In case you haven’t noticed, the United States is having an election next week. On November 3 millions of Americans will head to the polls to determine who will be the next President of the United States. If the U.S. election seems completely foreign to you, have no fear, here’s what you need to know.
U.S. Election Basics
The U.S. is dominated by two political parties: the Democrats, who are the more left-leaning liberals with their candidate ex-Vice President Joe Biden; and the Republicans, the conservative party, led by the current president, Donald Trump.
You may feel like this election has been going on forever, but that’s because the two parties go through months of primaries and caucuses where the people vote multiple times just to determine who the party candidate will be. But the actual election happens on November 3 and this is when Americans will vote for who they want to be the next president.
Determining the winner comes down to the electoral college, which is how Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election despite winning the popular vote. All that you need to know is that if a party wins the most electoral college votes in a state, the winner takes the whole state, and the party with the majority wins the election.
Americans are offered a number of ways to vote, including pre-polling and mail-in ballots, which many are choosing to take advantage of while coronavirus still runs rampant. Unlike Australia, however, voting for Americans is not mandatory.
How to watch the U.S. Election in Australia
While voting will kick off on November 3 in the U.S. results likely won’t come in until very late that night, and may even be delayed further to cater for the higher number of mail-in ballots this year. For Aussies, that means we should see the results sometime during the day on Wednesday, November 4.
Just like the Presidential Debate, most of our local news outlets will be covering the election results live. Coverage is set to start at 11am AEDT on SBS, ABC, 10 News, Nine News and Seven News.
What to Watch
If you’d rather watch something than read up on the U.S. political system, here are some suggestions:
Planet America on ABC and ABC iView gives a great run-down of what has happened during the week of U.S. politics from Australian experts. The Chaser’s Chas Licciardello and ABC’s John Barron host the show weekly on Fridays at 9:00pm AEDT.
The Circus is a TV documentary series which has been tracking U.S. politics since the 2016 presidential election. The Circus brings in political insiders, such as Jennifer Palmiere who served as the White House Director of Communications, to discuss the current state of affairs with both important political players and everyday Americans. It’s a great breakdown of how Americans feel about the politics in their country. All episodes are currently streaming on Stan.
If you’re looking for some fictional drama to make sense of the U.S. political system, The West Wing (Stan) should be your first stop for a fairly realistic portrayal of the White House. House of Cards (Netflix) is more of a character study but sits in the same world of the U.S. political system. And Veep (Binge) is a more comedic take for those who are looking for something light-hearted.
Just think, in a week all the waiting will be over. But Trump’s tweets probably won’t be.