Below please find key take-outs from our October 1st panel with Mark Thompson, former CEO of the New York Times and former Director General of the BBC; Sarah Baxter, Former deputy editor of The Sunday Times; Orson Porter, former Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton, Senior Communications Adviser to Barack Obama; Tony Sayegh, former Senior Adviser for Strategy to President Donald; and chaired by Principal of Teneo’s Situations and Politics practice and former Downing Street Director of Politics and Communications, Craig Oliver.
- Whatever happens on the day of the election, it looks highly unlikely that it will be settled overnight on the night of Tuesday 3rd / 4th November. Whether it is because of delays in counting ballots, the closeness of the race, or Trump’s obstructionism, the panel felt the result could be contested for days or maybe even weeks. Whilst many previous candidates have delayed concessions, this situation represents a risk for business as this electoral uncertainty would sit against a backdrop of increasing civil unrest in some US cities.
- Whatever you think about Trump’s campaign and his debate performance on Tuesday, he is certainly energising his base and leaving the Democrats with an ‘enthusiasm gap’. Biden’s supporters put this down to his positioning as a moderate candidate and the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on campaigning. Conversely, Trump knows that his best route to victory is turning out his base, particularly in swing states and relying on left wing Democrats staying at home.
- November’s election will be the most polarised for a generation. The first 100 days of a Trump or Biden Presidency will have great significance for businesses. Whilst Trump will continue his political agenda at home and abroad, Biden is set to focus on the ‘kitchen table issues’ including employment support and action on Covid-19. The most notable shift on international issues, under Biden, would be rejoining the Paris Climate accords.
- The US’ electoral college system means that it will be the swing states that will decide the election including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. Whilst our Democrat expert predicted Wisconsin being a Biden win, our Republican representative expects a replica of the 2016 map, but with Michigan turning Democrat and Minnesota going Republican.
- We might be less than five weeks away but there is still a lot that can swing the result. Donald Trump’s nomination of a new Supreme Court Justice could galvanise the right, the two remaining debates could shift public opinion, or violence in US cities could focus the final days on law and order. Finally, the US is likely to see the same ‘shy Tory’ phenomenon we talk about a lot here in the UK. If that’s the case, the final result could be significantly different to the outcome currently predicted by the polls.