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Crucial Moment for US Presidential Primaries

POLITICSCrucial Moment for US Presidential Primaries

There are just over eight months left until the presidential elections in the United States. So far, there is no doubt that Donald Trump will receive the Republican Party’s nomination and face current President Joe Biden in the race for the White House. Despite 90 criminal allegations looming over him, current polls give him an even chance, and even a slight advantage. A nationwide survey of registered voters, conducted in late February by The New York Times and Siena College, showed that if the election were held today, Trump would win with a 5% lead in votes.

“The primary reason that voters are for Trump is that they are frustrated, angry, fed up with Washington, it’s because they want to stick it to someone, they want to express their frustration. And that is his strength, he is the voice of these people,” says American Studies expert Dr. hab. Bohdan Szklarski.

“Donald Trump’s Republican nomination is a foregone conclusion, but his return to power in November is still—to use a colloquial phrase—up in the air. This will be an election where the difference between Trump and Biden will not be significant and anyone who dares to predict a result now is reading tea leaves,” says Dr. hab. Bohdan Szklarski, Professor at the University of Warsaw, and expert at the American Studies Center.

Last weekend, Donald Trump strongly defeated his main rival, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, in the primaries in Michigan, Missouri, and Idaho, bolstering his chances of obtaining the Republican Party nomination in the November presidential elections in the US. Although Nikki Haley won Sunday’s primaries in Washington, earning her first victory in the process, the former president still appears to be an almost certain Republican candidate for the election—so far, he has secured the votes of 247 delegates of the Republican Party, while Nikki Haley has just 24. The next significant date on the election calendar is Super Tuesday, on March 5, when the primary elections take place simultaneously in 16 states, with 874 delegate votes up for grabs at the Republican Party convention, which will ultimately choose a presidential candidate.

So far, the polls leave no doubt that Trump will face off against Joe Biden for the White House this November, and they even give him a slight advantage. The nationwide survey of registered voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College in late February showed that if the election were held today, Biden, with 43% support, would trail Trump who is at 48%.

“In these American states where we cannot determine that they are unequivocally Republican or Democratic—and there are currently ten out of fifty—Donald Trump is mostly on par with Biden or has a slight lead. But, the actual election campaign hasn’t really started yet and we will see in the heat of this battle which of them convinces the small group of undecided voters who they should vote for,” says the American Studies expert from the University of Warsaw.

The former president, who is running for the Republican nomination, is still facing over 90 criminal charges. In mid-February, Trump was also convicted in the first instance and fined $355 million for defrauding banks about the value of his properties and artificially inflating their prices in financial statements to be able to borrow large sums on preferential terms. He was also issued a three-year ban on running businesses and taking out loans, but Trump has already announced an appeal against this sentence. In addition, proceedings are still underway against him in other cases, including irregularities in the previous presidential elections in 2020. However, the expert believes this should not significantly harm his candidacy.

“One must take legal matters into account in electoral calculations, but not because a court verdict would make it impossible for Trump to run for office. There won’t be a verdict that would prohibit him from running for office,” says Dr. hab. Bohdan Szklarski.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Donald Trump cannot be excluded from running in the election without a prior decision from Congress. It thereby nullified the decision of several state authorities to exclude the former president from the primaries, who cited Trump’s involvement in a rebellion against the state. This is how they described him inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

“From the voters’ point of view, looking at these 91 charges against Donald Trump and five court cases, some already lost, some appeals, issues from sexual harassment, incompetent document management, to calling for the overthrow of the system—the range of charges against Trump—this rather leads to a shrug of the shoulders and a reaction of ‘so what?’. These issues will not harm Donald Trump, even if a guilty verdict is pronounced in them, because he skillfully creates the image of himself as a victim of the system. And his ability to craft this image is really admirable,” the expert evaluates.

One of the key topics in the upcoming presidential election in the US will undoubtedly be economic issues. However, despite the acceleration of US economic growth last year, according to a February poll by The New York Times and Siena College, only one in four voters believes the country is heading in the right direction. Most believe the economy is in poor shape. The percentage of those who feel wronged by Joe Biden’s politics is twice as high as those who declare that they have benefited from it. The percentage of voters who decidedly disapprove of his way of running the office has reached 47%, more than in Times polls at any point of his presidency. Analysts suggest that this is a warning sign for the incumbent president in matters concerning the Democrats’ weaknesses, including among women voters, black people, and Latinos.

“Donald Trump’s voters are primarily his fans because they’re frustrated, angry, fed up with Washington, they want to punish someone, they want to express their frustration. And that’s his strength, he’s the voice of these people who don’t like ‘American Warsaw,’ which is Washington, this swamp that he was supposed to drain and failed, but has asked for four more years for another chance. And that’s why some people vote for him. Among them are wealthy and poor, union members and farmers, women and men, young and old, black and white. His supporting coalition is quite diverse, of course with a huge majority of white Americans, but the flow of votes from African Americans and Latinos towards Donald Trump is also noticeable,” emphasizes the expert from the American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw.

“The Democrats maybe take the support of African Americans and Latinos for granted. The results of the 2020 elections suggest that they should be thoughtful about this issue, just as they are currently intensively thinking about the support of American Muslims, which just made themselves heard in Michigan, not supporting Joe Biden like the rest of the Democratic voters during the primaries. This is quite a strong signal for Biden that no minority should be taken for granted,” he adds.

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