• Aslam Abdullah

The US Presidential Election: The Battleground States

Political pundits use four terms to predict US election results. Safe states mean that either Republican or Democratic parties will undoubtedly carry the state. Likely states say that majority of the voters will likely vote either of the two. Lean States suggests that the majority favors either of the two but may change its mind on the election day. Swing or battleground states indicate states where either of the two-party may win depending on the voter turnout.

Voters in each state vote for their Presidential candidate by the popular votes cast nationwide do not elect the President. It is the electoral college that has the power to choose the highest executive of the country. The victor in a state takes all the electoral college votes regardless of how close was the context. The total number of electoral college members is 538. Each state has electors equal to its two Senators and the number of seats in the House of Representatives. The District of Columbia has three electoral votes. A candidate who gets the support of 270 electoral college members wins the Presidency.

As of mid-July, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has 13 safe states with 183 electoral college votes, four likely states with 29 votes, and six lean states with 65 votes. It gives him 278 votes if elections take place today.

The incumbent Donald Trump has 13 safe states with 77 votes, six likely states with 48 states, and two lean states with 44 votes with a total of 169 votes.

Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio Main, and Nebraska are a tossup.

It appears that Biden has an early advantage over Trump. But the situation may change by November depending on many factors, notably economy, and Covid-19 pandemics. Election experts suggest that in addition to tossup states, seven states, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, may swing either way depending on voter turnout.

In 2016 of these states, five states of the 2020 battleground states saw a close race with the winner overtaking the opponent by less than Two percent votes. Clinton won Minnesota and Colloredo, while Trump carried Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Of the 26 states where Trump won decisively, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, are in the category of battleground states in 2020. Experts are now adding Texas that has not voted a Democratic Presidential candidate in the last six elections as a swing state.

Muslim voters are more about two percent in all the battleground states, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, where they constitute less than one percent of the votes. Their votes in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin will play a significant role in the outcome of Presidential election. However, it would depend on whether Muslim voters turnout on election day or cast the votes if they decide to vote by mail. There are two significant issues Muslim voters face. One group of Muslims believes that the community should not participate in the electoral process as Islam does not permit it. The second is the presence of a large number of eligible non-English speaking elderly voters.

Muslim organizations tend to focus on mosques and Islamic centers for registering voters. Studies show that only 20 percent of Muslims attend the mosques for Friday prayers regularly. A majority of Muslim women do not come to mosques on Fridays because the Muslim scholars have convinced them to pray at home.

Consequently, a large section of Muslim voters does not exercise its right to vote. Registering this segment of the community and convincing them to vote either at the polling booth or through mail ballot would require sustained effort by Muslim organizations and groups.

Those who have made up their mind that democracy is unacceptable in Islam are adamant on their position based on their faith. They will not change their beliefs. Hence it is futile to engage with them on this issue. Even though their lives as citizens depend on the electoral process, they do not believe that democracy is a legitimate institution to understand the people's will.

Regardless, the November elections will open new avenues for Muslims in the country as both Biden and Trump will try to woo them. People assume that the majority of Muslims always vote Democrats. It is not the case. Muslims voted George Bush overwhelmingly in the 2000 Presidential election. It would be wrong to assume that Muslim support for Biden is absolute. Muslim voters, especially youth born and raised in the US, have an independent political identity, and they will exercise it on Nov 3, 2020.

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© Aslam Abdullah