Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America.
- What does it mean for the USA and the rest of the world?
- Why does the vote count take so long?
- Whan can happen if the current president, Donald Trump, does not concede and which effect does it have on the already polarized electorate?
- And which role does the media play?
The elections' results
Firstly, Dominika and Mark took a look at the results of the presidential elections. The map of electoral support according to electoral college division might be misleading, as it only communicates the geographical aspect, but not the density of population translated into electors. When we look closer with additional information, we could see that Montana which is geographically huge, only counts for 3 electors, as it is less populated than New Jersey, which is much more dense in the sense of population, but significantly smaller from the geographical perspective. A very nice depiction of the US Presidential elections is the hexamap, where one hexagon stands for one elector. This way we can see an approximate geographical locations, but also the population translated into electors. Dominika and Mark showed the election results in detail and discussed them.
Why did it take so long?
Dominika stated that the first reason is that this year there were many more mail-in ballots as usual. If you are interested in mail-in ballots, you can take a look at our previous webinar where it is explained in more detail. Moreover, in some states, these mail-in ballots can only be processed after the date of the elections, such as in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Another factor is that approximately half of the states accept postal ballots that arrive after the election day, but must have a postmark until November 3.
What is more, there also exist provisional ballots. These ballots ensure that voters are not excluded from the voting process due to an administrative error. These ballots are used when there is an uncertainty about the voter’s eligibility, but they can still cast the vote. These ballots look different and are kept separately and these ballots are to be inspected, counted and the voter eligibility is to be determined after the election day. As these elections had the highest turnout since the 20th century, the number of these ballots also increased, which is slowing down the process.
Communication and its impact
As we have already discussed in the previous webinar, Donald Trump refused to sign off a 25 billion dollar bill in emergency funding for the Postal service or 3.5 billion dollars for the election security. This, as expected, resulted in logistic issues and delays. As we could have seen, President Trump has fed these allegations of fraud months before the elections. Dominika showed tweets from summer where he claimed that mail-in ballots lead to fraud.
When we look at the poll below made by the Pew Research Center in October, we can clearly see the division between Trump and Biden voters. Surveyed people were registered voters who declared that they will vote for Trump or leaned towards voting for Trump or vote for Biden or leaned towards voting for Biden. On the left we can see the percentage of asked respondents who say how confident they are that the in-person ballots submitted at the polling places will be counted as voters intended. The results are quite similar – both Trump and Biden voters in the sample were very confident that these ballots would be counted as voters intended with a slight difference between the groups. Although, when it comes to absentee or mail-in ballots, we can see the huge difference – only 9 % of asked Trump voters were very confident that their ballots will be counted as intended opposed to 30 % of asked Biden supporters. When it comes to those who do not believe at all that the ballots will be counted properly, 26 % of asked Trump voters said so compared to only 5% of Biden supporters. To conclude, this poll illustrates the polarization in American society present even in the view of a basic democratic pillar of the voting system, such as absentee or mail-in ballots that are in use since 1864.
Afterwards Dominika and Mark discussed Donald Trump’s communication during the elections. Dominika showed the infamous tweet “Stop the count!” which was a subject to thousands of Internet memes produced around the world. Other tweets showed that the President Trump was also constantly claiming that his poll watchers or vote observers were not allowed to do their job, which was even disputed in the Fox News, the most watched cable news network, which was often favourable to Trump administration.
As a result we could have seen different rallies and protests organized by Trump supporters. Some protested for continuing the count, in states where Donald Trump was losing, and some rallied for stopping the count, which occurred in states were Trump was winning. The deadline for resolving the election disputes at the state level is December 8. Until then, all the allegations need to be finalized in court and investigated.
The next poll Dominika showed can be seen below and it investigated which topics are of most importance to Biden and Trump voters. This survey was also done by the Pew Research Center in October. What we can see is that 48 % of surveyed Trump voters (or those who indicated that they had leaned towards voting for Trump) stated that the abortion is a very important topic for them. When asked about the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak, only 24 % of them indicated that this is a very important issue.
All of the above mentioned information and polls demonstrate the polarization present in the American society.
In the Questions and Answers session, Dominika and Mark were joined by Prof. Peter Cochrane, a university professor and an internationally sought-after guru, who spoke about fake news in the media and how to counter them.
Interested in receiving our Automated Quantitative Report on the media coverage of the 2020 US Presidential Elections?
In order to receive the US Elections Report with the latest data on the topic, please fill in the form below. You will be equipped with the current insights on the media coverage of the 2020 US Presidential Elections by getting the report everyday in your email box!