December 17, 2020

Election 2020: Expectations vs. reality

Presidential election years sometimes feature major news shocks, such as the 2008 financial crisis or the 1979-80 Iranian hostage mess. But 2020’s turmoil exceeds any since at least 1968. Even so, some generalities about the elections held up well, including:

Many specifics, however, could not have been predicted, without foreknowledge of the events on which they were based. In particular:

Where Democratic messaging got messed up was around the economy.

The final point I’d like to highlight is that, at the presidential level, this was in significant part a competence-in-crisis election. Basically, if an executive is seen as mishandling a crisis, and an election follows soon thereafter, it’s likely curtains for the executive. (It’s a truism that the worst thing that can happen to a mayor’s reelection chances is a mishandled snowstorm; if the mayor doesn’t remove the snow fast enough, the residents soon remove the mayor.) So it was for Carter and the hostages. So it might have been for Bush had Hurricane Katrina hit in 2004 rather than 2005. And so it was for Trump once he was widely agreed to have botched the pandemic.


One Response to “Election 2020: Expectations vs. reality”

  1. Seven categories of political messaging | Strategic Messaging on December 17th, 2020 9:10 am

    […] sense, candidates sometimes forget to argue for the policies themselves. For example, Democrats did a poor job of economic messaging in this year’s national […]

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