2020 United States presidential election has recorded the highest voter turnout in 120 years
Joe Biden has been elected as the new President of the United States. He will reshape the nation’s relationship with countries around the world. Biden has pledged that he will restore the U.S.’s “respected leadership on the world stage” and bring together representatives of democracies around the world to “honestly confront the challenge of nations that are backsliding.” This is in stark contrast to President Donald Trump, who for the last four years has taken an isolationist approach to foreign policy and undermined decades-old alliances.
On Saturday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated both Biden and Harris on Twitter. “As the [Vice President], your contribution to strengthening Indo-U.S. relations was critical and invaluable,” he wrote in a tweet addressed to Biden. “I look forward to working closely together once again to take India-U.S. relations to greater heights.
To Kamala Harris, Modi wrote: “Your success is pathbreaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis [a Tamil family term that Harris used in her VP nominee acceptance speech], but also for all Indian-Americans. I am confident that the vibrant India-U.S. ties will get even stronger with your support and leadership.
Democrat administration of US is expected to be reasoned, mature and act towards India as a friendly country. President Biden would not club it with China and other countries on issues of trade, climate change, oil and defence exports etc.
But Trump has forged a few friendships overseas—including with India’s Prime Minister Narinder Modi in the face of a rising China, the two countries have drawn closer together militarily, too. So, for the world’s largest democracy, the stakes are high for the continuing the relations by future Biden Administration
The Trump administration’s growing hard-line on China has aligned well with India at a time of growing Chinese aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Trump took a hard line on Pakistan, if only to avoid giving money to Islamabad. Yet in the bargain, he also ceded space to Islamabad in the Afghanistan peace talks.
A Democrat administration is likely to go back to the drawing board on the US-Iran nuclear deal, opening up not just Iranian oil but also strategic space for India with Iran in the Middle East. A Biden-Harris presidency may also look differently at the Paris Agreement, visas for Indian workers, and so on. All things considered, Biden should be good for India, even if he’s less keen to see relations with India in the personalised format that PM Modi prefers, and see them more as government-to-government relations.
The Indian origin voters despite #Howdy Modi and #Namaste Trump and inspite of an exuberance and slogan “Ab Ke Bar Trump Sarkar”-only less than half percentage voted for Trump and majority for Biden.
Electoral experts say that the 2020 United States presidential election has recorded the highest voter turnout in 120 years.
According to preliminary estimates of the US Election project, an estimated 239 million people were eligible to vote this year, of which nearly 160 million exercised their right to franchise. The figure is likely to be updated in the coming weeks.
The 2020 presidential election had the highest turnout rate in 120 years. The November 3 election saw a record voter turnout of 66.9 per cent, which is the highest turnout rate since 1900. The 1900 election had recorded 73.7 per cent voter.
In 2016, US had registered 56 per cent voter turnout, while it was 58 per cent in 2008, as per the US Election Project, this year had the highest turnout of 79.2 per cent each, followed by Iowa at 78.6 per cent.
Other states which polled more than 70 per cent voter turnout were Colorado (77.1 per cent), Connecticut (71.1 per cent), Delaware (70.8 per cent), Florida (72.9 per cent), Maryland (72.2 per cent), Massachusetts (73.4 per cent), Michigan (73.5 per cent) and Montana (72.3 per cent). Arkansas recorded the lowest turnout of 56.1 per cent, as per the preliminary estimates.
The Time magazine said the above-average voter turnout rate in 2020 is noteworthy as the US usually has some of the worst turnout rates in the world.
In a Pew Research ranking of voter turnout in the most recent nationwide elections, the US is placed at 30th position out of 35 nations.
The highest voter turnout since 120 was reflected in a high vote support to both Biden and Trump. Biden had received over 72 million votes, which is eight million more than Hillary Clinton got in 2016. Trump bagged over 68.5 million votes, which is the highest Republican turnout.
According to the experts voters of 2019, non-Hispanic White Americans at 69 per cent make up the largest share of registered voters in the US. Hispanic and Black registered voters each account for 11 per cent, while those from other racial or ethnic backgrounds account for the remaining eight per cent.
It was under a Republican administration led by George Bush in 2005 that the United States had denied visa to Gujarat chief minister named Narendra Modi. A Democratic president, Barack Obama, went around hugging PM Modi. His republican successor, Donald Trump, is prone to lash out at India over a few motorcycles, and yet the strategic ties between the two countries have only been growing.
No matter who wins an election in New Delhi or Washington, India-US ties only get stronger. That caveat aside, it is important to note the ups and downs in the diplomacy and mutual relationship.
Joe Biden becomes the next US president, and assumes office in 3rd.week of January next year, he can only do better for India than Trump did. But Biden may not be politically good for Modi. Such nuance matters, even if we may not like to hear the truth that India isn’t Modi and Modi isn’t India. The country is bigger than its leader, no matter how popular he/she is.
In January 2015, in the backdrop of a right wing campaign against minorities, Barack Obama spoke in Delhi just before leaving for the airport. In this address, he lectured India on religious tolerance. “No society is immune from the darkest impulses of men and too often, religion has been used to tap into those instead of the light of God. Every person has the right to practise any faith or none as he chooses without the fear of prosecution,” Obama said in a speech that was virtually ticking Modi off in his own capital.
Democratic president nominee Joe Biden during his campaign asserted that if elected, his administration will stand with New Delhi in confronting the threats it faces and called for strengthening the “bond” between India and the U.S.
“Fifteen years ago, I was leading the efforts to approve the historic civil nuclear deal with India. I said that if the U.S. and India became closer friends and partners, then the world will be a safer place,” Biden, who was vice-president in the Obama administration, said while addressing the Indian-American community on India’s Independence Day.
If elected president, Biden said, he will continue to believe this and also continue to stand with India against the threats it faces from its own region and along its borders.
Today we have what we call a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with US.Our two countries cooperate across the board on a wide range of issues starting from defence and security, going into technology and innovation, trade and investments and people-to-people contacts. We have definitely crossed the tipping point in which the relations could be affected one way or the other,” say the foreign policy experts.
Under Trump, the bilateral relationship between the US and India has taken a definitive strategic turn with both countries coming together in the shared vision of Indo-Pacific and the Quadrilateral Dialogue with Japan and Australia.
Kamala Harris shall be the first Indian American Vice President of the United States, a position that may change Indian engagement with American politics, as well as the United States’ response to issues in India. The relationship between the countries is also especially crucial for India, where the economy shrank by 23.9% in the first quarter of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the largest drop in decades and the greatest setback a major economy has experienced from the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden has also committed to strengthening the U.S.-India relationship. “The U.S. and India will stand together against terrorism in all its forms and work together to promote a region of peace and stability where neither China nor any other country threatens its neighbors,” Biden wrote in an op-ed in an Indian-American newspaper in October.
While the Biden campaign has committed to further strengthening the security ties between the U.S. and India, there’s a big question mark over how strongly it will push back against the Indian government’s Kashmir policy. The U.S. would not go in and intervene in domestic matters in India beyond a certain point,”- is my sense. India however has to do intense diplomatic lobby at official and non official levels to ward off the negative campaign about Kashmir and other issues characterised as rights abuse by the active vested interests.
A Biden presidency will further strengthen India-US ties thanks to rising China, but when it comes to hugging Modi, the Democrats might remember how Modi lent himself to the Trump campaign.
Author is a Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India