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Electoral College gives weight to states where Trump loyalists strongest

Mar 06,2019 - Last updated at Mar 06,2019

So far, only Republican Donald Trump has announced his intention to run for the US presidency in 2020, while the Democratic Party field of hopefuls stands at 12, including four women and one Hispanic candidate, while at least nine could enter the race. Among the latter is Joe Biden, former vice president to Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in 2016, has bowed out. Pundits predict that as many as 40 could stand for the state primaries, where voters make their choices ahead of the Democratic Party's nominating convention in July.

It remains to be seen if any Republican will challenge Trump. The party's convention will be held in August in Charlotte, North Carolina, a state where a slim majority voted for Trump last time.

During 2016, 12 stood in Republican primaries; 11, including one woman, dropped out during the primaries, five before. Although Clinton garnered 3 million votes more than Trump, he won the election by securing a majority in the Electoral College, created in 1880, where delegates are chosen by popular ballot to vote for the president and vice president. This system gives smaller, less populous states an advantage over heavily populated states and is not democratic.

His election surprised himself and quite rightly horrified many. There were two major Democratic rivals, former secretary of state Clinton and vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton earned the nomination by winning most primaries.

Sanders, now 77 years old, is the latest major contender to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He enjoys wide popularity, and within 72 hours after declaring his determination to run, raised more than $6 million for his campaign from individual donors. He rejects funds from the range of billionaires and political action committees (PACs) that dominate the US electoral scene and, often, determine the policies of victors they support once they reach the White House.

Although Sanders, a progressive who calls himself a "socialist", ran and was defeated by centrist Clinton, he can claim the political high ground in the coming race. Most of those who have declared their intention to run espouse the policies he introduced at the national level in 2016. He calls for universal healthcare, free university tuition, higher taxes for the rich and corporations, and urgent efforts to rescue the world from climate change. If he wins, he will be the first US president of Jewish background. A leftist, he is pro-Palestinian.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is a progressive who seeks to fix capitalism instead of replacing it. She wants to tax extreme wealth and elevate workers to seats on industry boards.

Senator Kamala Harris from California is the first woman from an Indian background to enter the race. She classifies herself as black, as her father is from Jamaica. She calls for healthcare for all and tax credits for the middle class.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who is also black, is another progressive. He advocates savings accounts for newborn babies. He has, however, promoted  private schools and enjoys friendly relations with Wall Street.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has moved from the centrist to the progressive wing of the party, while Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has attempted to work with Republicans on several issues, but is not well known outside her home state of Minnesota. Washington state governor Jay Inslee has made climate his sole campaign issue. Former Texas mayor and Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro, the grandson of immigrants, is promoting Hispanic rights. Hawaii's Representative Tulsi Gabbard is an anti-war progressive who has met Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper argues he is a moderate with a progressive record. The others who have entered the race are no-hopers.

Among those who have not declared their intention to run are Beto O'Rourke, a former Texas member of the House of Representatives, who is considered a potential star and has begun to build a campaign team. Former Obama administration members Joe Biden and John Kerry are said to be considering their positions.

An opinion poll conducted at the end of February revealed some interesting results. Forty-one per cent said they would, or might, vote for Trump, who still enjoys the backing of 88 per cent of Republicans.

Forty-eight per cent said they would vote for a Democratic candidate, although only 25 per cent believe a socialist would be a desirable nominee, and only 37 per cent said someone over 75 years of age would be desirable. A nominee under 40 would be acceptable to many. In spite of the preference for younger candidates, early Democratic front runners are Biden, 76, and Sanders, both "old white men".

Biden is seen as a safe bet, as he is a centrist, while Sanders is wildly popular, particularly with youngsters, because he seeks major change. Biden scares nobody, but has a penchant for saying the wrong thing. While vice president he called for the partition of Iraq, demonstrating a neo-colonialist mentality and, recently, dubbed current Vice President Mike Pence a "decent guy", although he is a radical evangelical Christian who holds extreme right-wing and racist views.

Sanders frightens those who are scared of "socialism". This word has become the battle cry taken up by Trump, who is regarded by Sanders and other progressives as "the most dangerous president in modern American history".

Democrats who have the majority in the House of Representatives have launched investigations into Trump's nefarious activities before and after he entered the White House. Their objective is to undermine Trump ahead of the 2020 campaign with a flurry of accusations and, they hope, indictments. While this effort is unlikely to impress Trump's "base" of about 30-35 per cent of voters, independents who backed him in 2016 might be swayed to abandon him next time.

"Suburban women" who cast ballots for Democrats in Congressional elections last year could cast ballots for the Democrat nominee next year. Unfortunately, the result could, once again, be decided in the Electoral College, which gives greater weight to constituencies and states where Trump loyalists are strongest.

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