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Letters from L.A. | Who Is Going to Win?

This dispatch on the U.S. Presidential Election comes from Los Angeles, California -- the entertainment capital of the world.


The main difference between the American and Philippine elections is that in the U.S. both president and vice president run under the same party, while in the Philippines they may run under different parties. In the 2016 election President Rodrigo Duterte was a Hagpong Sa Taong Lunsod candidate, while Vice President Leni Robredo won as a Liberal Party candidate.

In the Philippines, the winner is determined by the popular vote. In the U.S. the popular vote is the total number or percentage of votes cast for a candidate by voters in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.; the candidate who gets the most vote nationwide is said to have won the popular vote. However, the popular vote is not used to determine who is elected as the nation's president or vice president, as in the Philippines.

In the U.S., the Electoral College determines the winning candidates. It is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the U.S. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and an absolute majority of at least 270 electoral votes is required to declare the winner. In the 2016 election Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, while Donald Trump, who has been compared with Duterte as "strongmen," won the electoral vote and was declared President.

President Trump, who is trailing former Vice President Biden in the opinion polls, is running again, unless he decides to quit before the election on November 3, 2020. Biden has chosen California senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate. She is the first Black woman and first Asian to be nominated by a major party. Harris, 55, was a long-standing friend of Beau, Biden's son who died from brain cancer five years ago. Biden, who is 77, has said that he considers himself a transitional leader for the party.

Harris is a woman of Jamaican American and Indian descent. She was a prosecutor, California's attorney general, before becoming senator. On Trump she has said: "The president's mismanagement of the pandemic plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression., and we are experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustices that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country, demanding change. America is crying out for new leadership."

President Trump is amplifying a false claim that California-born Harris might not be eligible to serve as vice president, a smear that recalls the racist "birther" campaign he waged against former President Obama. The Trump campaign is painting Kamala Harris as both a radical and insufficiently liberal to unite the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. 

Although Biden is leading in the opinion polls, no one predicts with certainty that he will win the election.

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Paulino Lim Jr. was born in Camalig, Albay (August 23, 1935). He is an emeritus professor of English at California State University, Long Beach.