The outcome of the US presidential election has been interpreted from different angles by different governments and observers. Angles vary according to each party’s interests and priorities with respect to US positions, policies and strategies.
This explains the stark contrast in how the results of the election were received. Satisfaction was there, as well as anxiety, and even theatricalization of the US electoral process, calling it “theater” and other qualifiers that do not befit the world’s most heated electoral battle.
Objectively, the results of this electoral race, unprecedented in terms of the circumstances and nature of the political conflict it witnessed, reveal some elements.
One, the outcome of this vote deals a heavy blow to the opinion poll industry in a country that many studies and researches describe as the world’s most democratic. Regrettably, the polls were unable to predict the outcome of the election, although they did give President-elect Joe Biden an edge in most cases.
The reason is simple: the majority of polls gave Joe Biden a remarkable 512-point lead. This meant that the race would have been decided by a comfortable margin.
That didn’t happen. The scores remained tight for many days while waiting for the vote count in swing states, where there were minimal differentials between the two candidates, with the exception of some states where President Trump got a fairly strong lead.
This is not the first time that polls have been wrong about the outcome of the US presidential election. A major flop came in 2016, when Hillary Clinton ran against Donald Trump.
These are indicators that call for rethinking the rules and standards for conducting polls and addressing their shortcomings. This is especially true for the undecided electorate, as well as for bias in voting intentions and actual trends, as new respondents sometimes give different opinions from their true orientations.
Such misinformation is tough to spot or prevent. But there is a need for a statistical and scientific process that adds credibility to survey results, because this major industry is a linchpin of the Western democratic process.
Second point: the status of President Trump; it is difficult to say that this is a fleeting phenomenon in American political life. About half of the American electorate voted for President Trump. In other words, they support both his attitudes, positions and views on domestic and foreign policy.
So we can speak of a growing trend among American voters who will be looking for a replacement for President Trump in any future election. His popularity has also played into the Republican score in the Senate elections. This is interesting for those who believe that President Trump is a temporary or exceptional figure in the American political landscape.
All analyses that said he failed to manage domestic and foreign policy to the point of crushing defeat have been disproved. What happened was that he remained a strong contender and even a potential winner with everyone holding their breath waiting for the final word on this incredible showdown .
The lesson is that the world must prepare for a new America in the decades to come. Trump’s positions on international institutions and agreements could happen again.
The US isolationist approach could not be sustained if President Trump’s loss of this election becomes final. But isolationism is rooted in American political discourse and has many supporters among politicians and ordinary Americans alike. Indeed, there is now what can be described as a Trumpian undercurrent in American politics, especially within the Republican Party.
The third point is the idea that President-elect Biden would reverse all of President Trump’s policies and return to a similar political line to that of former President Barack Obama, for whom he served as VP. This idea is more of a wishful thinking than a reality.
Basically, every president has his own style, even if he is a former vice-president. Before, Biden had to commit to the political line drawn by the president, not his. Besides, many developments have taken place and the matter is not as easy as some people imagine.
The new president cannot overturn all of the former president’s decisions with a flick of the wrist. There are strategic interests of the superpower and the constitutional institutions that manage and influence policy.
It would be complicated for a president to overstep the red lines drawn by national security institutions to protect national interests. We can imagine there are strategies defined by the institutions and tactics that each president adopts according to his political approach.
For example, we know that Trump and Biden share the same position on the Iranian nuclear threat. However, their tactics to contain this threat differ.
Trump has played the policy of maximum sanctions and Biden has promised to go back to the nuclear deal. But the fact of the matter is that the latter will return only with new conditions and negotiations that will contain this menace.
Tactics diverge but the strategy is the same. This does not prevent a president from leaving his own distinct imprint, such as President Trump’s exit from some international agreements such as the Paris Agreement. But I am sure that such decisions are made in agreement with national security institutions, as part of long-term political efforts to gain concessions or achieve strategic objectives.
Dr. Salem Al Ketbi is aUAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate