(CBS Detroit) — The 2020 election is tomorrow. But in those parts of the country with mail-in ballots and early voting, the election has been happening for weeks. As of Monday morning, 94 million votes have been cast. That’s almost 68 percent of all the votes counted in 2016. Challenger Joe Biden holds the advantage among early voters, but President Donald Trump is projected to do better among likely election-day voters.
The conditions that affect people’s votes can date back further than the weeks leading up to the election. And 2020 has been an eventful year, with the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic conditions topping the list of issues for many.
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On Friday, 99,000 new cases were reported in the United States, a record for any country. The economy, which remains historically bad, is coming off a third quarter that saw a record 33.1 percent annualized growth. New unemployment claims for the most recent week available, dipped to 751,000, the lowest they’ve been in months. These latest economic numbers, of course, reflect an economy that hasn’t yet factored in the recent surge of the virus.
A second stimulus package is still pending, despite a last-minute flurry of negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The sides agree on many parts of a deal that would cost between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion. Among them are the need for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and additional weekly unemployment benefits from the federal government. President Trump has voiced support for a large stimulus package. But the Senate, as currently configured, is seeking a stimulus package in the neighborhood of $500 billion. Any stimulus that’s eventually passed will take weeks to start reaching consumers.
The stock market, which is more forward-looking, is coming off its worst month since March. The Dow Jones was down almost six percent, and the S&P 500 was off 3.5 percent for the month. The reasons include the current presidential election, the possible economic effect of rising coronavirus counts and the failure to pass a second round of stimulus.
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These are the uncertain conditions that voters face when casting their ballots. Pete Buttigieg is a former presidential candidate and a current surrogate for the Biden-Harris ticket. His new book Trust is now available as an audiobook with Simon & Schuster. In a recent interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith, he framed the choice voters face in terms of trust.
“It’s an exchange of trust,” Buttigieg said. “We the people are trusted to make a decision on who our leadership ought to be. And we trust the people we elect to do a good job. I think what’s happening right now is that a lot of Americans, even those that, for whatever reason, decided to place their trust in the current president, are seeing that he’s not delivering.”
Voters may give President Trump another chance to deliver in a second term. They may also opt to deliver former Vice President Biden to the White House. What would a Biden presidency mean for the economy?
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According to Buttigieg, “I think what you’ll see is a focus on the economy as it hits our lives. Not just the stock market, because that’s not enough, for the wealthiest people to be doing well might lead to good overall economic averages, but it doesn’t actually mean we’re better off. In many ways, people are actually worse off than before the pandemic started, just in terms of the ability of somebody working fulltime to be able to get by. So what we’re going to see is a focus on economic growth, yes, a focus on job creation. Also, a focus on making sure work pays, that wages are fair, that workers can get ahead, the childcare is affordable, the basics that we need in order to do well. That’s the definition of a good economy.”
No matter who wins Tuesday’s election, the president will face dual challenges of reining in the pandemic and rebuilding the economy. Will those tasks and so many more fall to Donald Trump or Joe Biden?
Watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.