A select group of world leaders will be analyzing the results of key states that will determine whether President Donald Trump is re-elected, or Joe Biden wins the White House
As the U.S. policy geeks prepare for what is expected to be a very long election night, around the world a select group of world leaders will also be refreshing the FiveThirtyEight website with their own interests in mind, analyzing the results coming from the states that will determine whether President Donald Trump is re-elected, or Joe Biden wins the White House. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes.
If you are Vladimir Putin, this year is different. You’re not as involved as you were in 2016, and you don’t hate Joe Biden as much as you despised Hillary Clinton. Still, you’ll have an eye on Pennsylvania, which will likely be the last key state to count all of its votes, because ultimately you don’t want any candidate to win clear. You have a mono of chaos, confusion and court battle that further damage confidence in the American electoral system.
On the other hand, if you are Xi Jinping, you don’t want any disturbances to delay the results. You like your five-year plans, and you want to know as soon as possible which American leader you will work with for the next four years. While it matters less these days now that Democrats and Republicans agree that you’re bad for America, you’ve spent weeks analyzing the changing demographics in the Atlanta suburbs to find out if the GOP is going to be able to hold onto Georgia. If so, and Trump is re-elected, you know he will be (tougher) on China. But he will not try to bring support from many European and Asian friends to the fight, unlike Biden, who plans to add all those who have unfinished business with you.
If you are Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, in the elections of Great Satan you want the demon you have known for the longest to win, with whom you know you can make a (nuclear) pact. That’s why you are monitoring participation in Maricopa County in Arizona, which you think could give Biden the victory. Then you will have to worry about your own elections next year (a victory for the Conservatives will make that pact a bit difficult).
You will also be thinking of making a deal if you are Boris Johnson. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, you will be on the lookout – confined to Downing Street – of scrutiny in Macomb County, where an unexpected spike in Trump’s voter turnout could keep the state of Michigan red. That may increase the chances of signing a trade deal with the United States in the foreseeable future, something Biden may not be willing to do if he doesn’t give up a no-deal Brexit. Rather, do you really want four more years of diplomatic quirks from Trump?
Now imagine you are Narendra Modi, obsessed with participating in the Chapel Hill-Durham-Raleigh “research triangle” in North Carolina, where many Indian-Americans have landed high-quality tech jobs. Although three-quarters will vote for Biden, you doubt between the candidate who will give the most H1-B visas to your best citizens and the one who shares your antipathy for China and Muslims.
If you’re Jair Bolsonaro, you’ll be looking for the latest data from Miami-Dade, the competitive Florida county where you expect Latinos to vote hard for Trump. After all, you are part of the handful of world leaders who have bet on your friend, and you have a lot at stake in his re-election. You do not trust Biden, who will not let you destroy the Amazon jungle, and who will not be amused by your outbursts against the LGBTQ collective.
Finally, put yourself in Kim Jong-Un’s shoes, smoking like a carter while your eyes behind your pasta glasses are glued to your ultra-wide flat screen in your sumptuous palace in Pyongyang, hoping that women in suburban Wisconsin won’t abandon Trump as polls say. You need someone to talk to, and you don’t expect Biden to reply to your love letters, let alone meet you like Trump has (although Joe probably won’t even try to convince you to give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons).