What We're Watching: A nail-biter for the Senate, the losers' future, Trump's baseless claims

People stand next to a screen displaying a U.S. flag in Times Square during the 2020 U.S. presidential election in New York City, New York, U.S. November 4, 2020.

Control of the US Senate: For months, the Democrats expressed cautious optimism about retaking the Senate, which they will need in order to pass key legislation on healthcare, immigration, and climate change. A strong show in the Senate races would also give Democrats a good chance of regaining full control of the federal government — the House of Representatives, Senate, and the presidency — for the first time in a decade. While the Democrats picked up a coveted seat in the battleground state of Arizona, results remain in flux in closely watched races in Georgia, North Carolina, and Maine. Meanwhile, Democratic losses in Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas mean that even if they do squeak out control of the Senate for the first time since 2014, it will be with an extremely slim majority. This means that even if Joe Biden does win the presidency, he will have a hard time getting his legislative agenda through a Senate with a heavy Republican presence. At the time of this writing, Republicans and Democrats are at 47 seats a piece, with six spots still up in the air. More results will trickle out in the hours and days ahead, but either way, it's clear that the US Senate race did not amount to the "blue wave" (53 seats) that Democrats had been hoping for.


The future of the losing party: The losing party in the US election always faces a bit of an existential reckoning about what it did wrong and how to become more competitive next time around. How might that look this year? The stakes don't seem equal. Even if Trump loses by a hair, his better-than-expected performance shows that his brand of conservative populist nationalism is very popular — he is on track to get more popular votes than in 2016 — and it will continue to exercise broad influence over Republican politics, with 2024 hopefuls such as senators Tom Cotton or Josh Hawley, and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley waiting for Trump's blessing to throw their hats in the ring. On the other hand, a shock Biden defeat will be crushing for the Democrats, who will have failed to unseat the president despite having spent four years training their fire on his erratic and divisive leadership, and more recently his mismanagement of the pandemic. The Dems are already increasingly split between centrist moderates and the activist progressive wing of the party. Given the realities of the electoral college, which forces Democrats to win votes in several large battleground states, will they double down on centrism but with a stronger candidate, or will they opt for a progressive populist who can dent some of Trump's appeal among working-class voters and turn out a large base of their own (like many believe Bernie Sanders could have done)? Either way, if Biden loses the Democratic Party is in for some major existential angst.

What We're Ignoring:

Trump's "victory" speech: With some incomplete battleground results going his way, President Trump broke US election night tradition by prematurely and unilaterally declaring victory and calling for "all voting to stop." He claimed wins in Georgia and North Carolina while millions of votes are still being counted there, and said that he's "on track" to win Pennsylvania even though the Keystone State's final tally may not be known until Friday. He also claimed, without evidence, that many of his voters had been disenfranchised, and vowed to take any contested result all the way to the Supreme Court, where after the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett conservatives now hold an ample 6-3 majority. We're ignoring Trump's speech because there is no legal basis for the Supreme Court to stop counting votes that were already cast according to the rules set by each state (which even his buddy, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, recognized when criticizing Trump's move).

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal