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Home » Departments and Centres » Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies » News » Hot take on a nail-biter election

Hot take on a nail-biter election - Richard Maher


Richard Maher is a lecturer at University College Dublin and a former fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre. He shares his views the day after the election as results are coming in. 


The preliminary results of these elections seem to indicate Biden as the winner. Are you surprised by this result?

The election now hinges on the outcome in four states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Because of the large number of mail-in ballots in this year’s election, it will likely be several more days until we have final results from each of these states. Even though Trump seems to have outperformed expectations, Biden has a clearer path to victory at this point. Given Trump’s dismal record over the past four years and pre-election polls that showed Biden and Trump neck-and-neck in states such as Florida and even Texas, I’m surprised the election turned out to be so close.

There was a very high turn over to the polls. How do you think that this can affect the outcome? 

This year’s presidential election had the highest voter turnout in 120 years. Many analysts believed that a higher turnout would favor Biden, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

How much do you think that the pandemic affected this result? 

If not for a once-a-century pandemic, Trump very well may have won this year’s election last night. Fifty-seven percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Given how close the election is, however, many voters who disapprove of the way he’s handled the coronavirus crisis still voted for him. Had Trump been able to manage the crisis better, he likely would have won re-election.

What does this result mean for the future relations between the EU and the US?

Four more years of Trump would have put the transatlantic relationship in grave peril. If Biden wins the election, which seems likely at this point, he will try to repair the damage Trump has done to this essential partnership. Some of the damage will be irreparable, however. The United States and the EU will still be partners on a broad range of issues, but the damage to American credibility and its reputation in Europe will take years to recover – if it ever does.

As an American who has been living for several years in Europe, how do you explain this vote to your European colleagues and friends?

Like millions of people across Europe, many Americans both inside and outside the United States are dismayed and disheartened by Trump’s level of support in this election. This year’s election makes clear that 2016 was not an aberration. Despite his divisive rhetoric and controversial policies, millions of Americans want four more years of Trump. And even if he ends up losing this election, it’s clear that the era of Trump and Trumpism in the United States is not over.

Page last updated on 04 November 2020

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