October, 2019. The United States is now just over a year away from the 2020 presidential election, and the news hasn’t stopped battering and overloading the country. As we enter November, here is a breakdown of two major issues, along with candidates, and the developing tensions as the 2020 election draws ever closer.
One of the best ways for the American people to see their candidates clarify their goals and answer questions under pressure is by tuning into one of the number of debates being held in the lead-up to the election. With President Donald Trump holding a reported 74% approval rating among Republican voters, the RNC has not planned any debates between Trump and his few opponents after the RNC agreed to unanimously support the president for the nomination back in the spring. With the Democrats it is the complete opposite. There are seventeen candidates still running as of November 1st, and the DNC has been carrying out debates every month to put the potential nominees in the hot seat, and to battle it out over policy and goals with other potential nominees. Most recently on October 15th, the DNC held its 4th debate out of the twelve planned. The debate, which took place at Otterbein University in Ohio, saw top candidates like Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg take center stage, while hopefuls such as Tom Steyer, Tulsi Gabbard, and Julian Castro fought to gain support and stay in the race. In the middle ground were candidates Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, and Beto O’Rourke (dropped out Nov 1st), who all, similarly to the tailing candidates, fought to gain ground against the several leading candidates.
While criticism ensued about having too many candidates in too short of a time frame, nonetheless the debate went on as planned, and the twelve Democrats on the stage fought hard to gain support and to stand out among their counterparts. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both primarily clashed over government provided medicare and how to fund it, along with how to ease student loan debt, while Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and Julian Castro focused heavily on gun control. However, an important issue came up with the US foreign policy and involvement in the Middle East, after just under a week before Turkish forces launched an invasion into Kurdish territory in Syria. While President Trump displayed his policy for the globe to see by withdrawing troops from Syria to avoid fighting, Democrat candidates widely agreed that US troops should have been kept in the region to support our now former Kurdish allies. As eleven of the candidates supported keeping troops in, one notable outlier was Hawaii Rep. and veteran Tulsi Gabbard. With her opposing involvement and supporting a withdrawal she gained harsh criticism from her opponents, and even garnered allegations that she might be a “Russian asset” by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Nonetheless, while all of the candidates can agree that they are aiming to defeating Trump in the election, there seems to be little unity so far between the candidates and their potential voters.
As the impeachment inquiry heats up against Donald Trump, more and more details continue to be released day by day. The inquiry, which was launched after allegations that President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine, has resulted in the release of dozens of formerly confidential documents and led to a number of subpoenas against US officials who worked with Trump or who had access to any of the information before its release. While Trump voluntarily released the rough transcript of a call between himself and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on September 25th, an anonymous whistle blower relayed information alleging that Trump tried to convince Ukraine to investigate Democrat rival and candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his ties to a Ukrainian gas firm. This along with allegations that Trump threatened to withhold aid if Ukraine didn’t comply demonstrated what is known as a “quid pro quo,” in which a favor is exchanged for a favor, and in this case, the investigation of a political opponent in exchange for foreign aid. As a result, Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began to request testimonials from officials who had knowledge of any possible “quid pro quo,” and began to call for an official impeachment inquiry, which was voted by the House along partisan lines, with the vote going 232-196 to launch an inquiry.
While questions surrounding whether Trump could face impeachment carry on, another important question has emerged, that being how this inquiry could affect his 2020 campaign. So far, with the allegations of a quid pro quo, support for the president has dropped among independents and even some Republican moderates. However, his base has been reinforced with Trump claiming the impeachment inquiry is a “witch hunt,” along with him targeting congress members who are leading impeachment efforts. The notable example of this has been Trump now routinely giving a nickname to California Rep. Adam Schiff (who is the chairman of the Intelligence Committee), calling him “shifty Schiff” in Tweets and during rallies. Remarks like this have helped to rile up his supporters and strengthen his base which will be the biggest factor in Trump’s reelection bid. On the other end, Democratic candidates have used the impeachment as a regular attack against the president, regularly calling him a “traitor” to the country, and trying to draw voters to them rather than their counterparts. Even amidst the debates where the candidates have battled it out, all have agreed that impeaching and defeating Trump in 2020 is priority. Most observably among the Democrats, Senator Kamala Harris has interjected during policy arguments and has tried to emphasize the importance of unifying as a party to defeat Trump during debates. However, as the inquiry is only just beginning, and the election still over a year away, anything can happen in the meantime that could completely derail the efforts of either party, and result in a new face for the country or a second term for Donald Trump.
The best metric to observe how the country feels about each candidate is to simply look at polls conducted by organizations across the country. From showing splits within parties, to hypothetical match-ups in the general election, polls only give an early taste of what could happen come party primaries and the general election itself in 2020.
Emerson Polling chart of Democrat candidates popularity in Iowa, taken between October 13th and 16th.
Emerson Polling chart of Democrat candidates popularity nationally, taken between October 18th and 21st.
All credit goes to Emerson College and Emerson Polling for the shown polls above.
Democrat candidates and their policies:
USA Today reporting on a Washington Post/ABC Poll:
DNC = Democratic National Convention
RNC = Republican National Convention
Primary = Elections held in each state to vote on candidates for each party held in the lead up to the general election
General Election = Election held every four years to vote on the presidency, which also coincides with the House election every two years, and senate elections in which 1/3 of the senate seats are voted on every two years (senators serve six year terms)
Polls = Sample opinions from a certain number of questioned people on certain issues (whether on who they support as president to what policy they agree with)
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read through this. While not as comprehensive as individual articles covering each issue individually, I’m hoping to make this into a monthly article covering the main points of interest leading into the 2020 election and party primaries. In addition, the formatting will likely change as the creation of the election update articles continues, as there are definitely better ways to order stuff than how it is in the article above. Again, I hope you enjoyed this and make sure to keep yourself updated in this constantly changing political environment.