We’re now into the home straight of the US election and Donald Trump looks very likely
to lose. Lots of people, including the betting markets
, disagree, despite all the polling evidence to the contrary. I suspect this is the psephological version of post-traumatic stress: 2016 was such a shock that people can’t believe the polls now, even though this time it really is different
and the polls actually did pretty well
last time. Perhaps I’ll be eating my words in a couple of weeks, but I don’t think there’ll be an upset.
Here’s a different question: who does China want to win? The US Director of National Intelligence released an interesting statement
on foreign interference in the election, which claims that China sees Trump as unpredictable and would (unlike Russia) prefer a Biden presidency. Rush Doshi,
director of the Brookings China Strategy Initiative, has a good essay in Foreign Policy
that argues it’s more complicated than this.
In Doshi’s framing, China’s preference is for a divided America that can’t or won’t play a global leadership role. China sees in Trump a major blow to the US’s standing with its allies, soft power and internal coherence, all of which creates new opportunities for Chinese leadership on the world stage. Trump therefore is perceived to present long term benefits, but short term risks. Of course, that’s not to say that Biden can necessarily reverse this: as discussed above, the US’s relative decline is more about economic and technological stagnation and hyper-polarisation than its foreign policy choices.