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Inside the Statehouse

STEVE FLOWERS: The presidential race is underway (column)


Steve Flowers served 16 years in the state Legislature. Reach him

Now that the national political party conventions are over and the nominees have been coronated, the battle royale for the White House is in full throttle. 

The nominees, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, will shatter the age barrier. Whoever is elected will be the oldest person ever elected president. If Donald Trump is re-elected, he will be 75 when sworn in. If Joe Biden wins, he will be close to 79.

When I was a young man, folks at that age were in the nursing home if they were alive. By comparison, 60 years ago when John Kennedy was elected, he was 42.

If by chance, you are worried about their traversing all over the 50 states and keeling over in the process, calm your fears. Trump will campaign in only about 10-12 states, and Biden will campaign in probably only two.  

Why, you might ask? There are only 10-12 states that matter in a presidential contest.

Under our Electoral College system, the candidate who gets one more popular vote than the other gets all of that state’s electoral votes.

The country is divided like never before in our history. You either live in a red Republican state, like Alabama, or a blue Democratic state, like California. You might say the hay is in the barn in all but about 10 battleground swing states. 

Our national politics have become so partisan and divided with such a vociferous divide that old Joe Biden will carry California by a 60-40 margin, and Donald Trump will carry Alabama by a 60-40 margin. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, Alabama only has nine electoral votes, whereas California has 55.

The election is won or lost in the swing states like Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is in these six states that all of the campaign money will be spent and where the two aged candidates might campaign. 

It will all boil down to certain zip codes in these six states. Current polling has Biden ahead of Trump in most of the battleground states.

President Donald Trump for the first three years of his presidency reigned over a tremendous economic boom. He had a fighting chance at re-election based on one factor: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

All that changed in March. The coronavirus pandemic hit our nation and devastated our national economy. All of the growth of three years has been devastated. 

During the same month of March, the aging Democrat, Joe Biden, captured the Democratic nomination from the Socialist, Bernie Sanders.

Under the Electoral College system, President Trump has to carry most of the key battleground states in order to win. Current polling has Biden ahead of Trump in most, if not all the pivotal swing states because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When the economy was busting through the roof, Trump could claim credit for the thriving economy. Likewise, the economic recession caused by the coronavirus is not Trump’s fault. However, it happened under his watch. There is a tried and true political maxim, “If you claim credit for the rain, then you're gonna get the blame for the drought.”

There is also a cardinal rule in politics. All politics is local. Folks, Joe Biden was born and raised in Pennsylvania, in the blue-collar city of Scranton to be exact.  Even if Trump were to miraculously carry all five of the large, pivotal states, he will have a hard time carrying Pennsylvania.

I know most of you reading this do not like to hear this dour outlook for Trump. However, there is hope.  

First of all, I am pretty good at predicting and analyzing Alabama political races; not so much when it comes to national politics. In fact, I am usually wrong.

Another golden, proven caveat in politics, they only count the votes of the people who show up to vote. Older voters tend to be Republican and older voters are the ones that show up to vote.

We will see in six short weeks.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist.  His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers.  He served 16 years in the state legislature.  Steve may be reached