Presidents and Popularity: Trump & Biden

The vicious political debate between Trump and Biden has become the subject of many dining-room conversations. From serious issues like the economy to jabs at each other’s families and spats with the moderator, the presidential debate saw it all. Donald Trump’s tenure as the President of America has seen many controversies, commencing even before he was elected in 2016. This article shall look into the many scandals of President Trump, assess the public opinion of him and contrast it with Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign and popularity. 

Trump came to power with many promises, and he delivered on some of them. However, he has mostly driven the USA to a situation of decline, with the country now in racial and economic turmoil. Moreover, his administration has received flak for its incompetent management of the global pandemic that the world is fighting. America’s image as the leader of the world has gone for a toss: a study mentions that a median of 84% of adults say the U.S. has done a bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. The lack of swift action by the USA has led to a loss of many lives and has disturbed state apparatus. According to experts in the field, the US response was sluggish at best. The seeds were sowed by the political administration: chronic underfunding of public health, inefficient health-care system and racist policies enacted by the government, which led to some populations being especially vulnerable. To add to the unsatisfactory management of the pandemic, Trump administration failed to deliver on their promise of replacing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, instead ‘sabotaging’ it, according to a leading research institution.

America even let the world down. According to The Atlantic, the U.S. under President Donald Trump has withdrawn from several international partnerships and antagonized its allies. It has a seat on the WHO’s executive board, but left that position empty for more than two years, only filling it this May, when the pandemic was in full swing. This shows America’s negligence at a time it was busy going after China for the same reason.

Thus, the fall in Trump’s approval rating and the lack of confidence in America comes as no surprise. Statistics show that ratings for the U.S. President have been low throughout his presidency. Trump’s most negative assessment is in Belgium, where only 9% say they have confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in world affairs. His highest rating is in Japan; still, just one-quarter of Japanese express confidence in Trump. This is in sharp contrast to Obama’s presidency, where a median of 64% had a positive view of the U.S as compared to today’s 49%. 

The POTUS has also been accused of numerous scandals, involving serious claims like sexual harassment. Many women have come forward to accuse Trump of molestation, rape, groping, ogling and other forms of sexual misconduct. Trump has however denied these allegations, calling these women ‘liars’. Amongst the multitude of women who have accused Trump are his ex-wife Ivana and American journalist Jean Carroll. Ivana accused him of rape in 1989, though she later modified her statement, saying she felt ‘violated’ and did not want her statement to be misconstrued. Meanwhile, Carroll’s story, though credible, has not been picked enthusiastically by the media. She joined the ranks of 22 women who have accused the President, and the first to accuse him of clear-cut rape.

Under Trump, America is continuing its racist policies and actions. For example, the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the US police awoke protests that stem from a long history of police brutality and racial injustice. Trump has also been openly racist; his recent tweets – ‘go back where you came from’- against minority Democratic Congresswomen were widely denounced. The numbers are also racially biased: the Police stop Black people in Minneapolis at 2.46 times the rate proportional to their population, compared to .46 for white people, a study mentions. Meanwhile, the black unemployment rate is 16.7%, compared with a white unemployment rate of 14.2%, and experts estimate that the Paycheck Protection Program of the US government would lead to an upwards of 90% of businesses owned by people of colour to likely be shut. In the past, Trump and his father Fred have also been accused of allegedly denying rentals on the basis of race and colour, and demanding different terms and conditions on the same basis. 

The ongoing pandemic has rendered the Black population more vulnerable and as a result, they have contracted and died from the deadly virus in significantly higher numbers. Another example of the neglect faced by the minorities is Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, before COVID-19, which is believed to actually increase taxes for American households making below $30,000. The Centre for Public Integrity concludes that this will disproportionately impact Black people; almost 40% of Black households earn less than $30,000, compared to only 22% of white households.

Joe Biden is in perfect contrast to Trump’s overbearing personality. According to Global News, Biden’s personal identity is non-threatening: he is an older straight white man who was a loyal and supportive vice president to the first Black American president, and who has a long record of moderate Democratic policymaking.  Biden is leading ahead of Trump in the national polls, as White Seniors, a major chunk of Trump’s demographic is unhappy with the US response to the pandemic. Adding to this, a study by Pew Research claims Biden is currently favoured by 90% of Black Protestant registered voters, 70% of Jews and 67% of Hispanic Catholics. He is also the preferred candidate for 83% of atheists and agnostics, and 62% of people who describe their religion as “nothing in particular”.

However, Biden’s lead is reminiscent of the one enjoyed by Hilary Clinton in the national polls. But the election was won by Trump. Thus, we will have to wait and watch to know for sure what the outcome of these elections would be. 

Karishni Puri is a second-year student of Economics and International Relations at Ashoka University.

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