Four things to know, one year from the US presidential election

At a rally of Pete Buttigieg, Iowa, November 3, 2019.
At a rally of Pete Buttigieg, Iowa, November 3, 2019. SCOTT OLSON / AFP

Procedure for dismissal against Donald Trump, gust of conflicting polls for the Democratic favorite, abandoning a hope in the open countryside … At three hundred and sixty-five days of the US presidential election of November 3, 2020, the stage is set for a race which promises to be uncertain, in a country more divided than ever.

Among the Democrats, the campaign has been launched for almost a year. Former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and housing secretary under the Obama administration, Julian Castro was the first to launch an exploratory committee on December 12, 2018, followed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on December 31, 2018. Then, with television interviews, press forums or videos posted on social networks, the nominations followed one another over the months: from Bernie Sanders to the "feel good" candidate Pete Buttigieg, to that, highly anticipated, from Joe Biden, the former vice president of Barack Obama, April 25. In total, twenty-two candidates declared themselves.

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However, this pre-campaign phase did not take place without breaks, and the abandonments multiplied. The most resounding withdrawal is that of Beto O'Rourke: if he has a time is figure of new hope of the Democratic camp with his sharp speech, he ended up throwing in the towel, failing to take off in the polls and power raise funds for his campaign. At the beginning of November, seventeen candidates were still in the running.

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After the warm-up round of spring and summer, the campaign will accelerate. On November 20, a dozen candidates will compete for a new debate, the fifth, in Atlanta. A sixth debate is scheduled for December 19 in Los Angeles. In 2020, six other debates will see the candidates still competing against each other.

One year before the election, candidates like Elizabeth Warren are trying to make a left turn to their party, dealing with health insurance, the carrying of arms or immigration. Despite their efforts, public policy issues risk being relegated to the background by the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.

  • Who's racing in mind?

At one year of the deadline, the games are far from being made. Favorite until September, Joe Biden is relegated to fourth place in Iowa, according to a poll of New York Times and Siena College, with 17% of voting intentions. Senator Elizabeth Warren is in the lead (22.3%), followed by Bernie Sanders (19%) and Pete Buttigieg (18%). It was a brutal plunge for former Obama's running mate, who had 27.3 percent of the vote in mid-September. In New Hampshire, Warren is in the lead, with 25% of voting intentions ahead of Biden (21%), followed by Sanders (20%).

At the national level, according to RealClearPolitics, Biden saw its advantage fall sharply, even if it remains in the lead (29%). During the summer, Senator Warren climbed to second place (20%), followed by Sanders (17%) and Buttigieg (7%). The former vice president has been snapped up by the Ukrainian case which is worth to Donald Trump the opening of the procedure of impeachment: it is indeed to dirty his potential Democratic rival that the American president would have put pressure on the Ukraine , suspects the Democrats. Mr Trump asked Kiev to investigate the Biden family. These national polls, however, are an imperfect tool for predicting elections, warns New York Times. This is all the more true during primaries that will take place in stages, in one or more states at a time.

Current polls test four presidential duel scenarios: a Trump-Biden match would see the former vice president win by 8.9 points (according to RealClearPolitics' average polls); the Trump-Warren duel gives the Senator from Massachusetts five points ahead; the Trump-Sanders scenario puts the Vermont senator in the lead with a 6.3% lead; and the Trump-Buttigieg duel gives the mayor of South Bend (Indiana) 2.7% ahead of the outgoing president.

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  • What are the key dates of 2020?

If the election is within three hundred and sixty-five days, the Iowa caucus takes place in ninety-one days. It is in this Midwestern state that the race will be really launched on February 3, 2020: this small rural state has an oversized weight in the US election because it is the first to vote in the primaries. The Democratic primaries will continue in three particularly scrutinized states as they can propel a candidate, or destroy his hopes: New Hampshire on February 11, Nevada on the 22nd and South Carolina on the 29th.

On March 3, 2020, it will be the avalanche of primaries during the Super Tuesday: the polls organized in fifteen states – including the two most populated that are California and Texas – and an overseas territory will mark decisively the race in the Democratic camp. Until June, other states and territories will organize their primary education.

The Democratic Party's national convention, to be held from July 13-16, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – a state that was sorely missed by the Democrats in November 2016 – will be the top floor of the rocket: after more than one In an intense campaign, the Democratic Party will nominate its US presidential candidate and get into battle.

  • What's going on Republican side?

Opposite, Republicans, things are relatively simpler. Donald Trump entered the campaign for re-election on … February 17, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida, less than a month after taking office. For the 2020 campaign, the Republican president should try to repeat the winning strategy of 2016: to win through his constituents a few key states allowing him to get a majority of voters, and win the most voters even in being beaten in total votes.

In the Republican camp, three personalities formally challenge the investiture of Donald Trump. But Joe Walsh, Bill Weld and Mark Sanford, who have run for office, have no chance of dethroning the incumbent president. Already strong official support of the Republican Party and very popular with the grassroots, Donald Trump should be nominated for re-election … unless he was removed from office, which seems unlikely at this stage.

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A survey Washington Post-ABC published on the 1st November shows some worrying signs for Donald Trump: his approval rate among Republicans fell to 74%, eight points lower than September and thirteen points lower than in July. And, overall, its action garnered only 38% approval, nearly half of Americans (48%) "Strongly disapproving of his action" (Trump's overall rate of disapproval is 58%).

Whether or not Donald Trump is a candidate, the Republicans will step up behind their candidate at the National Republican Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, August 24-27, 2020.

On September 29, the first presidential debate will take place. The Republican and Democratic candidates will compete on a television set for the first time, before two other debates on October 15 and 22. Candidates for the Vice Presidency will debate on 7 October. US voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, November 3rd. In addition to the president and his vice-presidential candidate, they will also renew all 435 elected members of the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, 23 of which are currently held by the Republican Party.


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