U.S. Presidential Election 2020: Policies Matter more than Candidates’ Identity

Joe Biden, Donald Trump (USA) | OPED COLUMN Magazine

Joe Biden is doing better among women and the young than Hillary Clinton did, but losing ground among Catholic voters. It appears that policies matter more than the candidates’ own identity.

John Bruton | Oped Column Syndication

The US Presidential Election nears an end.

I took a close look at latest IBD tracking poll shows Biden ahead by 49.5% to 44.7%. This same polling company was one of the few to foresee a Trump victory in 2016 when it showed him ahead of Hillary Clinton by 45% to 43.4%. So this is good news for Joe Biden. Biden seems to have made particular gains in the Mid West and the South by comparison with Hillary Clinton.

Digging down into the poll, one sees some contrasts. Biden is ahead of Trump among the 18 to 44 age group by 12 points, whereas Clinton won among that group in 2016 by only 6 points.

Trump is beating Biden by 8 points among male votes about the same margin by which he defeated Clinton in that group in 2016. But Biden’s margin over Trump among females is 17 points, whereas Clinton had a margin of victory among females of only 4 points.

So it is American women who are enabling Biden to do better than Clinton did. The fact that Clinton herself is a woman seems not to have helped her that much.

Biden is doing better than Trump among Americans of all income levels, but Trump defeats Biden among Americans who have only High School education by 55% to 43%, which suggests the divide is not strictly about money. There is a resentment of meritocracy based on academic credentials among those who left school early.

Trump leads Biden by 4 points among Catholics, whereas Clinton defeated Trump in 2016 among Catholics by 7 points. This is notwithstanding the fact that Biden himself is a practising Catholic. Trumps approach to judicial appointments is important here. There is little sign here of an Irish American Catholic constituency for Biden.

As with Clinton among women voters, the identity of the candidate himself is less important than what he/she is perceived as representing.

Rural dwellers opt for Trump by a margin of 63% to 33%. He led Hillary Clinton by a similar margin among that demographic. Rural voters feel excluded from the national conversation.

Overall the trends displayed in the 2016 Election seem to be being accentuated even in 2020 but with the margin favouring the Democrats this time.

If Joe Biden wins and wishes, as he says he does, to unify Americans he will need to reach out especially to the groups of Americans who did NOT vote for him.

But this may not be what his Congressional caucus or his party activists will want him to do.

John Bruton was the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland  (1994-97) and the European Union’s Ambassador to the United States (2004-09). He had held several important offices in Irish government, including Minister for Finance, Minister for Industry & Energy, and Minister for Trade, Commerce & Tourism.

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