As Election Day dawns in the United States, both Presidential campaigns have embraced a frenzied last push in key battleground states that will tip this election in either camp’s favour.
In a frenzied dash to the finish line, President Donald Trump will host five rallies in four swing states today including Michigan and Wisconsin while his opponent Joe Biden will hold two rallies in the must-win state of Pennsylvania.
Record early voter turnout shows more than 91 million people have already cast their ballots, accounting for about 67% of all votes counted in 2016; amidst rising tensions across the country and a pending result that will be difficult for one side to embrace, let alone accept.
The polls are clear – Joe Biden has a large national lead averaging at 9 points while key states like Florida, Texas and Arizona show the nominees neck and neck as they make a final push to drive their supporters to the polls ahead of Tuesday’s final day of voting.
Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee, “Over 90 million people have already voted. Already voted. They’ve had enough. They’ve had enough. There’s too much on the line to sit it out. We only have two more days, two more days, we can put an end to this presidency, that has from the very beginning, sought to divide us, to tear us apart. Folks, in two days, we could put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation. In two days, we could put an end to a presidency that fanned the flames of hate, poured gasoline on every opportunity he had all across this nation.”
US correspondent Sherwin Bryce-Pease on the final day of campaigning:
As COVID-19 cases spiral the President continues to downplay its impact, erroneously saying the country is turning the corner on the pandemic while floating the idea of firing the country’s top public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci who has warned that the country is going in the wrong direction.
“We’re going to have a safe vaccine that ends the pandemic. Without it, it’s rounding… I say it, drives them crazy, it’s rounding the turn. Because all they want to do, you turn in the news, COVID, COVID, COVID. We like to talk about COVID and then next, here’s what happens. November 4th, you won’t hear too much about it. You won’t hear too much about it. (CROWD CHANTS: “FIRE FAUCI”). Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait till a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice. I appreciate the advice.”
With tensions at an all-time high, scenes of Trump supporters encircling a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas, leading to a collision with a support vehicle or blocking traffic on major highways in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, or boarded up storefronts in major cities – growing fears that a worst-case scenario is not without merit.
Jennifer Brandel of consulting company Hearken has warned newsrooms to prepare for the election to go off the rails.
“There are powder kegs everywhere and matches being flicked in every direction, there are misinformation and disinformation which has been with us for a long time, but will be highly leveraged by bad actors in the coming weeks. There’s also the factor that mail-in-ballots, every state is different in terms of counting them so we’re not going to know the results, likely for the Presidential and other races, key races for a while to come. When there’s that ambiguity and we’ve been ratcheting up these tensions for so long it allows either side to claim victory or to start to incentivize their supporters and to go out to protest.”
And with record turnout to date and a surge in the use of mail-in-ballots, concerns that a winner might come later than election night.
“And I think it’s terrible when we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election in a modern-day age of the computer. I think it’s a terrible thing and I happen to think it was a terrible decision for our country.”
“My response is that the President is not going to steal this election.”
So after months of campaigning in what feels more like an eternity, we stand on the precipice of a historic few days in the United States. Both nominees representing two visions of a country that could not be more dissimilar; a victory for either candidate would mean devastation for the losing side. And with doubts being cast around the credibility of these polls – from one side and without evidence – the collapsing levels of truth, where fact is treated as fiction – the stakes are high and America’s anxiety has reached a premium.