The US has an election this November, with the possibility of the winner being decided by the US congress, and not by the election itself. I am even going to suggest this is the most likely of all outcomes. How this is even possible, as well as how each outcome would change the world is discussed below.
No individual scenario is in any way assured, but here are the four possibilities, in order of my estimate of their likelihood:
- A disputed election resulting in congress choosing Donald Trump as president (35% chance?)
- democracy worldwide is impacted
- Joe Biden wins the election despite disputes (30% chance?)
- with a negative and potentially violent backlash
- Donald Trump wins narrowly wins the election (25% chance?)
- with half a nation in shock, many do not accept the result.
- A clear and undisputed victory to Biden or Trump because either:
- Donald Trump having Covid-19 and being too unwell
- Biden having Covid-1 and being too unwell
- some other new factor makes the election a non-event
A Disputed Election Decided By Congress.
At this time I predict a likelihood of Biden winning the vote, and then the election being challenged by Trump as being at least as high as 65%. Will the protests by Trump succeed in preventing Biden reaching 270 college votes by December 14? I think that is quite possible, leaving Biden winning the election but protests by Trump blocking the reaching of 270 votes by the deadline my prediction as a likely outcome, at around a 1 in 3 chance.
If neither candidate reaches 270 electoral college votes by the deadline of December 14, then the determination of the president ‘goes back to congress’, under a system that would ensure Trump should win.
For neither candidate to reach 270, then one or more states must have a result in dispute past the deadline, preventing the electoral college votes of those states being included in the count, which could mean neither candidate reaches 270 votes. Understanding that this is even possible, requires considering that like the EU presidency today, the US states forming the federation of states thought in terms of a central government primarily determining how the states work together, and that just as France or Germany today sees their own leader as more important than the head of the EU, member states of the United States, initially saw the US president as potentially being determined by a majority of the states deciding who best represents the interests of all states.
This exact scenario has happened previously.
Further, the strategy of Donald Trump in doing all possible to create a scenario of disputed election results, has contemplated this scenario.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly declined to say whether he would support an orderly transfer of power if he does not win re-election, and he has spent months stoking doubt in the election process by falsely insisting — against evidence offered by his own government officials — that mail-in ballots are subject to widespread fraud.NY TImes
The election being determined by congress, is clearly in Trumps thoughts.
“I don’t want to end up in the Supreme Court, and I don’t want to go back to Congress, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress. Does everyone understand that?” Mr. Trump told supporters. “I think it’s 26 to 22 or something.”
“It’s counted one code per state,” he said. “So we actually have an advantage. Oh, they’re going to be thrilled to hear that. I’m sure they’re trying to figure out, ‘How can we break that one?’”
Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to what is known as a contingent election, in which the House of Representatives chooses the next president if no candidate wins an absolute majority of votes in the Electoral College — an outcome that would be more likely if the results in key states were in dispute. In that case, each state’s House delegation is given one vote, with 26 votes required to win.
Even though the majority in congress is held by Democrats, that is party due to large states such as California with 40 million people and I believe as a result 54 congress representatives, while Republicans hold less populous states such as Alaska with around 1/54th of that population (700,000) has only 1 congress representative, but Alaska gets the same voting power as California in determining a president by congress.
The current predicted outcome at the time of writing by CNN is Biden with 269 likely college votes, and needing only one ‘electoral college vote’ from the 7 ‘yellow states’ in the diagram below to become president. Trump would need to protest any of the ‘yellow states’ looks like losing from the election. Or protest some of these states, and on state otherwise regarded as ‘blue’, and take those votes out of the total. Perhaps 4 states with votes blocked by legal action is required. The closer Trump is to winning, the smaller the number of states, and most elections are determined by only one or two votes, despite once sidedness of polls prior to the election.
I rated the ‘decided by congress’, as a result of disputed counts meaning neither Biden does not reach the 270 number the most likely outcome, but still only a 35 percent chance. From the vote itself my estimate is approximately 65% chance of Biden winning, but without a complete landslide. In the absence of a complete landslide, Trump disputing the result, and encouraging supporters towards unrest brings this scenario into play. Action by Trump and republicans being slightly more likely than not to ensure some states cannot declare undisputed results by the deadline.
Imagine the unrest to follow an election result determined by disputes that block entire states from being included in the count. Trump as president over a nation with little faith in the democratic process, and the rule of law.
Joe Biden wins the election despite the disputes.
I suggest this is almost as likely as Trump managing to use to disputes to send the election to congress to decide. However, once things reach the point of disputes being seen as determining the election result, there will be riots and very likely there will be violence from some Trump supporters.
Donald Trump Narrowly Wins the Election.
The electoral college system does favour the republicans at this time due to a stronger vote from rural, sparsely populated areas. This is not an injustice, the greater weighting for the minority is designed as a protection for that minority, designed to prevent the minority being ignored. The fact that this is the electoral college system working does not stop complaints of ‘my candidate won the popular vote but lost the election’! In the most polarised America ever, and in the midst of ‘black lives matter’ campaigns, there will be riots protesting the result even if Trump wins, unless Trump is a clear winner and also wins the popular vote.
Americans, on a large scale protesting the result of their election.
Covid-19 or other Factors result in a Clear Winner
Firstly, the breaking news at the time of writing this is that Donald Trump has been now confirmed as infected with Covid-19. It is even possible Trump was infectious at the debate, and infected Biden. Possible, but unlikely. Just as it is possible Trump will be too unwell to campaign or stand for election. Again, possible but unlikely. The mortality rating from Covid-19 for a 74 year old (Trump) I have heard quoted at between 5 and 12 percent of confirmed cases. Of course, given that not all cases are detected, with a heavy weighting to cases without symptoms being undetected, the actual mortality rate is likely to be lower. Further as I have stated previously, Covid-19 is not binary! How present the disease is in the environment where it was contracted will contribute to how bad a case of Covid-19 is likely to be. Pick up an infection in a hospital full of Covid-19 cases and you are likely to have a worse case than for the circumstances where Trump was likely infected. So almost certainly a low risk of becoming a fatality, and probably well below 5%. But that is not the only risk. There is a far greater risk that Trump will be symptomatic, perhaps more close to 10 percent, and given his stance on Covid-19, and the impact of his being ill on the campaign, then combined with the factor that either Trump or Biden could become ill for other reasons or encounter another problem that creates a problem, and there is a real chance the election will have a clear winner. Perhaps as high as a 10% chance. In this case, there would be no ‘world changing’ outcome, but that would leave a 90% chance there will be a world changing outcome.
So in total, I am saying a 55% chance of trump winning. But more significant than who wins, is how divided America is following the election.
The most significant of the predictions is a 90% chance that the result of the election will be regarded as ‘unjust’ by supports of the losing party.
I am suggesting a 65% chance that following the election, this feeling of injustice will translate into calls to declare the result in key states invalid, with Donald Trump calling for legal action that would declare results officially invalid – or at least delayed beyond the December 14 deadline.
Attempts to declare results invalid may not give Trump the presidency, or perhaps even result in legal or any other official action. However, any outcome that does not give Trump another term will almost certainly be declared unfair by Trump and a number of supporters will believe this so strongly they will protest, or take other action, which is likely to include violence.
Democrat supporters already declare the current presidency as unrepresentative given that Trump did not win the rather over-rated popular vote as a resulted of a system designed to protect minority interests. This questionable argument would be replaced by a far more significant one if Trump is appointed by congress, or wins in any election that involves legal action to block votes, and such action will at least almost certainly be requested by Trump.
Whoever wins, it is almost certain the other side will feel the result is unjust leaving a further divided USA. In many scenarios, a USA with increased violence.
Disharmony will further reduce the role of the USA as a champion of democracy, and will likely see the role of the US and the commitment to democracy in the current form wane worldwide.