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Quick Takes

What Can Data Tell Us About Voting Patterns in the UNGA?

On September 17, the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly opened in New York. We asked Alisa DiCaprio, a BRINK contributor and the co-author of a research paper on the impacts of trade policy on UNGA voting, what to expect:

“Officially, the UNGA cannot impact trade. That is outside of its mandate. However the reality, according to my research, is that trade impacts countries’ voting decisions in the UNGA: Countries that are linked together by free trade agreements vote together more frequently.

This has interesting policy implications. In an unsettled global trade environment, we might expect that where FTAs are being renegotiated, countries are less likely to cooperate. Traditionally, my co-author and I wrote, ‘the benefits of trade agreements are measured using economic indicators. However, if another benefit is that your neighbors vote more like you, this may be attractive both to benign regimes … and also to malicious regimes that may seek cooperation to destabilize other parts of the region or world.’”

Gender and Race Are Driving Different Priorities in the US Election

Source: Pew Research Center

Women are more likely than men to factor in abortion (51% vs. 36%) and healthcare (71% vs. 59%) when voting in this year’s U.S. presidential election. Women are also more likely than men to rank the coronavirus pandemic as an important decision driver by 8%, according to Pew Research Center. Over the past 40 years, women cast almost ten million more votes compared to men, and are more likely to lean Democratic. 

82% of Black registered voters also say that they will factor in the pandemic while casting their vote, as opposed to only about half of white voters. In nearly every state, the CDC has reported disproportionately higher COVID-19 cases in the non-white population. The Black and Hispanic population also face a greater economic fallout from the pandemic — they are twice as likely than white adults to have been laid off or furloughed.

More than 69 million ballots have already been cast in next week’s election. The U.S. has also already seen record-breaking numbers in early voter turnout compared to the 2016 election, and could potentially surpass 139 million votes that were casted in 2016.

Europeans Show Concern Over How “Free and Fair” the US Election Will Be

Source: YouGov

Only 11% of European adults expect the upcoming United States presidential election to be “completely free and fair.” Notably, citizens of Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Sweden are more inclined to question the accuracy in this election, according to a recent survey by YouGov. The survey polled over 9,000 adults from various western European nations between September and October. 

The U.S. election has already implemented alternatives to in-person voting in the hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as voting by mail and early voting. Yet many Americans are uncertain about how this could affect the accuracy of election results. About one-in-four Americans are concerned about voter fraud when voting by mail, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Voter Turnout in Elections This Year?

Source: Council on Foreign Affairs

Around the world, countries are taking precautionary measures to make sure the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect voter turnout in elections. Earlier this year, the Dominican Republic and North Macedonia — each suffering from a high number of COVID-19 cases — both saw large drops in turnout from its previous election. In Burundi and South Korea, however, voter turnout increased, despite coronavirus-related concerns. 

To combat the spread of COVID-19, many countries required mask usage in polling stations, checked voters’ temperatures, enforced social distancing and eliminated sharing materials. Other measures included staggering voter hours, providing alternative options to in-person voting and implementing special procedures for COVID-19 patients. However, most of these precautionary measures are expensive to implement, and countries have concerns about how to communicate such changes to voters.

Currently, more than 40 million ballots have already been cast in the upcoming United States presidential election. While the Pew Research Center found that the majority of registered voters are “very or somewhat confident that in-person voting places will be run safely, without spreading the coronavirus,” most states are currently seeing a sharp increase in cases.

The Impact of Climate Change on US Voters

Source: Pew Research Center

About 2 in 5 Americans surveyed consider climate change a “very important” issue when deciding which presidential candidate to vote for in the upcoming U.S. election. However, the economy (which 79% of voters call “very important”), health care (68%) and the coronavirus pandemic (62%) all ranked as more pressing concerns for voters in this election, according to Pew Research Center.

Climate change ranked last in importance for supporters of President Donald Trump when compared with 12 other issues — only 11% of Trump supporters say climate change is “very important” when deciding who to vote for, as opposed to 68% of presidential candidate Joe Biden’s supporters. 

Despite the evident partisan divides on the issue, climate change has been a growing concern amongst the U.S. public, especially with the recent ongoing California wildfire and a record-breaking hurricane season. Today, six-in-ten adults view climate change as a major threat to the well-being of the country — an increase from 44% of respondents in a 2009 poll.

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