2020 United States presidential election
The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. It will be the 59th quadrennial presidential election. Voters will select presidential electors who in turn will vote on December 14, 2020, to either elect a new president and vice president or reelect the incumbents Donald Trump and Mike Pence respectively. The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses are being held from February to August 2020. This nominating process is an indirect election, where voters cast ballots selecting a slate of delegates to a political party's nominating convention, who then, in turn, elect their party's nominees for president and vice president.
Donald Trump, the 45th and incumbent president, has launched a re-election campaign for the Republican primaries; several state Republican Party organizations have canceled their primaries in a show of support for his candidacy. Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee on March 17, 2020, after securing a majority of pledged delegates. 29 major candidates launched campaigns for the Democratic nomination, which became the largest field of candidates for any political party in the post-reform period of American politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee when Senator Bernie Sanders, the only other remaining major candidate in the Democratic primary, suspended his campaign on April 8, 2020. In early June, Biden passed the threshold of 1,991 delegates to gain the nomination at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen secured her party's nomination at a virtual convention on May 23, 2020, with her running mate, Spike Cohen being chosen shortly thereafter, while Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins secured his party's nomination on July 11, 2020, along with his running mate Angela Nicole Walker.
Biden and Trump are respectively the oldest and second-oldest major party presumptive presidential nominees in U.S. history; and if either of them is elected and inaugurated, they will also become the oldest serving president presuming they serve out their term. The winner of the 2020 presidential election is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.
Procedureof the United States Constitution states that for a person to serve as president, the individual must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old and a United States resident for at least 14 years. Candidates for the presidency typically seek the nomination of one of the various political parties of the United States, in which case each party develops a method to choose the candidate the party deems best suited to run for the position. The primary elections are usually indirect elections where voters cast ballots for a slate of party delegates pledged to a particular candidate. The party's delegates then officially nominate a candidate to run on the party's behalf. The presidential nominee typically chooses a vice presidential running mate to form that party's ticket, who is then ratified by the delegates at the party's convention. The general election in November is also an indirect election, in which voters cast ballots for a slate of members of the Electoral College; these electors then directly elect the president and vice president. If no candidate receives the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election, the United States House of Representatives will select the president from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes, and the United States Senate will select the vice president from the candidates who received the two highest totals. The election will occur simultaneously alongside elections for the House of Representatives, Senate, and various state and local-level elections.
On August 26, 2019, the Maine legislature passed a bill adopting ranked-choice voting both for presidential primaries and for the general election. On September 6, 2019, Governor Janet Mills allowed the bill to become law without her signature, which delayed it from taking effect until after the 2020 Democratic primary in March, but puts Maine on track to be the first state to use ranked-choice voting for a presidential general election. The law continues the use of the congressional district method for the allocation of electors, as Maine and Nebraska have used in recent elections. The change could potentially delay the projection of the winner of Maine's electoral votes for days after election day, and will also complicate interpretation of the national popular vote.
The Twenty-second Amendment states that an individual cannot be elected to the presidency more than twice. This prohibits former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama from being elected president again. Former President Jimmy Carter, having served only a single term as president, is not constitutionally prohibited from being elected to another term in the 2020 election, though he has no plans to do so, saying, "95 is out of the question. I'm having a hard time walking. I think the time has passed for me to be involved actively in politics, much less run for president."
Demographic trendsThe age group of what will then be people in the 18-to-45-year-old bracket is expected to represent just under 40 percent of the United States' eligible voters in 2020. It is expected that more than 30 percent of eligible American voters will be nonwhite.
A bipartisan report indicates that changes in voter demographics since the 2016 election could impact the results of the 2020 election. African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic minorities, as well as "whites with a college degree", are expected to all increase their percentage of national eligible voters by 2020, while "whites without a college degree" will decrease. Generation Z, those born after 1996, will more than double to 10% of the eligible voters. It is possible Trump could win the Electoral College while still losing the popular vote, possibly by an even larger margin than in 2016.
Simultaneous electionsThe presidential election will occur simultaneously with elections to the Senate and the House of Representatives. Gubernatorial and legislative elections will also be held in several states. Following the election, the United States House will redistribute the seats among the 50 states based on the results of the 2020 United States Census, and the states will conduct a redistricting of Congressional and state legislative districts. In most states the governor and the state legislature conduct the redistricting, and often a party that wins a presidential election experiences a coattail effect which also helps other candidates of that party win elections. Therefore, the party that wins the 2020 presidential election could also win a significant advantage in the drawing of new Congressional and state legislative districts that would stay in effect until the 2032 elections.
ImpeachmentThe House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump on two counts on December 18, 2019. The trial in the Senate began on January 21, 2020, and ended on February 5, resulting in acquittal by the United States Senate.
This is the first time a president has been impeached during his first term and while running for a second term. Trump continued to hold campaign rallies during the impeachment. This is also the first time since the modern presidential primaries were established in 1911 that a president has been subjected to impeachment while the primary season was underway. The impeachment process overlapped with the primary campaigns, forcing senators running for the Democratic nomination to remain in Washington for the trial in the days before and after the Iowa caucuses.
Effects of the COVID-19 pandemicSeveral events related to the 2020 presidential election have been altered or postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On March 10, following primary elections in six states, Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders cancelled planned campaign night events and further in-person campaigning and campaign rallies. On March 12, President Trump also stated his intent to postpone further campaign rallies. The 11th Democratic debate was held on March 15 without an audience at the CNN studios in Washington, D.C. Several states have also postponed their primaries to a later date, including Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, and Maryland. As of March 24, 2020, all major-party presidential candidates had halted in-person campaigning and campaign rallies over coronavirus concerns. Political analysts have stated that the moratorium on traditional campaigning coupled with the effects of the pandemic on the nation could have unpredictable effects on the voting populace and possibly, how the election will be conducted.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act included money for states to increase mail-in voting. The Trump campaign have strongly opposed mail-in-voting because they believe that it would cause widespread voter fraud, a belief which has been debunked by a number of media organizations.
Government response to the impact of the pandemic from the Trump administration, coupled to the differing positions taken by congressional Democrats and Republicans regarding economic stimulus remains a major campaign issue for both parties.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States, and the subsequent effects such as the stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines by local governments, all presidential candidates are unable to hold campaign rallies and public gatherings. As a result, at the daily White House coronavirus briefing in April, Trump played a campaign-style video praising himself for his early response to the pandemic while lambasting his opponent and lambasting the press as "fake news media" in the process. According to Trump, it was the media who was initially "downplaying the effects of the virus." This behavior led to comments by pundits and the press that Trump is using the daily White House coronavirus briefings to replace his campaign rallies and benefit him politically.
On April 6, the Supreme Court and Republicans in the State Legislature of Wisconsin rebuffed Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers's request to move the election in Wisconsin to June. As a result, the election went ahead as planned. At least seven new cases of the coronavirus infection were traced to this election. Voting-rights advocates have expressed fear of similar chaos on a nationwide scale in November, recommending states to move to expand vote-by-mail options.
On June 20, despite continuing concerns over COVID-19, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Trump's campaign could hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the Bank of Oklahoma Center. Originally scheduled for June 19, the Trump campaign changed the date of this gathering due to the Juneteenth holiday. The rally was widely viewed as a failure, with attendances far lower than expected. It was then revealed that 7.7 million people watched the event, a record for Fox News.
Foreign interferenceU.S. officials have accused China, Russia and Iran of trying to influence the 2020 United States elections. On October 4, 2019, Microsoft announced that "Phosphorus", a group of hackers linked to the Iranian government, had attempted to compromise e-mail accounts belonging to journalists, U.S. government officials and the campaign of a U.S. presidential candidate. The Voice of America reported in April 2020 that "Internet security researchers say there have already been signs that China-allied hackers have engaged in so-called "spear-phishing" attacks on American political targets ahead of the 2020 vote."
On February 13, 2020, American intelligence officials advised members of the House Intelligence Committee that Russia was interfering in the 2020 election in an effort to get Trump re-elected. The briefing was delivered by Shelby Pierson, the intelligence community's top election security official and an aide to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. On February 21, 2020, The Washington Post reported that, according to unnamed US officials, Russia was interfering in the Democratic primary in an effort to support the nomination of Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders issued a statement after the news report, saying in part, "I don't care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president. My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president, I will make sure that you do." Sanders acknowledged that his campaign was briefed about Russia's alleged efforts about a month prior. Russia has repeatedly interfered in the election to support the candidacy of President Trump.
Potential rejection of election resultsDuring the election, various articles have been published suggesting that Trump may not, or will not, accept the election results, owing primarily to his tweets suggesting that the election will be rigged against him and his own suggestions that he will not accept electoral defeat.
The White House has dismissed these suggestions, and Trump told Fox News on June 5, 2020, that "Certainly if I don't win, I don't win."however, but Trump has given mixed statements. Trump stated in an interview to Fox News on June 5, 2020, that "Certainly if I don't win, I don't win", but on July 19, 2020 declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election, telling Fox News anchor Chris Wallace "I have to see."
Election delay speculationIn April 2020, Biden suggested that Trump may try to delay the election,saying that Trump "is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held." On July 30, Trump tweeted that "With Universal Mail-In Voting, 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history..." and asked if it should be delayed until people can safely cast ballots in person. Experts have indicated that, for the election to be legally delayed, such a decision must be undertaken by Congress. It has been noted by several legal experts that the constitution sets the end of the presidential and vice-presidential terms as January 20, a hard deadline which cannot be altered by congress.
Republican Party nomination
PrimariesIn election cycles with incumbent presidents running for re-election, the race for their party nomination are usually pro-forma, with token opposition instead of any serious challengers and with their party rules being fixed in their favor. The 2020 election is no exception; with Donald Trump formally seeking a second term, the official Republican apparatus, both state and national, have coordinated with his campaign to implement changes to make it difficult for any primary opponent to mount a serious challenge. On January 25, 2019, the Republican National Committee unofficially endorsed Trump.
Several Republican state committees have scrapped their respective primaries or caucuses. They have cited the fact that Republicans canceled several state primaries when George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush sought a second term in 1992 and 2004, respectively; and Democrats scrapped some of their primaries when Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were seeking reelection in 1996 and 2012, respectively. After cancelling their races, some of those states, such as Hawaii and New York, immediately pledged their delegates to Trump, while other such states like Kansas and Nevada later formally held a convention or meeting to officially award their delegates to him.
In addition, the Trump campaign urged Republican state committees that used proportional methods to award delegates in 2016 to switch to a "winner-takes-all" or "winner-takes-most" for 2020.
Nevertheless, reports arose beginning in August 2017 that members of the Republican Party were preparing a "shadow campaign" against the President, particularly from the moderate or establishment wings of the party. Then-Arizona senator John McCain said, "Republicans see weakness in this president." Maine senator Susan Collins, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie all expressed doubts in 2017 that Trump would be the 2020 nominee, with Collins stating "it's too difficult to say." Senator Jeff Flake claimed in 2017 that Trump was "inviting" a primary challenger by the way he was governing. Longtime political strategist Roger Stone, however, predicted in May 2018 that Trump might not seek a second term were he to succeed in keeping all his campaign promises and "mak America great again".
Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld became Trump's first major challenger in the Republican primaries following an announcement on April 15, 2019. Weld, who was the Libertarian Party's nominee for vice president in 2016, was considered a long shot because of the popularity of Trump within his own party and Weld's positions on issues such as abortion, gun control and same-sex marriage that conflicted with conservative positions on those issues.
In addition, businessman Rocky De La Fuente entered the race on May 16, 2019, but was not widely recognized as a major candidate.
Former Illinois representative Joe Walsh launched a primary challenge on August 25, 2019, saying, "I'm going to do whatever I can. I don't want to win. The country cannot afford to have him win. If I'm not successful, I'm not voting for him." Walsh ended his presidential bid on February 7, 2020, after drawing around 1% support in the Iowa caucuses. Walsh declared that "nobody can beat Trump in a Republican primary" because the Republican Party was now "a cult" of Trump. According to Walsh, Trump supporters had become "followers" who think that Trump "can do no wrong", after absorbing misinformation from conservative media. He stated, "They don't know what the truth is and — more importantly — they don't care."
On September 8, 2019, former South Carolina governor and representative Mark Sanford officially announced that he would be another Republican primary challenger to Trump. He dropped out of the race 65 days later on November 12, 2019, after failing to gain support in Republican circles.
Donald Trump's re-election campaign has essentially been ongoing since his victory in 2016, leading pundits to describe his tactic of holding rallies continuously throughout his presidency as a "never-ending campaign". On January 20, 2017, at 5:11 p.m., he submitted a letter as a substitute of FEC Form 2, by which he reached the legal threshold for filing, in compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act. Trump ran an active campaign during the primary season, even holding rallies in the February primary states, including South Carolina and Nevada where Republican primaries were canceled.
Trump won every race, and having won enough delegates to ensure his nomination at the convention, Trump became the presumptive nominee on March 17, 2020. Weld suspended his campaign the next day.
CandidatesThe following major candidates have either: held public office, been included in a minimum of five independent national polls, or received substantial media coverage.
Democratic Party nomination
PrimariesIn August 2018, the Democratic National Committee voted to disallow superdelegates from voting on the first ballot of the nominating process, beginning with the 2020 election. This required a candidate to win a majority of pledged delegates from the assorted primary elections in order to win the party's nomination. The last time this did not occur was the nomination of Adlai Stevenson II at the 1952 Democratic National Convention. Meanwhile, six states used ranked-choice voting in the primaries: Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, and Wyoming for all voters; and Iowa and Nevada for absentee voters.
After Hillary Clinton's loss in the previous election, the Democratic Party was seen largely as leaderless and fractured between the centrist Clinton wing and the more progressive Sanders wing of the party, echoing the rift brought up in the 2016 primary election. In 2018, several U.S. House districts that Democrats hoped to gain from the Republican majority had contentious primary elections. These clashes were described by Politicos Elena Schneider as a "Democratic civil war". Meanwhile, there has been a general shift to the left in regards to college tuition, healthcare, and immigration among Democrats in the Senate, likely to build up credentials for the upcoming primary election.
Overall, the 2020 primary field had 29 major candidates, breaking the record for the largest field under the modern presidential primary system previously set during the 2016 GOP primaries with 17 major candidates. Several female candidates entered the race, increasing the likelihood of the Democrats nominating a woman for the second time in a row.
Entering the Iowa caucuses on February 3, 2020, however, the field had decreased to 11 major candidates. Pete Buttigieg narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders in Iowa, then Sanders edged Buttigieg in the February 11 New Hampshire primary. Following Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick, and Andrew Yang dropping out, Sanders won the Nevada caucuses on February 22. Joe Biden then won the South Carolina primary, causing Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer to abandon their campaigns. After Super Tuesday, March 3, Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren quit the race, leaving three candidates left: Biden and Sanders, the main contenders, and Tulsi Gabbard, who remained in the race despite facing nigh-on insurmountable odds. Gabbard then dropped out and endorsed Biden after the March 17 Arizona, Florida, and Illinois races. On April 8, 2020, Sanders dropped out, reportedly after being convinced by former president Barack Obama, leaving Biden as the only major candidate remaining, and the presumptive nominee. Biden then gained endorsements from Obama, Sanders and Warren, By June 5, 2020, Biden had officially gained enough delegates to ensure his nomination at the convention, and proceeded to work with Sanders to develop a joint policy task force.
CandidatesThe following major candidates have either: served as vice president, a member of the cabinet, a U.S. senator, a U.S. representative, or a governor, been included in a minimum of five independent national polls, or received substantial media coverage.
Libertarian Party nominationJo Jorgensen, who was the running mate of author Harry Browne in 1996, received the Libertarian nomination at the National Convention on May 23, 2020.
Green Party nominationIn October 2019, Howie Hawkins won the nomination of the Socialist Party USA. Hawkins became the presumptive nominee of the Green Party on June 21, 2020, and was officially nominated by the party on July 11, 2020.
Other nominations and independent candidates
Party conventionsThe 2020 Democratic National Convention was originally scheduled for July 13–16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but was delayed to August 17–20 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. On June 24, 2020, it was announced that the convention would be held in a mixed online-in person format, with most delegates attending remotely but a few still attending the physical convention site.
The 2020 Republican National Convention is planned to be held on August 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina, which would make it the first time since 1864 a major-party convention has lasted only one day. Originally, a three-day convention was planned to be held in North Carolina, but due to North Carolina's insistence that the convention follow COVID-19 social distancing rules, the speeches and celebrations were moved to Jacksonville, Florida. However, due to the worsening situation with regards to COVID-19 in Florida, the plans there were cancelled, and the convention was moved back to Charlotte in a scaled-down capacity.
The 2020 Libertarian National Convention was originally going to be held in Austin, Texas, over Memorial Day weekend from May 22 to 25, but all reservations at the JW Marriott Downtown Austin for the convention were cancelled on April 26 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was eventually decided by the Libertarian National Committee that the party would hold two conventions, one online from May 22–24 to select the presidential and vice-presidential nominees and one at a physical convention in Orlando, Florida, from July 8–12 for other business.
The 2020 Green National Convention was originally to be held in Detroit, Michigan, from July9 to 12. However, due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, it was instead decided to conduct the convention online, without a change in date.
General election debatesOn October 11, 2019, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that three general election debates would be held in the fall of 2020. The first is scheduled to take place on September 29, and is being co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. The debate was originally to be hosted at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, but the university decided against holding the debate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. the second is scheduled to take place on October 15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, and the third is scheduled to take place on October 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
The second debate was initially set to be held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but the university withdrew in June 2020, reportedly over concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, one vice presidential debate is scheduled for October 7, 2020, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
|P1||September 29, 2020||Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, Ohio||TBA||President Donald Trump|
Vice President Joe Biden
|VP||October 7, 2020||University of Utah||Salt Lake City, Utah||TBA||Vice President Mike Pence|
|P2||October 15, 2020||Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts||Miami, Florida||TBA||President Donald Trump|
Vice President Joe Biden
|P3||October 22, 2020||Belmont University||Nashville, Tennessee||TBA||President Donald Trump|
Vice President Joe Biden
General election polling
State predictionsMost election predictors use:
- "tossup": no advantage
- "tilt" : advantage that is not quite as strong as "lean"
- "lean": slight advantage
- "likely" or "favored": significant, but surmountable, advantage
- "safe" or "solid": near-certain chance of victory
|Cook||IE||Sabato||Politico||RCP||Niskanen||CNN||The Economist||CBS News||270towin||ABC News|
|District of Columbia||3||D+41||90.9% D|
|Maine||2||D+3||47.8% D||rowspan="3" |
|Nebraska||2||R+14||58.8% R||rowspan="4" |
|New Hampshire||4||47.0% D|
|New Jersey||14||D+7||55.0% D|
|New Mexico||5||D+3||48.4% D|
|New York||29||D+11||59.0% D|
|North Carolina||15||R+3||49.8% R|
|North Dakota||3||R+16||63.0% R|
|Rhode Island||4||D+10||54.4% D|
|South Carolina||9||R+8||54.9% R|
|South Dakota||3||R+14||61.5% R|
|West Virginia||5||R+19||68.5% R|
|Overall||538||D – 308|
R – 187
Tossup – 43
|D – 319|
R – 187
Tossup – 32
|D – 268|
R – 204
Tossup – 66
|D – 268|
R – 203
Tossup – 67
|D – 212|
R – 115
Tossup – 211
|D – 289|
R – 181
Tossup – 68
|D – 232|
R – 205
Tossup – 101
|D – 308|
R – 164
Tossup – 66
|D – 248|
R – 170
Tossup – 120
|D – 278|
R – 169
Tossup – 91
|D – 308|
R – 187
Tossup – 43