On 23 October, ALDE Party hosted a virtual event on the upcoming US elections to discuss the state of the race in the US and what it means for Europe. The event brought together a diverse group of panellists, including Denise Baron, PhD Candidate in Political Psychology at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Senior Insight Adviser for the UK Liberal Democrats, Jason F. Emert, Professor of International Law and Duncan School of Law and former Chair of the Young Republican National Federation and Ethan Arsht, Field and Data Campaign Adviser at ALDE Party and Data Volunteer at Joe Biden for President. The event was moderated by Philipp Hansen, Head of Policy, Strategy and Capacity Development at ALDE Party.
In his remarks, Emert highlighted the upcoming US elections as a turning point for the Republican party. Commenting on the future of the party in a possible post-Trump era, he said “The truth is that this is a moment of crisis, and I don’t think that’s a big secret. I spent two years as Chairman of Young Republicans, and we’re trying to reach new voters and people under 40 from a party that has policies that are almost antithetical to my generation.”
Bringing together experience from US politics and his role at ALDE Party, Arsht contributed a unique perspective on the relevance of this election for European political campaigns. Both a challenge and opportunity, he remarked how the change from physical to digital voter contact has accelerated during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, he said “You can change the way the way people communicate as much as you can change the weather. From a campaign perspective, you have to the way people communicate to campaign – that means things like getting supporters to message their friends, that’s a powerful tool to reach people in a way they trust.”
A political psychologist, Baron focused not only on her experiences a political campaigner, but highlighted several new trends in her study of American voting behaviour, explaining “The best way to divide up cohorts of voters is not necessarily demographics, but ideology, and to see how different types of ideologies come together. For example, when it comes to egalitarianism…that type of ideology is how we see society become more divided along political lines.”
The event concluded with a discussion on how interested Europeans can find out more about key issues and candidates in the run-up to election day on 3 November. The panellists agreed that the idea of “adopting a state”, selecting one or more races in a specific US state to follow more closely, can help people to learn more about US politics beyond Trump and Biden and dig deeper into relevant down-ballot races that may not receive media coverage outside the US.
In case you missed the event, you can catch up with the recording below.