2020 Election: Presidential Pre-Election Analysis
It's that time again... Election Season! In the aftermath of this election, all the pundits will take turns trying to frame the results and what they say about the American political landscape. I'll step out on a limb here and offer a prelude to their analysis with a few exceptions:
This is only for the presidential election and does not apply to down-ballot races.
This is before the votes are tallied. In fact, I am writing this before election day.
This has to do more with the candidates than the results.
So here are my thoughts on what this election’s presidential candidates have to say about the political landscape.
Pollsters use a technique where they poll a specific person against a non-specified member of a party. Example: “If the election was held today, would you vote for Donald Trump or a Democratic candidate?” Much like an attractive classmate or coworker who was “perfect” until you got to know him or her and learned about his or her negative traits, these imaginary candidates are “perfect” because they have no personal negatives. No affairs, no gaffes, no scandals. They perfectly embody the party’s platform, or at least the parts of the platform that the respondent chooses to project onto them. Thus, this “generic candidate” usually polls higher.
Enter Joe Biden, who is being cast as the generic Democrat. In the aftermath of the Democrats loss to “anybody but Hillary” in 2016, they are trying to employ the Republican's strategy by marketing a generic candidate as “at least he’s not Trump.” And they intend to accomplish this by keeping Biden as generic as possible. The more they can minimize his negatives and keep him sticking to generic party talking points, the more voters can project their preferred policy positions onto him and increase his electability. In essence, they want people to vote for the platform over the person.
On the Republican side, Trump’s negatives are well-known. He’s not the most likeable guy in the room, but he has accomplished a lot of what Republicans have demanded for decades. On the Republican side, a vote for Trump is likely a vote for the platform over the person.
And that’s the framework of the 2020 presidential race--platform vs platform. This is a dangerous gamble for the Democrats because the average American does not support their platform. They rely on a political cocktail of messaging, personal attacks, and winning key demographics to make up for the unpopularity of their platform. The question is, will it be enough? Time will tell.