ere we are once again. Four years after Americans went to the polls and watched Hillary Clinton secure 3 million more votes than Donald Trump, only for him to walk off with the prize of the presidency regardless, the nation is set for another showdown. On 3 November, barely 50 days away, supporters of the two main parties will cast ballots for either Trump or Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s vice-president who wanted to run in 2016, but who was pressured to step aside for Clinton by his boss. The Green Party and the Libertarians are also contesting, though nobody expects them to win.
While the faces of Trump, 74, and 77-year-old Biden are well known, the landscape in which the election is being fought is anything but. In the autumn of 2016, unemployment stood at 4.9 per cent, down from 10 per cent at the height of the 2009 recession, and the 161,000 jobs added that October represented the 73rd consecutive month of job gains.
Today, things feel sharply different, for several reasons. As the summer draws to an end, the coronavirus pandemic that has infected 6.4m Americans and killed 190,000 has also wrecked the economic fortunes of many.