The US Presidential Election has been a global hot topic for most of 2020, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its popularity certainly increased over the past month with the Democratic and Republican debates, media discussions, and civic engagements to encourage voting from both sides. The election, fraught with unsupported claims of illegal voting, fake news, and swing states; culminated on Tuesday November 3rd followed by a tense four-day wait for a winner to be declared. In the end, based on results by the Associated Press, the DNC ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now respectively President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of the United States of America.
Unsurprisingly, the 2020 US Presidential Election was in itself a recording-breaking event, with over 101 million pre-election votes via mail-in ballots. Biden won 279 electoral votes with a whopping 75,404,182 votes (and counting). However, media monitor RavenPack reports that outgoing President Trump grabbed most of the media attention in the US for the period of October 12th to November 9th, 2020. He claimed 50.6% of all media mentions over Biden’s 49.4%.
Regional media coverage of the US Election also increased steadily over the last two weeks. According to Media InSite’s Social Listening tool, for the period October 25th to November 8th 2020, Trump led the media mentions from Caribbean media outlets with over 1,500 mentions to Biden’s 805 mentions. The Top Regional Media House Post was an announcement of the election results by CNC3 on Saturday 7th November 2020. It received over 8,000 interactions including 7.2K Likes, 1K Comments and 1.5K Shares. The top themes across the regional media coverage for both the Democratic and Republican campaigns, beyond the candidates themselves, included ‘president’, ‘people’ and ‘win’.
But do these numbers and the US Presidential Election itself hold any meaning for the Caribbean? The answer is a resounding yes if the outpouring of well-wishes from regional leaders and citizens is anything to go by. Many Jamaicans took to social media over the months of campaigning to show support for incoming Vice President Harris, whose father is Jamaican. Even Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness in his congratulations to the Democratic President-elect expressed pride in Harris’ Jamaican heritage and acknowledged her ‘monumental accomplishment’ for women.
Trinidad and Tobago was not to be left out of the election excitement either. CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip, who was praised for her analysis and insight during the coverage of the elections, has Trinbagonian parents. Phillip also moderated CNN’s January 2020 Democratic Debate in Iowa.
In terms of the impact that the 46th US President will have on the Caribbean, Former Director of the Institute of International Relations at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Professor Andy Knight believes that it could be a good one. He told Guardian Media Limited that Biden’s term in office could mean a possible end to Venezuelans seeking asylum in T&T.
“I can see Biden working closely with Caribbean leaders to find ways to resolve the major refugee crisis which has resulted in thousands of Venezuelan refugees and asylum seekers coming into Trinidad and Tobago and over 1.6 million migrants flooding into Colombia. At the end of the day, under a Biden administration, one could expect a normalcy in the conduct of foreign policy and a less erratic decision-making process. The Caribbean will be able to breathe.”