Whoever wins, expect no strong mandate, says US pollster | Inquirer News

Whoever wins, expect no strong mandate, says US pollster

Whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden wins the United States’ fraught presidential race, neither of them will get a strong mandate, according to a US pollster.

“No matter who wins this presidential election, there is not a strong mandate for either the Biden direction or the Trump direction,’’ John Zogby, public opinion pollster and founder of Zogby Strategies, said on Wednesday night (Manila time).

“Either is going to face just about half of the electorate who not only didn’t vote for him but, for the most part, really can’t stand him or what he stands for,” Zogby told participants of the US Foreign Press Center Virtual Reporting Tour on the 2020 US elections, which included the Inquirer.


Zogby made his remarks as election results showed Biden leading Trump in the race to get the required 270 votes of the US electoral college. At that time, Michigan and Wisconsin had yet to be declared the latest states won by Biden.


At press time on Friday, US news agencies counted 253 electoral votes for Biden against 213 for Trump, making the Democratic Party standard-bearer 17 votes shy of wresting the presidency from his Republican Party counterpart.

Americans elect their president through a 538-member electoral college. While they go out to vote or mail their ballots, the presidential candidate wins through votes from states and not the popular vote. A presidential candidate needs 270 of 538 votes to win.

‘A mess’

With the votes of those who cast their ballots before the Nov. 3 election (through mail-in or absentee voting) still to be counted, Zogby said the winner would be known at the very earliest on Thursday (Friday in Manila) or possibly Friday, or even Saturday.

But Zogby noted that a recount of votes could happen in some states, thus postponing the results for another few days. He also cited Trump’s Tuesday night address in which the president said he would challenge the existence and the counting of many of the absentee ballots.

“What we have then potentially and probably is a mess,’” Zogby said.

Indeed, lawyers for Trump have filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Michigan demanding a stop to the count until their campaign observers could get to locations where the count was going on.


Zogby said the polls, including his own, projected a “big blue wave,” or people who normally voted Democrat and would be voting for the first time as such before Nov. 3. He said this had materialized, as well as the “big red wave,” or those voting Republican on Election Day itself.

“In terms of counting the ballots, then we knew that there was a big blue wave before the election and a big red wave the day of the election,” he said, adding that it would only be now that the votes cast by Democratic voters would be counted.

Saying they had also expected a big voter turnout, Zogby said at least 150 million Americans voted in this election, or 12 million “extra” voters from the 2016 presidential race.

“Where do they come from? They came actually from both sides’ constituencies,’” he said.

Of those who voted on Nov. 3, 38 percent were Democrats, 34 percent identified themselves as Republicans, and 20 percent were independents or with no party affiliation.

Why Trump fared well

Explaining why Trump fared well in the polls, Zogby said the No. 1 reason that voters cited in voting was the economy, which was the president’s line in his campaign. Trump got 80 percent of their support. He also won among those who said the United States needed a strong leader.

The polls also showed that those who voted for Trump were those who decided on their candidate at the last minute.

On the other hand, Biden got the support of those who said the No. 2 top issue in voting was racial inequality, as well as the issue that handling the coronavirus pandemic was needed before the economy could be rebuilt.

Looking at the way voters cast their ballots, Zogby said both Trump and Biden “held on to their expected constituencies.”

But he noted certain “key items’” that were “worth to know” about the election outcome.

These included the fact that Biden did much better than Trump and even Hillary Clinton in 2016 as more men and women voted for him. He also got more votes from Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, as well as voters age 18 to 29 years old.

On the other hand, Trump won more white voters, those over 65 years old, and evangelicals.

Zogby also said it appeared that Biden was winning the popular vote as he was leading it by about 2 percentage points, or 50 percent, against 48 percent for Trump.

He said Biden might end up winning the popular vote by 3 percentage points, compared with Clinton’s 2.5-percentage-point victory in 2016.

2 conclusions

With the presidential race so close, Zogby said two conclusions could be drawn immediately: “No matter who wins, we can draw the conclusion that Donald Trump was not repudiated by the public. We can also draw the conclusion that Joe Biden, if he wins, will not get a strong ringing endorsement from the voting public.”

Zogby likewise noted that a Biden presidency would have to work on a split Congress as Democrats had yet to win sufficient seats to comprise the majority in Congress.

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“If Joe Biden wins, he has pledged to build a national community, to reach out to the other side. He has a history of doing that,’” Zogby said, adding that he hoped Trump would do the same in victory.

TAGS: America, Biden, Trump, US Elections

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