Rayhan Ahmed Topader:
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted hundreds of elections scheduled in 2020. While more than sixty countries postponed voting, dozens of others, including Burundi, France, and South Korea, went forward with their elections.These countries took various steps to reduce the risk of voters and election officials contracting the new coronavirus disease, Covid-19. But planning elections, which usually require extensive person-to-person contact, during a historic health crisis is challenging. Officials worldwide have struggled with securing enough funding to implement safety precautions, expanding mail-in voting, and communicating changes with the public, among other obstacles. Some countries suffered low voter turnout, causing citizens to question the elections’ legitimacy, while others saw high turnout and few coronavirus cases linked to voting. The United States is facing similar challenges as it prepares to hold its presidential election on November 3. Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump in the national polls for the presidential election. But that doesn’t guarantee the Democratic candidate victory. Hillary Clinton also had a clear lead over Trump in the polls for almost the entire 2016 campaign. She ended up losing in the electoral college. Because the presidential voting system assigns each state a number of electoral college votes, which go to the state’s victor regardless of the margin of victory.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump will go head to head for the White House on 3 November, with polls showing Biden’s lead widening Democratic challenger Joe Biden is currently leading Donald Trump in the national polls as the US approaches its next presidential election. Currently, the 10-poll average indicates that just over half of Americans intend to back Joe Biden while Mr Trump’s support trails this by around five or six points. Americans will vote on 3 November 2020 in order to elect their next President, either giving Mr Trump another four years or handing over the keys to the White House to Mr Biden. However, on 2 October 2020 the President was taken to hospital with Covid-19. Though the President now appears to have recovered, it is unclear what effect, if any, this will have on the presidential race. Mr Trump’s age, gender and weight put him into a relatively high-risk category for the virus’s worst effects. His recuperation will hamper his ability to hold the mass rallies that fire up by his most loyal supporters. On the other hand, the first world leader to test positive for Covid-19, Boris Johnson, saw a remarkable increase in his personal approval rating during his illness. YouGov polling just after he left hospital saw his net approval as Prime Minister go from 4 per cent to 40 per cent, as the British public sympathised with his plight.
Mr Trump triumphed in 2016 despite losing the popular vote, so it is still far too early to say who will win the White House later this year. With just three weeks until the US presidential election, Democratic candidate Joe Biden seems to have cornered at least one constituency: celebrities. In recent days, many of the country’s most famous voters have lined up to support Mr Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris. Taylor Swift, Madonna, Cardi B, Tom Hanks and George Clooney have all thrown their support behind the Democratic ticket. In an editorial for V magazine, Taylor Swift urged fans to vote for Mr Biden and Ms Harris, and promptly shared the endorsement with her 140 million Instagram followers.And Dwayne Johnson a self-described independent and now the most-followed American man on Instagram made his first ever endorsement, saying in a video that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best choice to lead our country.This summer’s Democratic National Convention, too, featured a parade of Oscar winners, musicians and professional athletes an apparent contrast to the Republican convention the following week. There, the president himself was the biggest celebrity in attendance. Trump certainly has his celebrities, quote-unquote, said Cooper Lawrence, journalist and author of Celebritocracy: the Misguided Agenda of Celebrity Politics in a Postmodern Democracy
But in terms of who real celebrities are, that people know really well and like, Joe Biden is definitely winning in that way. Celebrities playing a role in American politics isn’t new, Ms Lawrence said. And this year’s Democratic tilt isn’t either. Celebrity Republicans tend to run for office, she said, pointing to President Ronald Reagan, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Trump. Celebrity Democrats, instead, tend to stump for candidates.Studies of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary credit Oprah Winfrey’s early and enthusiastic endorsement of then-candidate Barack Obama with roughly1 million additional votes for Mr Obama.The Oprah Effect,researchers said,was responsible for the difference in popular vote between Mr Obama and his Democratic opponent, Mrs Clinton. But this sort of celebrity bump has, so far, not been recorded in a general election. What they can do, Ms Lawrence said, is motivate followers to get out to vote an effect we’ve already seen this year. Last week, pop star Ariana Grande urged her 280 million followers on Twitter and Instagram to register to vote in her home state of Florida before the deadline later that day. Fellow Floridians, we need you. But while celebrities may convince their fans to get to the ballot box, research shows that they have not yet convinced them who to vote for when they get there,
Take the last presidential election, for example. Then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton just like Mr Biden now – easily outpaced Mr Trump in terms of Hollywood popularity. Her fundraisers featured Justin Timberlake, George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston, and she claimed endorsements from Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson. But while she claimed a multi-million ballot lead in the popular vote, Mrs Clinton’s edge with celebrities did not land her the presidency. In the final days of her 2016 campaign, she appeared with a laundry list of A-listers Katy Perry, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez at concerts across the country, seemingly aimed at young and diverse voters. But Mrs Clinton was still unable to hold on to the African American voters who had turned up for President Obama. In 2016, approximately 11% of the black voters who voted Democrat in 2008 stayed home. What’s more, opting for a concert series, as opposed to time on the ground with voters, may have played into perceptions of Mrs Clinton as an out-of-touch elite. Likewise, in the 2018 midterms. Taylor Swift broke her career-long political silence and endorsed two Democrats in Tennessee, including Phil Bredesen for Senate. Celebrities, more than ever before, tell us about their kids or their lives or their break-ups, making us feel as though we know them, and can trust them.
So if Kim Kardashian says vote for Biden, a fan could be swayed, especially if they’re unfamiliar with politics. Is who they’re speaking to. Young people those most likely to follow popstars on social media have historically low voter turnout compared to other age groups.But when they do vote,they tend to vote Democrat. Between Millennials and Generation Z-those who will be between 24 and 39 years old on election day just three in ten say they approve of President Trump’s job in office, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center. And political support across this age group is also the most likely up for grabs. About 40 years of research finds that the age of 30 is when your political opinions really crystalise, Ms Lawrence said. So how did they get there? They have to be shaped by something.And if you are a devoted fan, a celebrity endorsement might be it.In just three weeks, Americans head to the polls to cast their vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden.With the pandemic raging through the country and the situation becoming increasingly worse, the question is how to reach out to voters? Unlike Trump, Biden cannot be reckless and organise large gatherings; it will undercut his campaign message that the voters are still unsafe.
Writer and Columnist