POSTSCRIPT / November 1, 2020 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Trump-Biden race is too close to call

NEW YORK — In two days, we should know if Donald Trump will be replaced by Joe Biden in the White House, if the Republicans will lose their tenuous majority in the Senate, if Obamacare will stay, if the President’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic will be revamped, et cetera.

And Manila will know if President Duterte would still be visiting Trump or should start adjusting to his Democratic successor, in the same way that some four million Filipino Americans here will soon see if their star-spangled life will run on as is.

The vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3, must be decisive and leave no issue getting in the way of the winner. Defeated candidates here usually concede quickly, but some Pinoy watchers worry that a sore loser might throw a tantrum or his armed partisans spill in the streets.

Due to a mail-voting surge amid the Covid-19 rampage — as well as the states’ varying rules on when to count the ballots — the results may not be known on Election Day itself, except if one candidate concedes in the face of a clear defeat.

The past several days, the Republicans have whittled down the early lead built up by Biden, making the tight race hard to call down the wire, more so because Trump enjoys the advantage of being the incumbent.

Filipino Americans, whether US citizens or permanent residents (green card holders), number 4,089,570, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for 2018. They are the third-largest Asian group, after those of Indian and Chinese ancestry.

The 10 states with the largest population of Filipinos and FilAms are California, 1,653,167; Hawaii,  367,952; Texas, 204,192; Nevada, 168,200; Washington, 162,658; Florida, 158,254; Illinois, 156,121; New Jersey, 143,845; New York, 141,640; and Virginia, 117,666.

Politically active, FilAms have elected a number of their compatriots to public office. It has been noted, too, that Pinoys here earn a higher average household income and achieve a higher level of education than average Americans.

Unlike in the Philippines where the president is elected directly by the people, the US president is chosen through the votes of an Electoral College, now consisting of 538 electors.

That number is equal to the total members of the Congress (435 representatives and 100 senators), plus those of the District of Columbia which has the same number of electors, currently three, as the least populous state.

The electors of all 50 states, except Maine and Nebraska, are chosen on a “winner-take-all” basis. A state has all its electors pledged to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in that state. Maine and Nebraska, however, select one elector within each congressional district by popular vote and select the remaining two electors by a statewide vote.

It could happen, as it did in 2016 when Hillary Clinton lost to Trump, that a candidate wins the popular vote but loses the presidential election after failing to get the required 270 majority electoral vote while her rival did.

This might explain why Trump does not focus-campaign in California despite its having the biggest number (55) of electoral votes. He probably thinks he can’t win there anyway, so he stomps in other big “battleground” or swing states that, together, could help him collect 270 votes.

California, btw, is the bailiwick of 56-year-old Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s vice presidential mate. If they win, she would gain the potential to become the first female president, of color and of Asian (Indian) descent to boot.

Poll data published by the Financial Times on Friday had Biden garnering 203 solid electoral votes in these 18 states: California (55 electoral votes), New York (29), Illinois (20), New Jersey (14), Virginia (13), Washington (12), Massachusetts (11), Maryland (10), Connecticut (7), Oregon (7), New Mexico (5), Hawaii (4), Rhode Island (4), Washington DC (3), Delaware (3), Vermont (3), Maine [Statewide] (2), and Maine [District 1] (1).

The FT poll tracker is based on data from Real Clear Politics. Poll averages are calculated for Biden and Trump in each state using an exponential decay formula, which gives more weight to recent polls. Then these averages are used to determine whether a state is “solid”, “leaning”, or a “toss-up”.

To Biden’s 203, the poll gave Trump 83 solid electoral votes in these 16 states: Tennessee (11 electoral votes), Alabama (9), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Oklahoma (7), Arkansas (6), Mississippi (6), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Idaho (4), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Wyoming (3), Nebraska [Statewide] (2), Nebraska [District 1] (1), and Nebraska [District 3] (1).

These seven states with a total of 70 electoral votes were rated as leaning Democratic: Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), New Hampshire (4), and Nebraska [District 2] (1).

These six states with 42 electoral votes were rated leaning Republican: Indiana (11), Missouri (10), South Carolina (9), Kansas (6), Alaska (3), and Montana (3).

Considered toss-up were these nine states with a total of 140 electoral votes: Texas (38 electoral votes), Florida (29), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), and Maine [District 2] (1). There is now intense campaigning to win these states.

There could be shifting until Election Day, but the early heavy turnout resulting in long lines of advance voters has been widely interpreted as indicating that a lot of people had already made up their mind and wanted their votes counted.

The Washington Post reported also Friday that those who had voted early had passed 50-percent of the 139-million turnout in 2016.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 1, 2020)

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