We may not know yet who will win the Presidential Election but, as Edge Hill programme leader for Politics Paula Keaveney, argues, some people have “won” already.
I am constantly amazed by the speed with which US commentators switch from the results of an election to the question of who will run next. Sometimes there are just a few months. Sometimes we don’t even get to the inauguration before the talking starts.
And this year there are likely to be more politicians than ever pondering what this month’s results mean for them and their ambitions.
If Trump wins, he can only serve one more term. There is a legal limit. And if Biden wins, his suggestion of a single term Presidency becomes very relevant.
This means that, more than ever, the focus will switch almost immediately to what comes next.
Ambitious Republicans will be working out whether distancing from Trump or appearing to hug Trump close will help their prospects.
But it is within Democratic hearts that hope, and ambition is likely to beat most strongly.
The general wisdom is that it is better to be a challenger than follow an incumbent. But electoral trends in the US have shown a strong incumbency factor when the party is in its first term. In other words, it is easier for that party to win another four years. Reasons for this vary but it is argued that voters tend to pin blame on previous administrations for the first few years. A Biden Presidency then could run into economic difficulties but avoid economic blame. This in turn means that being selected as the Democratic candidate to follow a President Biden is a very attractive prospect.
So, although we don’t have a winner yet, we do have winners. These are individuals well positioned to make a run to become the next nominee.
Top of this list must be Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris. Harris has achieved that key political combination of ability and luck. The Senator from California’s run for the nomination ended early. But timing is all. And her selection by Biden has propelled her to national prominence in a way her primary rivals can only envy. If Biden wins, and sticks to his one term idea, she will be front runner for the nomination. If he loses, her profile and campaigning must give her the edge (as long as no blame for the loss attaches itself to her) Kamala Harris then is my winner of the night.
My runner up, another Democrat, is former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Mayor Pete did well initially in the primaries but then stopped campaigning and endorsed Biden. His media appearances as a Biden surrogate in recent weeks, including taking the fight to the usually hostile Fox News, have positioned him well for another run.
Politics never sleeps in the US. It is always worth watching out for who is on manoeuvres.
Paula Keaveney is a senior lecturer in Politics. US Politics is one of the subjects covered on Edge Hill University’s Politics degrees.