First Thing election special: if Biden wins, what will his first 100 days look like?

Tim Walker
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Good morning.

If Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump next week, he will take office during a global pandemic and America’s most serious economic crisis for a century. And when he’s dealt with those, he will still have to rebuild US relationships abroad, grapple with the nation’s increasingly dysfunctional democratic institutions – and face the existential threat of climate change.

Few presidents have faced such a daunting task in their first 100 days, write Daniel Strauss and Julian Borger – yet these spiralling crises also present an opportunity to make sweeping and ambitious change on the scale of FDR’s New Deal. Contrary to popular belief, argues Jeffrey Frankel, Democrats have historically been better for the US economy than Republicans – and Biden has a stronger economic plan than Trump.

The Guardian’s view on the 2020 election is simple: Joe Biden is America’s only hope:

Anything other than a vote for Mr Biden is a vote to unleash a supercharged Trumpism. All pretence of civility would be dropped. The divides of race, class and sex would become even wider. Mr Trump is a symptom of America’s decline. Finding a solution to this problem begins with a vote for Mr Biden.

  • As for the first 100 days of a second Trump term, his hardline adviser Stephen Miller is said to have drafted a series of executive orders too unpopular for a president seeking re-election, but ready to be signed swiftly in “shock and awe” style if Trump wins on 3 November.

We may be witnessing the highest election turnout since 1908

People wait in line to cast their ballots during early voting in West Hempstead, New York.
People wait in line to cast their ballots during early voting in West Hempstead, New York. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

With less than a week to go until election day, about 70 million Americans have already cast their votes: more than half the total turnout in 2016. Experts say the US may be on track for its highest voter turnout since the Taft-Bryan election of 1908.

After the US supreme court blocked the counting of mail-in ballots received after election day in Wisconsin, Democrats across the country have stepped up their efforts to convince voters to deliver their absentee ballots by hand, rather than rely on a hamstrung US postal service.

  • Trump’s director of election-day operations, Mike Roman, is claiming without evidence that Democrats are using mail ballots to try to steal the election in Pennsylvania.

  • A Michigan court has reversed the state’s recent ban on carrying guns within 100ft of polling stations, which was introduced after armed Trump supporters announced they would “monitor” voting centres.

  • Doug Jones, the Democratic US senator for Alabama, has staked his re-election bid on emphasising the threat to voter rights, particularly in his native deep south.

Trump said Covid numbers are ‘way down’ – they’re way up

Trump told a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Tuesday that US Covid-19 numbers were “way down”, as the White House published a list of the administration’s accomplishments in 2020, which included a section called “Ending the Covid-19 pandemic”.

In fact, almost half a million people have contracted Covid-19 in the US over the past seven days alone, with the midwest breaking records for new cases and hospital admissions. The US death toll from the disease stands at 226,000.

Most people globally want Trump to lose – except a far-right minority

Trump&#x002019;s National Security Adviser Robert O&#x002019;Brien with the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro - a Trump acolyte - in Brasilia last week.
Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien with the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro - a Trump acolyte - in Brasilia last week. Photograph: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images

As Cas Mudde writes, “US presidential elections are not just national elections; they are global elections, too.” Most of the international community would be glad to see the back of Trump, but far-right leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have publicly expressed their support for the president’s re-election campaign.

In other election news …

  • Barack Obama roasted Trump at a campaign rally in Florida on Tuesday, joking that the president’s complaints about the media’s reporting on the coronavirus crisis suggest “he is jealous of Covid’s media coverage”.

  • Melania Trump has returned to the campaign trail after recovering from Covid-19, telling a crowd in Philadelphia she felt “much better now, thanks to healthy living and some of the amazing therapeutic options available in our country.”

  • The Trump campaign says its website was ‘defaced’ by hackers on Tuesday, when it briefly displayed a bogus law enforcement announcement claiming the site had been “seized” because “the world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded daily by president donald j trump”.

Stat of the day

Although unemployment figures are down from their April peak, US jobless claims remain four times higher than they were before the pandemic, reports Michael Sainato. About 787,000 people filed for benefits last week – roughly equal to the population of Seattle.

View from the right

Despite widespread speculation that Trump’s personal behaviour would drive faith-based voters to Biden, Gary Bauer argues in the Washington Examiner that evangelical Christians will stick with the president regardless, because he has delivered on the issues they care about most.

Since becoming president, Trump has issued executive orders preventing taxpayer funding of abortion overseas, preventing funds from going to Planned Parenthood, restricting funding for fetal-tissue research, and protecting the conscience rights of pro-life healthcare workers.

Don’t miss this

The Menlo Park Veterans’ Memorial Home in New Jersey had the highest Covid-19 death toll of any nursing home in the US. Yet an immunity law passed by the state in April is shielding its owners from scrutiny over allegations that they mismanaged and covered up the outbreak. Now, grieving family members are demanding transparency and accountability for their loved ones’ needless deaths, as Ann Neumann reports.

Last Thing: Sarah Cooper’s special

The comedian Sarah Cooper shot to fame in lockdown with her lip-sync videos, miming online to Trump’s rambling pronouncements. But her new Netflix special, Everything’s Fine, shows she’s far more than just a TikTok novelty act, says Brian Logan.

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