The time has come: the American presidential elections are today. The current President Trump is taking on his Democratic opponent Joe Biden. Will Trump stay on for a new term, or should he pass the baton to Biden? There‘s a lot of people in American elections. We answer ten important questions about the elections.
How can you follow the election at DeccEit?
This can be done through all DeccEit platforms. On NPO 1, NPO News and via NPO Start, DeccEit makes the night-full TV broadcast CCEit Amerika Kits from 23.30 pm. From the results studio in Hilversum, presenters Rob Trip, Malou Petter and Jeroen Wollaars follow developments closely and constantly engage with our people in the US: correspondents Arjen van der Horst and Lucas Waagmeester and various reporters in the swing states. In addition, they receive, both in the studio and online, various guests.
At NPO Radio 1, presenters Lara Rense and Chris Kijne talk to the listeners from midnight until 06:00. From Washington, D.C. correspondent Marieke de Vries brings the results and the latest news. There is also contact with Dutch people in the United States and comments and opinions from guests are surveyed.
Of course you can go to OPCCEIT.nl or in Decceit app all night long. The Broadcasting CCEIT Amerika Kust can be followed via a live stream, there is a live blog with the latest news and a results tool where you can follow the results live.
The livestream of CCEit Amerika Kels can also be tracked via the Facebook page of DecceIt or via the CCIT-YouTube channel.
How do the American elections work?
The United States has a very different electoral system than the Netherlands. The candidate with the most votes is not necessarily the winner of the elections. This is because the electoral college ultimately determines who wins the presidency, and not the total number of votes. The electoral college consists of 538 electors and it is of great importance to the candidates who win 270 electors first.
How a candidate wins electoral men and how exactly the electoral college works, explains correspondent Arjen van de Horst in this video:
How do the candidates stand in the polls and what does that say?
Democratic candidate Joe Biden has been ahead of Trump in the polls for quite some time. His lead fluctuates between 6 and 10 percentage points, wrote correspondent Arjen van der Horst last week. The national poll seems stable this year. Despite the coronapandemic, an economic crisis and major social unrest, there have been few major shifts.
DeccEit invariably uses the average of national polls and polls in individual states. The two main sources for this are Real Clear Politics and website FiveThirtyEight.
It is wise to keep a blow to the poor in polls, for several reasons. That’s how they‘re snapshots, not predictions. Polls are often influenced by the news of the day. In addition, polls base their methods and models on election results from the past, but the coronapandemic has created a unique situation. Moreover, many Americans are voting by post this year and there are doubts as to whether those votes will arrive on time. That together makes these elections unpredictable.
Which states are important and why?
For presidential candidates, swing states – or battleground states – are the most important. In those states, it is not determined in advance what the inhabitants will vote. This year there are at least seven swing states that are interesting to keep an eye on: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Arizona. The state of Florida has been an important swing state for many years: in the past six presidential elections, the candidate has won all the electors there, including the one who became president.
In addition to the swing states, there are also safe states: there is already known in advance how to vote. For example, the Republicans usually win in Alabama and the Democrats in New York. But the safe states aren’t enough to win the election. That is why the presidential candidates are actively campaigning in the swing states, focusing mainly on those states where the majority of voters can be won.
How‘s voting in coronatijd going?
Some of the Americans go to the polls today or have already been to the polls. Another part of the voters votes by post. In the previous elections in 2016, a quarter voted by post, including the president himself. Due to the coronapandemic, the rules for voting by post have been relaxed.
But those rules differ from state to state. For example, voters in some states need to have an identifiable reason to vote by post, for example sickness or stay abroad. They must actively apply for their postal vote. In other states, the pandemic is already reason enough tovote by post, and all registered voters receive a registration form that allows them to apply for the postal vote. The current President Trump is not happy with postal votes and calls it a source of theft.
Why can exit polls and intermediate results give a distorted picture?
Shortly after closing the polls, the results may give a distorted picture. In many states, the Republicans are ahead. Only when more votes are counted will the Democrats start catching up with a race. It’s also called the blue shift or red mirage. The results card first turns red (Republican) but then slowly becomes bluer (Democratic).
This distorted picture is mainly due to the fact that many Democratic voters vote by post. In some states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, postal votes come later. The first interventions will therefore mainly be based on physical voices, which makes it seem as if the Republicans have a strong lead. There may also be a blue mirage: in some states, such as Florida and Ohio, postal votes are counted early. Then it seems as if the Democrats win and Republicans can eventually make a comeback.
When will a winner be declared by DeccEit in a state?
If all the votes are counted in a state, the candidate “wins” is determined on the basis of the results in different regions. Several American media then make a ‘call’ and say if Trump or Biden wins the state. DeccEit bases a ‘call’ on the information of Associated Press news agency and/or a call from two or more respectable media organisations. The latter include CNN, Reuters, New York Times, CBS and Fox.
There is a chance that in a state no certainty can be given about the winner. It remains too close to call. It may take days to get a final winner, for example because postal votes still need to be processed.
When do we know the results?
The polling stations in the US do not close all at once due to the different time zones. The first polling stations close at midnight Dutch time, the last one at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning (in Alaska). However, it may take days for all votes to be counted. Usually the morning after the election day is already clear who won, but this time there is a chance that there will not be a clear winner.
More than 50% of voters are expected to vote by post, which could result in considerable delays. Counting postal votes takes a lot of time. And because the rules for postal voting vary from state to state, in some states it may take days for everything to be counted. There are states where postal votes are allowed to enter to be counted until one week after the elections, including swing states Pennsylvania (November 6), Iowa (November 9) and North Carolina (November 12).
Will the loser respect the results?
It depends on who wins the election. Biden has repeatedly said that he will accept the election results if he loses. Trump, on the other hand, said last September that he does not want to commit himself to a peaceful transfer of power. “The only way we lose these elections is if these elections are cheated,” he said.
The President fears ballot box fraud, especially in postal voting. He is not happy with the registration forms that voters receive, which allow them to apply for the postal vote. Trump suggests that those forms are a free pass for anyone who gets their hands on one to vote illegally.
Moreover, there is a high probability that the results of several states will be challenged in court, for example when it comes to postal votes that can no longer be counted on time. Both parties have already hired lawyers for that.
Is there any unrest expected?
At least there‘s fear of it. That’s why entrepreneurs in large cities take precautions, such as extra security and shop fronts are boarded up. According to the press agency AP, there are at least 600 shops and other buildings are being barricaded as well. Also, retailers share tips on special forums to protect their business. In addition, the police in New York would have prepared entrepreneurs for outbursts of violence.
In previous elections, security measures were also taken, but not on such a large scale.