Experts: 2020 U.S. presidential election

Published: 2 November 2020

With early voter turnout setting a record and U.S. business districts boarding up for fear of election day unrest, U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden stumped on the campaign's last day on Monday November 2 in states expected to decide who wins. (CBC News)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies

The 2020 US presidential election is far more consequential than academics, surrogates, and pundits have inferred. The United States is headed towards a precipice, regardless of which party wins, because the sectional/sectarian divides are widening by the day.”

Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies and a historian of post-Reconstruction United States, specializing on the African American experience. His research focuses on the intersections of the United States, Canada, and African Diaspora.

wendell.adjetey [at] (English)

Daniel Béland, James McGill Professor, Department of Political Science and Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Canada-US relations have faced daunting challenges since the beginning of the Trump presidency and many Canadians are following very closely the current US presidential campaign a simple reason: because its outcome truly matters for Canada.”

Daniel Béland is the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and James McGill Professor of Political Science. He specializes in the fields of Canadian and comparative politics, as well as the study of public policy, including social policy.

daniel.beland [at] (English, French)

Barry Eidlin, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

The upcoming presidential election is symptomatic of deeper crises facing the US political system. On the Republican side, the pathology is obvious, as Donald Trump has transformed the party into a vehicle for his private enrichment while stoking white nationalism and feeding absurd conspiracy theories. But on the Democratic side, it is also telling that in the year of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, at a time when young leaders are coming to the fore and calls for social justice are growing louder, the party has put forth as its standard-bearers a septuagenarian with an affinity for racist gaffes and a history of favouring big business and “tough on crime” policies, paired with a former prosecutor. Regardless of the outcome on November 3rd, it is unlikely that this deeper crisis of political representation will be resolved. If Trump wins or follows through on his refusal to allow a peaceful transition of power, a new wave of protests is virtually certain. A Biden victory is also unlikely to be willing or able to address the scope of demands that social justice movements and communities ravaged by coronavirus are raising. Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters are unlikely to fade into the woodwork if he loses. The coming months are poised to be both incredibly uncertain and consequential.”

Barry Eidlin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. As a comparative historical sociologist, his research explores the changing relationship between social mobilization, political processes, and ideology in advanced capitalist democracies.

barry.eidlin [at] (English, French)

Mugambi Jouet, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law

America stands far more polarized than other Western democracies. Its intense polarization has old roots. They have not only shaped a striking factual divide, but also conflicting views over issues like the basic role of government, wealth inequality, gender, religion, race, guns, criminal justice, foreign policy, and beyond. Many of these divides are interrelated.”

Mugambi Jouet is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law. His research focuses on criminal justice and comparative government from a multidisciplinary perspective. He is an expert on the distinctive historical evolution of American law, institutions, and sociopolitical culture compared to other Western democracies such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and various European nations.

mugambi.jouet [at] (English, French)

Jacob Levy, Tomlinson Professor, Department of Political Science

Democrats seem poised to take back the White House and probably the Senate while expanding their majority in the House, in a historic repudiation of Donald Trump's presidency. However, the damage Trump has done to American standing in the world, to the rule of law, to constitutional norms, and to the Republican Party will be difficult to undo, and even if he loses, the long transition period in the US means he could still do more harm before he leaves office.”

Jacob Levy is a Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Political Science and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Philosophy. He specializes in contemporary normative political theory, the history of political thought and legal and constitutional theory.

jacob.levy [at] (English)

Jason Opal, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History and Classical Studies

If we put aside all the sound and fury of the past several months, the race is remarkably stable. From the outset, Joe Biden has had a modest lead over Donald Trump. The only change since September has been that Biden's lead has grown, mostly because of Trump's objectively awful handling of the pandemic but also due to the cumulative effect of several stories (The Atlantic piece on Trump's contempt for veterans; The New York Times release of his tax records, etc.). Finally, the COVID-19 outbreak in the White House has deepened the sense among many ‘middle-of-the-road’ voters that America simply requires a return to political normalcy, which Biden embodies. Hence, Biden is likely headed for a decisive win, and only a coordinated and probably violent coup by Trump and his supporters could stop it.”

Jason Opal is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Classical Studies, where he teaches and writes about the US Constitution in different periods of American history. His work tries to integrate social, cultural, and intellectual history and to shed light on such broad topics as nationalism, capitalism, democracy and U.S.-Canada foreign relations.

jason.opal [at] (English, French)

Krzysztof Pelc, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Department of Political Science

The outcome of the popular vote is highly skewed towards Joe Biden, but this says little about what will take place in the days following the election. One striking point is how Democrats themselves seem to agree that they need to win by a sizeable margin to win – not a good sign in a democracy. Even if Biden wins and we see a peaceful transfer of power, this does not mean that the country will go back to where it was in 2016. We can expect to see a different tone from a Biden administration, but it will still have to deal with the same level of polarization, and many of the trends that put Donald Trump in power will likely remain. Moreover, a Biden administration may have a similarly hostile stance towards China and skepticism towards trade openness.”

Krzysztof Pelc is an Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Political Science. His research examines the international political economy, with a focus on international rules.

kj.pelc [at] (English, French)

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