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Podcast: What Could Go Wrong in the US Election? Rick Hasen on Nightmare Scenarios and Challenges


Listen: The end is nigh! With just days to go (hours, really) until voting concludes for the 2020 US election, many Americans are losing sleep over the various ways that things could go wrong on Election Day and in the days and weeks to follow (it may be time to retire that term "Election Day," given that most states won't finish their ballot counting on November 3rd). Ian Bremmer takes those fears head-on with election law expert Rick Hasen. They talk about how voter suppression, administrative incompetence, and/or dirty tricks by foreign actors could affect this year's election.

Election Night: Key states to watch & record-shattering voter turnout

Jon Lieber, Managing Director for the United States at the Eurasia Group, shares his perspective on a special US election edition of US Politics In 60 Seconds:

So, we're about five days out from the election right now.

And the story of this week has been the remarkably steady polling lead for Joe Biden that he's had for months now. The other big story is the turnout, massive amounts of turnout. 100% of the 2016 vote already cast in Texas. 60% nationwide votes already cast. We are headed for record shattering turnout, could be around 155 million Americans voting.

On election night, what are we watching for?

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Most world leaders hope for Biden victory; Amy Coney Barrett sworn in

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

One week before the US election. What do other world leaders want to happen?

Well, I mean, let's face it. Outside the United States, most of the world's leaders would prefer to see the back of Trump. An America first policy was not exactly made for non-Americans. That was not the intended demographic audience. Trump doesn't really care. In fact, to a degree, it's kind of a selling point that a lot of foreign leaders don't want Trump. It's showing that Trump is strong in negotiations and indeed is doing better for the American people.

That's largely BS, but occasionally it's true. I mean, his willingness to use American power to force the Mexican government to actually tighten up on Mexico's Southern border and stop immigration from coming through. AMLO would have much rather that not have happened, but the fact that it did was an America first policy, that rebounded to the benefits of the United States. And there are other examples of that. But generally speaking, it would be better for the US long-term, and for the world, if we had more harmonious, smoother relations with other countries around the world, certainly pretty much all the Europeans would much rather see Trump lose. The United Kingdom is the significant exception given the nature of Brexit, and the fact that Trump has been in favor of that, like being called Mr. Brexit by five or six Brits or however many did.

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Barrett hearing reflects Supreme Court polarization; predicting US voter turnout

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the latest in US politics:

What has been most revealing to you about the Amy Coney Barrett hearing so far?

Well, what was interesting about them to me was how nakedly political they are. Normally, you have at least the pretense of probing the justice's judicial philosophy, trying to figure out where they stand relative on the political spectrum. But here, you know, the Republicans know they have a vote, so it's largely been cheerleading. And the Democrats have been running what looks like a political campaign, asking questions about the Affordable Care Act, bringing up constituent stories of people who are going to be affected should the Supreme Court knock it down in a way that just is really unusual for Supreme Court. I think that just reflects the polarization of the court and political polarization more generally.

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Supreme Court vacancy turns US election on its head

News broke across the United States on Friday evening that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, ending her long and distinguished career as a jurist. Tributes poured in quickly from men and women on both sides of the political spectrum. But just as quickly, her death has sharply raised the stakes for the upcoming US elections for president and the Senate, as well as the longer-term ideological balance of the nation's top court.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing could upend the presidential election

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on the biggest development in US politics this week:

So, the scriptwriters for 2020 have thrown as a real curveball, introducing the most explosive element in US politics, just six weeks before the election. The tragic death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who will be remembered as a trailblazing jurist, but also a reliably liberal vote on a court that was divided along ideological lines with a five-four conservative majority. This has the potential to upend the presidential election. And likely will motivate turnout on both sides. But also, importantly for president, Trump could remind some Romney voting ex-Republicans who were leaning towards Biden why they were Republicans in the first place. Which means that it has the potential to push some persuadable voters back towards the president.

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Countdown to the (possibly contested) US election

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Normalcy is incrementally coming to the United States, if not yet to a lot of developing markets, but certainly to Europe, certainly to China. And I haven't spent a lot of time talking about the US election yet, certainly nothing close to the media coverage. I thought I would today because we've got 99 days until November 3rd. You say 100 days yesterday, sounds like a bigger deal, but that's only because we have a base 10 numeric system. If we had a base three numeric system, 99 days out would be pretty meaningful, right? But no, I thought let's finally, right, we've got these massive, incredibly expensive, billions of dollars spent, a year and a half of the entire process, I mean, by far a greater subversion of democracy, the way the US elections are held than any other advanced industrial democracy in the world. We all know it. Democrats, Republicans, people sick of the party system. We all recognize nothing can be done about it. It's fantastic for special interests that spend an immense amount of money trying to ensure that candidates do their bidding. But now that we are only 99 days out, political polls really do start to matter. We know who the candidates are on both sides. We don't yet have the V.P. on the Biden side. But still, I mean, we're pretty close. 100 days out, 99 days out, you feel like you can start paying attention.

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Key Supreme Court decisions; how coronavirus impacts US election

Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

How is coronavirus jeopardizing the legitimacy of a 2020 presidential election?

Well, what coronavirus is doing is a lot of states are worrying about people who aren't going to want to come to the polling places in the fall, and they're worried about a shortage of polling workers who are going to want to come out and volunteer to get sick by interacting with a bunch people in person. So, what they're doing is they're looking at making a shift to vote-by-mail. Most states allow some form of absentee balloting today. Five states just automatically mail you a ballot and they don't do any in-person voting. But the challenge here is that a lot of states are unprepared for the sharp increase that's expected. In the last election, 25% of ballots were cast by mail. You may see 50, 60 or even more percent of ballots cast by mail this time, which could overwhelm election administration, which happens at the state level.

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