11,000 votes in Michigan, 22,000 in Wisconsin and 44,000 in Pennsylvania. Four years ago, it is thanks to these 77,000 votes ahead of Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Without them, he would not have been able to collect the 46 major voters provided by these three states and would have said goodbye to his dreams of a majority in the electoral college. In the end, he will win with 304 voters against 227 for Hillary Clinton despite her victory in the popular vote by three million votes apart.
The fate of the American presidential election does not always hang on such a thin thread, but it often depends on the results in a handful of states arousing all the covetousness while all the others, acquired in advance for the cause of the champion. Republican or Democrat, find themselves abandoned by the campaign teams. This 2020 presidential election is no exception to the rule.
More pivotal states than in 2016
According to RealClearPolitics, a site aggregating the most recent opinion polls, the coin is still in the air (“toss up”) in a dozen states and it is difficult to say for the moment which side it will end up falling. November 3. Together, these states represent about a third of the big voters at stake next month (185 out of 538).
Among them, there are traditional key states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, and newcomers, such as Arizona, the scene of a large victory for Donald Trump four years ago. “What we notice is that there are many more pivotal states than in 2016. This is to the disadvantage of Donald Trump, who must win almost all of them to be able to be elected again”, underlines Jean-Eric Branaa, lecturer at the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas and author of the biography “Joe Biden” (New World editions).
The “Rust Belt” leans for Biden
Very courted by the two candidates, the key States seem for the moment closer to tilting on the side of Biden. The Democrat’s lead even exceeds on average 5 points in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the famous trio of the “Rust Belt” that escaped Hillary Clinton.
“In these states, the stakes are huge for Trump. If he loses them, it’s over for him, ”insists Marie-Cécile Naves, political scientist specializing in the United States and director of research at IRIS (Institute for International and Strategic Relations). The president’s travel map shows how vital these lands are to him. Again Tuesday evening, he held a meeting in Pennsylvania. Not wanting to repeat the same mistake as Clinton, who had abandoned these northern states, Joe Biden, himself from Pennsylvania, does not spare his trouble and the miles either.
Seniors at the heart of the battle
In this region, the cataclysm of the Covid-19 pandemic has a decisive role. “A lot of people have found themselves unemployed, lost their health coverage and have real problems to live”, explains Jean-Eric Branaa. The president’s outings to minimize the severity of the coronavirus and stage his return after being infected are also finding it very difficult to pass among the oldest voters in this part of the country.
Seniors are also at the heart of the battle between Biden and Trump in Florida, one of the usual justices of the peace in the presidential election. In 2016, Trump had established himself in the “Sunshine State” with a low hand on his 29 major voters, with a small lead over Clinton. Returning almost to the level of the former vice president last month in the polls, Trump has seen the gap widen again in a fortnight, a period coinciding with the first debate and the announcement of his positive test for coronavirus.
“The only senior that interests Donald Trump is senior Donald Trump himself,” Joe Biden said Tuesday in a retirement center near Miami. “It has prevented seniors in Florida and citizens across the country from getting the help they need. “
The essential Texas for Trump
Another determining electorate for the two camps in Florida, the Latin Americans. A broad and composite name, referring both to families of Cuban origin marked by anti-Castroism and voting rather Republican and those with ties to Puerto Rico, who view Trump in a more negative light. “It must be remembered that Trump imagined selling Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017 when the Democrats want to make it the 51st State of the Union,” recalls Jean-Eric Branaa.
Southwest of Mississippi, Arizona and Texas, the Democratic push can be explained in part by the growing weight of the Hispanic population. Whether they come from Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, few are ready to vote for Trump, a president who has made the construction of a border wall one of his priorities once installed at Home- White.
To this demographic phenomenon is juxtaposed another in Texas: the extension of residential suburbs more inclined to be tinged with democratic blue. “Joe Biden is not mistaken in sending this week his wife Jill to seduce the female electorate of these suburbs”, analyzes Marie-Cécile Naves.
What allow the Democrats to switch this year the “Lone Star State” offered for 40 years to the Republican candidate? It will be difficult given the recent rise of Donald Trump in recent days. For the president, it is anyway a question of political survival. After California, Texas is the second most important state, with 38 voters, and a success of Biden would certainly deal a fatal blow to the chances of re-election of Trump.