Oct 23, 2020 Letters
The US Presidential and Congressional elections are on November 3, a week from Tuesday. In addition to national elections, there are state contests for Governors, state and local government legislatures, mayors, sheriffs, and other state and local offices. (Unlike in Guyana, each area or region runs its own affairs in the US and has its own elected body and chief executive officer to manage affairs independent of the national or state government). A few Guyanese candidates are in the contests in some constituencies. There are no public ratings of their chances.
How will Guyanese vote and do their votes matter? Guyanese votes are split and depending where they reside, their votes may be critical to the outcome of contests especially if polls find them competitive.
Nationally, polls predict a victory for challenger Joe Biden against incumbent Donald Trump for President. The Congressional contest is unpredictable but Democrats have a very good chance of retaining the lower House and capture the Senate from the Republicans. While polls suggest that the Democrats could retain the House with a big margin as in 2018, the Senate will be narrowly won by either party. Polls rate several Senate contests as toss ups between the two major parties. Given the anti-Trump national trend, the Democrats are expected to flip the Senate and make gains in the House.
Voting traditions in America are similar to Guyana. While Indians commit to PPP and Africans to the PNC, there are US states that are overwhelmingly Democratic and those that are overwhelmingly Republican. States that are overwhelmingly White tend to gravitate towards the Republican Party while states that are ethnically diverse or mixed tend to lean Democrat. The so-called red neck states are heavily Republican. The Republican Party gets most of its support from Whites accounting for some 90% of the Republican base. Minorities like Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, indigenous tribes, and others support the Democratic Party and are critical for victories in close contests.
In states that are heavily Democratic like NY, NJ, Connecticut, California, etc., called the blue states, or heavily Republican like Georgia, Arizona, Texas, Iowa, Ohio, etc., dubbed the red states, the Guyanese American or minority votes done carry much weight. But this year, polls show that Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio and Texas are in play. Trump handily won all in 2016. Biden could pick up a few if not all. Democrats nearly won the Georgia vacant senate seat in 2018 and polls put the Democrat ahead for the vacant senate seat from Arizona in 2020.
In the closely contested states or competitive races, Guyanese votes matter. Guyanese Americans and other immigrants hold the key to their outcome. Guyanese are clustered in Minnesota, Michigan, and Georgia. Minnesota was close in 2016 but is expected to remain Democratic this year. Michigan was narrowly won by Trump in 2016 and this pollster (writer) projects Biden capturing it. Georgia was comfortably won by Trump. While polls rate Georgia as a toss-up, this writer feels it will remain in the Trump column. Texas, handily won by Trump in 2016, is rated as a toss-up according to latest polls. This writer feels Trump will retain it. Guyanese are heavily concentrated in the northeast like NY, NJ, and Connecticut and all three are safe for Biden. Pennsylvania and Florida are toss-ups that were won by Trump. This writer feels that Biden will pick up both. Wisconsin and Ohio, both of which have some Guyanese, are rated as toss ups. Both went for Trump in 2016 and this writer projects both will be flipped for Biden. Overall, this writer projects a Biden victory in 2020. (This writer predicted a Clinton victory in 2016. While Hillary Clinton won the popular votes defeating Trump by nearly 3M votes, Trump won the electoral votes 302 to 236 that chose the President). This year, Biden is projected to win both the popular and electoral votes as per the analysis of this pollster.
How do Guyanese vote in terms of party or the two candidates? Polls were conducted by various institutions on ethnic groups but not on Guyanese. Based on this writer’s estimate, as per interviews in 2016, almost all Afro Guyanese voted for Clinton. This year, Afro Guyanese are loyal to the Biden/Harris ticket. Some 93% African Americans are voting Biden according to national polls. Blacks make up 13% of the electorate. Some 20% Indo Guyanese voted Trump or Republican last time. There is no deviation in the 2020 election even though some who voted Trump are disappointed in his presidency. In fact, some Indo Guyanese are very confident of a Trump victory. Some 28% Indian Americans are voting Trump based on an opinion poll conducted by an Asian American group.
Indo Guyanese vote Republican or Trump because they feel that party better protects democracy in Guyana. They point to the Democrats removing the PPP from office in 1964 and 2015 while the Republicans restored democracy in 1992 and 2020. The Republican Eisenhower Administration pressured the UK Government to restore constitutional rule in 1957 after the Jagan government was toppled in 1953. While securing democracy in Guyana in 2020, Trump has been tough on immigrants during his tenure.
Whether their votes make a different in the outcome or not, Guyanese Americans are urged to vote.
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