attention was keyed closely last night to the tight United States Presidential election race between incumbent Donald Trump and Democrats challenger Joe Biden, which was too early to call in certain states at midnight TT time.
At that time, with the numbers changing continuously as votes arrived, US media were waiting to call crucial battleground states, including Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Iowa, Nevada and Montana.
Up to then, battleground Florida and North Carolina were described as being too close to call.
A hot contest was going on in Florida where Trump had a slight lead up to 11 pm. Apart from other states he won earlier, Trump was also projected to win Louisiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Mississipi and Wyoming.
Biden took other states, including New Hampshire, California, Illinois and also had a lead in Arizona.
The process in yesterday’s historic US election was governed by the US Electoral College format. That called for the winning candidate to get 270 votes out of the 538 total votes held by the College. In the 2016 Presidential race, Trump had won 306 votes.
But up to midnight pm TT time, Biden, was projected to have 192 votes and Trump, 114, with votes still arriving.
The trend emerged from a sharp, tight hard-running race between Biden, 77 and Trump, 74, in an election where voter turnout was reported to be significantly higher than those for the 2016 Presidential election which Trump won.
Last night, Trump’s camp had admitted the election was a tight race.
Here in T&T, Government was monitoring the incoming results.
Opposition UNC MP Rodney Charles (Foreign Relations) said, “As of 11 pm, it’s impossible to say who will win. As it stands, it appears President Trump has won Florida and each party is holding on to what was won in 2016. Whoever wins, it would be in our national interest to press the reset button in our relations with the US.”
Charles added: “If Trump wins we can expect little change in his Venezuelan policy, especially as he owes his victory in Florida to the Venezuelan anti-immigrant community in that state. We can also expect a continuation of his policies against multilateral institutions like the UN and the WHO.
“On the plus side, he recently renewed the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act which allows unilateral duty-free access in the US for a range of locally manufactured goods. In 2019 over 36 per cent of our exports and 51 per cent of our non-energy exports went to the US.”
Watched by the world, the US election created history, occurring under the shadow of the COVID-19 virus -which has killed 230,000 Americans.
US media reported record extraordinary turnout of electors with long lines from early. By midday, 100 million Americans had voted – and according to a CNN poll, more than 102 million others voted in previous weeks before the election
Election experts had flagged the votes from the battleground states of Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, South Carolina – and other south Appalachian states – to swing the race and produce the winner. Such areas are like the marginal constituencies in T&T.
Those states, along with California and New York, held the largest number of votes in the Electoral College.
At 8 pm, the first state Trump took was Indiana, where he copped 11 of the 270 votes in the Electoral College. Just before 9 pm, Biden’s first Electoral College votes – three – arrived when he won in Vermont.
With early voting, votes in several of the crucial battlegrounds topped 2016 levels. In Texas, a particularly crucial state for the Republicans, 10 million Texans voted before election day and 2.5 million mail-in ballots were submitted.
Losing not easy – Trump
At 2 pm, Trump had addressed reporters at his campaign headquarters where his workers applauded him. Trump, sounding slightly subdued and lower energy than usual, predicted, a “great night” and that he’d win.
“I think you’re gonna see some tremendous results, we’re set for tremendous success,” he said.
Trump said he wasn’t thinking of a concession or acceptance speech. He said winning is easy but “losing is never easy,” especially for him.
Trump predicted a “tremendous victory” in Texas. He expected a great night, “But it’s politics and an election and an election so you never know.”
At 3 pm a very upbeat Biden told a cheering Philadelphia crowd the situation had turned out incredible. He said people between ages 18 to 30 had turned out in large numbers and 54 per cent of voters were female.
“The country is ready…we’re gonna rebuild a new class, if you elect me, I won’t see any red states or blue states – but the United States,” Biden added.
An hour later, Biden pledged there would be a peaceful transition. However, Biden also indicated he’d say he was hopeful and didn’t want to make predictions though he said what was happening boded good for his team.
With results, public concerns were also on post-election issues, including violence after incidents which occurred during the rough campaign.
The FBI was probing claims that Trump supporters tried to run a Biden campaign bus off the road in Texas last week. In Oregon, last weekend the severed heads of two deer were found near a Black Lives Matter sign at a Biden supporter’s home.
Yesterday, US media reports in Texas showed supporters from both camps lobbying loudly near certain stations. In cities – especially in battleground states- businesses shuttered their premises, in case of protests and violence.
Bidding to foster peaceful acceptance, yesterday some US television stations ran programmes showing how previous defeated candidates gracefully accepted defeat. Many T&T born folks who are US citizens braved cold weather and crowds to vote yesterday.