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The US swing states world leaders are (really) watching

Art by Gabriella Turrisi

As American political news junkies get ready for what is expected to be a very long US election night, around the world a select group of world leaders will also be refreshing the FiveThirtyEight homepage with their own interests in mind, scrutinizing incoming results from the electoral college battleground states that will determine whether President Donald Trump is reelected or Joe Biden wins the White House. Let's put you in their shoes.


If you're Vladimir Putin, this year feels different. You're not as involved as you were in 2016, and you don't hate Joe Biden nearly as much as you despise Hillary Clinton. But still, you'll be keeping an eye on Pennsylvania, which will likely be the last swing state to count all its votes, because at the end of the day you don't want either candidate to win outright. You crave confusion, chaos, and court battles that'll further erode trust in the US election system.

On the other hand, if you're Xi Jinping, you don't want civil unrest to delay the result. You like your five-year plans, and you want to know ASAP which US leader you'll be working with for the next four years. Although it won't make much of a difference these days now that Democrats and Republicans agree that you're bad for America, you've spent weeks analyzing demographic shifts in the Atlanta suburbs to figure out whether the GOP will hold Georgia. If it does and Trump gets reelected, you know he'll be tough(er) on China. But he won't bring many European and Asian friends to the fight, unlike Biden who plans to get everybody who has a beef with you on the same page.

If you're Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, in Great Satan's election you're rooting for Biden — the devil you've known longer, the one you know you can make a new (nuclear) deal with. That's why you'll be tracking turnout in Arizona's Maricopa County, the exact spot you think might put Biden over the top. Then you'll have your own election to worry about next year (a hardliner victory will make that deal a bit harder to pull off, though).

Deal-making is also on your mind if you're Boris Johnson. As the UK's prime minister, you'll be watching — under lockdown in Downing Steet — early returns from Macomb County, where unexpected mass turnout by Trump voters could keep Michigan red. That may improve your odds of signing a trade agreement with the US in the near term, which Biden might not entertain unless you back down on a no-deal Brexit. On the flip side, do you really want four more years of Trump's diplomatic "capriciousness"?

Now, imagine you're Narendra Modi obsessing over voter turnout in North Carolina's "research triangle" in Chapel Hill-Durham-Raleigh, where many Indian Americans have landed top-notch IT jobs. Although almost three quarters of them will be voting for Biden, you're torn between the candidate who will give more H1-B visas to India's best and brightest, and a kindred spirit in your dislike of China and Muslims.

If you're Jair Bolsonaro, you'll be looking for the latest data from Florida's famously competitive Miami-Dade County, where you hope your fellow Latinos will come out in droves for Trump. After all you're one of only a handful of world leaders who have endorsed your buddy — and you've got a lot riding on his reelection. You're wary of Biden, who won't let you get away with destroying the Amazon rainforest, nor take kindly to your anti-LGBTQ tirades.

Finally, picture yourself as chain-smoking Kim Jong-un, bespectacled eyes glued to your ultrawide flatscreen TV in your sumptuous Pyongyang palace, hoping suburban women in Wisconsin won't abandon Trump like most polls say they will. You need someone to talk to, and don't expect Biden to respond to your letters, let alone meet with you like Trump (although Joe probably won't even try to talk you into giving up North Korea's nukes).

For more from our extremely nervous world leaders, follow us on Twitter, where we hear there may be a US election night hostile takeover by Puppet Regime....

Dating and debates, music festivals and dance classes, work and education – an increasing amount of our social interactions now take place online. With this shift to virtual venues, ensuring kindness and respect in everyday interactions and encounters is more important than ever.

The digital space has become a fundamental part of the national and international conversation, and has also, at times, become a breeding ground for bullying, trolling and hate speech. There is a clear need for more "digital good" to ensure that online encounters have a constructive impact on everyone involved. To learn more about digital good and what it means, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

As the global vaccination race heats up, the most populous country in the world is trying to do three very hard things at once.

India, grappling with the second highest confirmed COVID caseload in the world, recently embarked on what it called "the world's largest" coronavirus vaccination campaign, seeking to inoculate a sizable swath of its 1.4 billion people.

That alone would be a herculean challenge, but India is also making hundreds of millions of jabs as part of the global COVAX initiative to inoculate low-income countries. And as if those two things weren't enough, Delhi also wants to win hearts and minds by doling out millions more shots directly to other countries in its neighborhood.

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Millions of people leave their home countries each year, fleeing conflict or violence, seeking better work opportunities, or simply to be closer to family. What proportion of those people are women? In many of the countries that are home to the largest migrant populations, a majority, in fact. While many women leave home for the same reasons as men (social instability or economic opportunity) gender-based violence or persecution often play a special role in women's decisions to pick up stakes and move. Here's a look at the gender breakdown of some of the world's largest migrant populations.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is an unusual politician. The 39-year old political outsider boasts of his political triumphs on TikTok, dons a suave casual uniform (backwards-facing cap; leather jacket; tieless ), and refuses to abide by Supreme Court rulings.

Bukele also enjoys one of the world's highest approval ratings, and that's what helped his New Ideas party clinch a decisive victory in legislative elections on February 28, securing a close to two-third's supermajority (75 percent of the vote had been counted at the time of this writing).

His triumph will resonate far beyond the borders of El Salvador, Central America's smallest country, home to 6.5 million people. Now that Bukele has consolidated power in a big way, here are a few key developments to keep an eye on.

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (a little over) 60 Seconds:

The Biden administration announced its first sanctions. How will it affect US-Russia relations?

Not very much. About as bad as they were under the Trump administration, even though Trump personally wanted to be aligned with Putin, the administration was not. This is the same approach on sanctions as we've seen from the European Union, they could go a lot harder. It's not sector level. It's not major state enterprises. It's a few Russian officials that were involved in the chemical program for Russia. And at the end of the day, the Russians are annoyed, but they're not going to hit back. That's that. Okay.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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