Florida Journalists Weigh in on the Pandemic Presidential race

Although election day was Tuesday, Nov. 3 ballots are still being counted across the country and a winner has not yet been declared. Tensions remain high as American citizens wait to find out whether President Donald Trump or Vice President Joseph Biden will be declared the winner of the 2020 election.

Trump’s campaign focused on the concept of “law and order” in regards to the Kenosha incident and violent looting across the country, sparked by the death of George Floyd in late May. This campaign targeted white voters through racist fears by using key buzzwords like “quiet neighborhoods,” “crime,” and “inner cities,” according to the Guardian.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

“It started with protesters not liking the president. Then, Republicans started to denounce the Black Lives Matter Movement. Suddenly both sides were mad at each other,” said CBS 12 NewsEmmy Award winning reporter Jay O’Brien, as he referred to the deep division between Republicans and Democrats. O’Brien said he is an independent, not affiliated with a party and focuses on politics, investigative reporting and history.

There have been nearly 17 million coronavirus cases in the United States since the virus arrived in January of 2020, and over 300,000 Americans who have died from the disease. This was the center of Democratic candidate Biden’s campaign: Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden has called for a national mask mandate and increased COVID-19 testing.

Recently, former journalist Bob Woodward released an interview he conducted with Trump in February in which the President admitted that coronavirus is “deadly stuff,” but that he still “wanted to play it down.” Trump said he planned to remain silent about the risks and dangers of the virus in order to avoid chaos throughout the country.

“Trump’s management is disgusting. He hid things that he knew, has no regard for human life and is only worried about his image,” said Maria Pardo, a mother and student at the English Language Institute and graduate of the University of Andes for Journalism in Colombia.

Before the election, national polls indicated that voters favored Biden over Trump, but it will come down to the votes of the electoral college that helped Trump secure victory four years ago. Research shows that Americans do not necessarily vote for Biden to show support for him specifically, but instead they want to vote for anyone but Trump.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

The support of rural voters that Trump had in 2016 remains. Trump also generated support from white voters without a college degree in 2016. However, Trump’s support among this group has diminished from 45 percent to 41 percent, NPR and Brookings Institution data says. At the same time, support from other eligible voters such as Whites with a college degree, Asian Americans, Latinos, and other ethnicity groups have increased.

“Trump intends to capture suburban voters from swing states,” said O’Brien before the election. “We do not know if it is working. A lot of voters resonate with it, while there are also some we speak to where it is not getting through. The message is effective for a certain portion of people we talk to.”

According to the Economist prediction models, before the election, Joe Biden had a 90 percent chance of winning the electoral college, while Trump has 10 percent chance. Biden is most likely to win Eastern states like New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, while Trump takes on southeastern inland states like Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama and Indiana.

Both candidates plan to implement infrastructure bills worth more than $1 trillion. Democrats seek infrastructure spending in coronavirus stimulus bills, while Republicans do not. Trump wants to implement a $2 trillion plan that acts as a coronavirus relief package and an infrastructure bill, however, has not announced any specifics.

“Trump’s been great for the economy. If Biden was President during the pandemic, lots of people would have been out of jobs and even become homeless,” said Max Ziffer, graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Multimedia Journalism and now a Marketing Manager in South Florida.

In contrast, Biden’s $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan focuses on climate change and covers over 10 years with the goal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within the US and create more jobs, especially in the middle class. The plan distinguishes $400 billion for spending on an innovative federal program for clean energy and research innovation, $100 billion to upgrade schools, $50 billion for restoring highways, roads and bridges, $20 billion for infrastructure of rural broadband and $10 billion to aid high-poverty neighborhoods by providing them with increased transportation services, according to Investopedia.

Biden also supports “Medicare for All” with a public option and lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60, as well as the expansion of the Affordable Care Act. On the contrary, Trump wants to cut Medicare and Medicaid spending and promised to decrease drug prices, although he has yet to do so.

Critics emphasize that President Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, the first two years of his presidency. He also didn’t pay any income taxes in 10 of 15 previous years by reporting losing more money than he made, the New York Times reports. In contrast, a schoolteacher pays approximately $7,239 in federal income taxes while firefighters pay about $5,328, according to PolitiFact.

Trump’s intent to form a trade relationship with China resulted in a trade war due to imposed tariffs of $550 billion on Chinese imports, which China retaliated for with $185 billion of tariffs on U.S. goods, resulting in the loss of 300,000 American jobs, according to a September 2019 Moody’s Analytics study. Furthermore, a 2019 Bloomberg Economics report predicts a loss of $1.7 trillion in stocks for US companies and a cost of $316 billion for the US economy by the end of 2020.

Throughout the pandemic, Trump has withheld entry from many immigrants and foreign workers that strove for permanent residency through Green Cards. Trump introduced a public health emergency policy that is meant to quickly deport migrants like asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, which contradicts standard legal legislations. In July, he also announced that he would restrict entry of foreign students to the US, a policy which was later revoked. Biden, however, supports the stay of international students due to the possibility of increased innovation.

“Trump mistreats immigrants, especially the most vulnerable. He hates people from other cultures. There should be a reform for immigration which includes respect and decency. Biden is the only one who can beat Trump. He’s the one who can bring people together again,” said Pardo.

The United States has almost never before found itself in a state of such political unrest and division between Americans. The deaths of Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others has raised racial tensions, and the coronavirus has caused chaos across the entire globe. Many Americans turned to the recent election as a way to make their voices heard.

“It’s going to take people of every level of government to fix the issue. You should change the law in favor of people, while all branches of government work together, which will take a few years,” said CBS 12 News reporter Stefany Valderrama, covering Palm Beach and Treasure Coast in South Florida.

It is up to the American people to decide which candidate has the potential and integrity to rebuild our country and unite us once again. Though results are not yet final, the election is well underway, and soon we will know who the next President of the United States will be.

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Multimedia Journalism Major with a Communications Minor at Florida Atlantic University

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Kim Wright

Multimedia Journalism Major with a Communications Minor at Florida Atlantic University