The 2020 election cycle just keeps getting more expensive. Joe Biden set the record on Friday for the most money spent on television and advertising by a presidential candidate, a staggering $582 million.

 

Taking a momentary pause with a disciplined tone and political conduct at the third Presidential Debate in Tennessee, both President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are back to bombing each other with political vitriolic. With under 10 days to go until Election Day, Trump is focused on hitting where it hurts Biden the most—putting the spotlight on Biden’s family and his personal financial dealings involving his son Hunter Biden. Also, he’s taking on the Democratic Presidential nominee on the latter’s energy policy, alleging his challenger will again send “millions of jobs to overseas energy companies in the name of clean climate policy”.

In the last week of the election campaign, President Trump is back to his 2016 poll strategy—dig out “personal dirt against his opponents” as we saw what the emails did to Hillary Clinton. Poor Hillary! She had started celebrating and deciding on administrative portfolios even before the result. And now Biden is in line to face the strategic “Trump tactics”, threatening to worsen near the elections. President Trump, who reportedly is not happy with his team for not digging out enough scoops and scams this time, has given “an ultimatum” to dig out more on Hillary Clinton, on President Barack Obama and his challenger Joe Biden and his family’s financial dealings to keep the heat on.  Not to miss, he is equally focused in his attacks on the US media calling it biased and of treating him unfairly.

Biden is not letting go either in the last few days and is keeping up with his anti-Trump rant on the President’s poor handling of the Covid pandemic, including slamming Trump’s unjustified defiance against healthcare guidelines, which eventually turned the White House into a super spreader for coronavirus. The urgency to nail Trump is ticking for Biden as the poll surveys show a clear shrinkage in his ratings last week, with the undecided voters may be making the difference. In many key states like Florida, Michigan, Texas and Pennsylvania, the two are tied and Biden urgently needs to win back the fast slipping hold on Latinos (Hispanics), Blacks and elderly White voters. Biden’s campaign, which has made “no strategy and no fuss from here” after the Cleveland debate and Trump testing positive, is back to some on-field show and voter interaction.

Obama is in the field to boost Biden’s campaign, seeking support among crucial Black voters and liberal-Democrats. So is Biden’s running mate and California Senator Kamala Harris, who seems to have realised that over 1% Indian American vote bank is not a priority for her compared to the near 15% Afro-American voters. Harris was in Atlanta in a reach-out to Black voters, calling President Donald Trump a racist.

The US media has reported “without bias” that Trump is aggressively courting Black voters and Harris is making inroads into those sections that might be considering voting for the President’s re-election. With polls showing Biden and Trump tied in Georgia, the urgency to win back the Blacks is telling on Harris, who urged the crowd to honour civil rights leaders by voting.

Apart from personal political games going on in full swing, indicators are promising this will be “an unusual election”. Going by media reports on early voting, more than 52 million people have already voted, and elections experts predict historic rates of turnout this cycle.

It’s possible that 85 million people could vote before 3 November, with 150 million voting in total. This would mean an eligible voter turnout rate of more than 62%. Some even say that it may cross 200 million voters finally casting the ballot, making it “unprecedented and unpredictable”.

Poll analysts, who see the surge being the maximum between the Presidential elections of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016, cite the pages of history from the 1800s, when the US presidential election saw this type of political suffrage and participation. The reason is, “let’s go out and vote as if something is on stake” is on top of the minds of voters, many of whom are swept away by the wave of polarization, something only blamed on “third world countries like India by the western media”. This time it is beyond White, property owning American voters. It is for all to make a difference. Perhaps Trump has got the whiff of American nationalism, and is accommodative enough to include Blacks and Latinos in his MAGA (Make America Great Again) song now turning the tide against Biden. Surely President Trump has come back from his corona infection regaining some lost ground in key battleground states. Also his popularity ratings are showing better results. He has covered up his pandemic failure’s poor score with economic revival and stimulus package benefits, but nothing is sure as yet and no political pundit can give either of the candidates a clear victory as of today.

Ten days to go and it promises to be more mud-slinging, personal accusations, possibly more video clips in public domain and interestingly the “divided” US media taking their own takes on candidates as their editorial boards stamp their endorsements—something unusual for Indian media, to take “political sides” openly, a lesson we didn’t learn in the Democracy chapters from our “Western Masters”!

Some indicators are already out as how this will pan out the next week. Trump’s efforts to turn the spotlight on Biden’s family and his personal financial dealings began even before the debate got underway. He invited Tony Bobulinski as his special guest. The former Naval lieutenant apparently managed Hunter Biden’s foreign business portfolio for a time. That was the message as what’s coming up for Biden and his family and what media reports as on Saturday, already the FBI is in possession of the laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden which allegedly contained emails revealing details of his foreign business dealings, including contacts in Ukraine and China, the Fox News reported on Friday. The focus on Biden’s family is not going away. Trump appears hell bent on making it a central focus of his campaign in the final days before 3 November despite many Republicans not approving this step by the President and his Campaign. But Trump is what we all know. He takes and makes it personal with friends and foes.

And going by even the latest campaign funding data, is this an indicator that Trump is getting back to light again? Media reports confirmed that the Trump campaign announced Friday it had its best online fundraising day ever on the day of the debate, combining with the Republican National Committee to bring in $26 million.

But he has failed to beat his challenger Biden in overall advertisement campaign spending. The 2020 election cycle just keeps getting more expensive. Joe Biden set the record on Friday for the most money spent on television and advertising by a presidential candidate—a staggering $582 million. Biden’s spending is more than President Trump’s re-election campaign spending, about $342 million on advertising over the past two years.

Will the millions of dollars spent in accusatory advertisements, and not raising many critical issues instead, matter? Or will it be personal traits again playing the trick on the grand finale on 3 November? We have to wait and watch every step these two take in the race for White House 2020.