November 3, the United States holds presidential elections. Incumbent Republican President Donald Trump, who is aiming for a second term, and former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden are fighting for a seat in the Oval Office. The candidate who wins in most states will be the next president of the United States. Certain circumstances might affect the results of American elections. A feature of these elections is that they are taking place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, social and political instability and unrest, and the socio-economic crisis in the United States. In connection with the coronavirus, over 80 million voters voted early. Ukraine is closely following the US presidential elections, as their outcome may affect Ukrainian-American relations.
Only old men go to battle
77-year-old Joe Biden has more than 30 years of civil service experience, and during this time he was elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate, and served as vice president in the administration of President Barack Obama. The Democrat candidate has a reputation as an expert in foreign policy and taught international diplomacy at the University of Pennsylvania from 2017-2019.
Biden's early attempts to become the main Democratic candidate for president were unsuccessful. During the 1988 election campaign, Biden had to give in to another Democrat – Michael Dukakis – because of the scandal surrounding the plagiarism of the campaign of a British politician from the Labor Party, Neil Kinnock. In the 2012 elections, he lost to Barack Obama, who was aiming for a second term and defeated Republican Mitt Romney.
Biden's third attempt looks more successful. A few days before the election, according to the national RCP rating, he was ahead of Trump in popularity by 7.1%, and also led in 10 states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, which Trump won in 2016.
Another candidate, Trump isn't young either, turning 74 this year. His first presidential term was his political debut. The strongest positions are held by Republicans in 12 states. Trump is slightly ahead of Biden in Texas, Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina. Since 1976, Texas has consistently won the Republicans, but this year it has ended up on the list of "swing" states where there is no clear favorite.
In the history of the United States, there have been cases when election results almost coincided with the population's assessment of the results of the president's work. In 1984, 58% of Americans were satisfied with the work of Ronald Reagan. In the 1984 presidential election, he was re-elected for a second term with 58.8% of the vote. In 1992, the activities of George W. Bush were positively assessed by 36% of citizens. In the same year, he lost to Democrat Bill Clinton in the elections with a result of 37.4% of the vote. The activities of President Trump, according to opinion polls, are positively assessed by 45% of Americans, and 52% of respondents sympathize with Biden.
Force majeure has influenced the pre-election situation.
Most of the complaints from the Americans were caused by Trump's policy in the field of combating the coronavirus pandemic. The United States is in first place in the world in terms of the number of infected (9.5 million people). 231,000 Americans died from the coronavirus (much more than the military losses in the armed conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq). Trump's team provided financial assistance, tax holidays, and affordable loans to businesses, contributed to an increase in the production of ventilators and funded the development of a coronavirus vaccine, which they promised to create by the end of the year. The American authorities have done much more for their citizens during the quarantine than the government of any other country.
Biden criticizes Trump for repealing the Affordable Medicine Act (Obamacare), which mandates expensive full-service insurance, abolishing fines for those who are not insured, and proposed cutting Medicaid funding for low-income Americans. Coronavirus provokes an exacerbation of chronic diseases, and the availability of health insurance, in this case, does not hurt.
Trump did not offer an alternative to Obamacare, and people with incurable chronic diseases have lost the opportunity to receive expensive drugs at the expense of the insurer. About 58% of elderly voters with health problems are ready to vote for Biden. Trump's ratings were negatively affected by the fact that he held mass rallies under quarantine conditions, creating once again the conditions for the spread of the coronavirus, which he himself had been ill with.
A serious blow to the presidential ratings was dealt with by the accidental killing of African American George Floyd by white police in the city of Minneapolis at the end of May this year. After all, most of the American police vote for the Republican Party. The incident provoked massive anti-government protests, pogroms of private property, government agencies, clashes with law enforcement officers throughout the country. Radicals of all stripes took to the streets of American cities, including those armed with small arms.
Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement for the protection of the rights of blacks staged rallies not only in the United States but also in other countries of the world. The tightening of the migration regime and the intensification of the fight against illegal migration by the Trump administration have created a pretext for accusing the president of xenophobia and racial discrimination. Biden urged African Americans and other racial and ethnic groups to vote for him. The former vice president is supported by 87% of African Americans, 70% of Jews, 67% of Hispanics, 45% of whites, mostly people with higher education and scientific degrees, involved in information technology, liberals, atheists, LGBT people from metropolitan areas, born in 1981 - early 2000s.
Biden made a tactical move and invited a descendant of migrants, Senator of Indian-Haitian descent Kamala Harris, who, along with Congressman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, represents the interests of the ultra-left wing of the Democratic Party (Democratic Socialists) and advocates the introduction of minimum salaries, marijuana legalization, climate protection, and is actively involved in the Black lives matter movement. Rallies in support of Biden are being held by ex-President Barack Obama. Democrats do not remember that in the 60s Biden opposed the abolition of segregation, wanted to prevent whites and blacks from studying in the same class and not traveling together in public transport.
Some Republicans have turned their backs on Trump and consider him a president who is unable to unite the people. Members of the Republican party from 34 former congressmen and senators, 107 ex-state attorneys, 73 former national security officials, several ex-governors, incumbent Senator of the Nebraska Legislature John McCollister, and Congressman Francis Rooney are going to vote for Biden.
Yet Trump is still supported by a majority of white voters (51%), especially Protestant evangelicals, who are one of the largest denominations in the United States, residents of medium and small cities, representatives of working professions. Enough white Americans are shocked by the riots in the streets. Nevertheless, in the 2016 elections, the incumbent was supported by 6% more whites than now.
The economy must be economical
Biden promises to his voters to introduce a minimum wage of $ 15 per hour, create 10 million jobs, return to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate protection (eliminating carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere until 2050), open borders to migrants and refugees, cooperate with the World Health Organization in the development of a vaccine against coronavirus, restore Obamacare with certain improvements. According to unofficial information, the democrat is ready to use part of the military budget to fight the coronavirus.
During a rally in Pennsylvania, Trump said that Biden's presidency would entail tax increases. The main achievement of Trump, which was rated positively by 55% of Americans, is economic policy. In the first three years of his presidency, 6.6 million new jobs were created, and annual GDP growth exceeded 2%. The United States has increased the production and export of oil and natural gas. Trump has implemented tax liberalization for businesses. From March to July, due to the quarantine of enterprises, US GDP decreased by 32.9%. 30.2 million Americans were left without work. The president acknowledged that the economy was doing well before the coronavirus pandemic.
Consequences for Ukraine
Trump and Biden have already managed to get to know Ukraine from a rather unpleasant side. When Biden was the US Vice President, he was in contact with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and President Petro Poroshenko. In his memoirs, the politician stressed that both statesmen put political ambitions and inter-party competition above the interests of the state and became disillusioned with the ability of the Ukrainian government to carry out reforms and achieve success in the fight against corruption. Poroshenko managed to put a pig on Trump during the 2016 election year by publicly supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Later, Ukraine turned into a field of the information war between the Republican and Democratic parties. Trump used Ukraine to search for incriminating evidence on Hunter Biden, the son of his current rival. Last year, Trump invited President Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House and announced his intention to investigate Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine, suspected of corruption while working for the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma. During 2019-2020, Ukraine did not disappear from the American information space.
It is unlikely that Trump and Biden will qualitatively change their approaches to the Ukrainian issue. Biden, like Obama, advocates multilateral cooperation, is going to solve international problems together with other countries and organizations. Therefore, one should not expect harsh and decisive measures from a democrat to force Russia to peace with Ukraine. He will continue the policy of anti-Russian sanctions in conjunction with the EU. Obama and Biden refrained from providing lethal weapons to Ukraine. Biden has a bitter experience of the "reset policy" of relations with the Russian Federation and was personally convinced that it would not be possible to persuade the Kremlin to make concessions even if there was no pressure.
Unilateral action is Trump's part. After 2016, the United States imposed new sanctions against Russia and provided Ukraine with anti-tank systems, which the Ukrainian army needed at the height of hostilities in Donbas in 2014. This year, the United States decided to supply military boats to Ukraine. Under Trump, Americans did not look back at their European allies but acted as they saw fit. This concerns the resumption of the policy of sanctions against Iran, the introduction of high duties on products from China, sanctions against companies involved in the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Regardless of who wins the election - Trump or Biden, the normalization of US-Russian relations is hardly possible. The most they can agree on with the Russian authorities is the extension of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3), which expires in February 2021. Trump is interested in involving China in its implementation, while Biden is interested in extending it for five years.
Ukrainian issue is not a priority
If Trump retains the presidency, he will focus on the implementation of the peace treaty with the Taliban movement, the withdrawal of the American military from Afghanistan, resume trade negotiations with China, will demand compensation from the Celestial Empire for the coronavirus leak, and will also continue to mediate in Israel's negotiations with Arab countries on the normalization of relations, hinder the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, put pressure on Iran, negotiate with the DPRK on renouncing nuclear weapons.
If Biden comes to power, he will first of all work on Trump's mistakes: he will improve relations with the EU and NATO, return to the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, the Paris agreement on climate protection. Biden is going to work with allies to collectively pressure China, whose authorities are violating human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, but to cooperate with the Chinese in the search for a vaccine against the coronavirus. The politician plans to participate in the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, he can tighten the pressure on the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus under the pretext of protecting human rights.
Ukrainian politicians should not look for favorites among the candidates for the presidency of the United States, expect any preferences from them or something extraordinary. We need to achieve efficiency in the fight against corruption, nepotism, stop appointing amateurs to high-ranking posts, and make progress in implementing reforms, which has not been done in the past six years. This is the only way Ukraine can interest the United States in closer cooperation.