US election: Everything you need to know about Trump, Biden and what’s at stake

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Jim Watson, Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson, Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson, Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

On 3 November, US citizens vote for their next president. News24 breaks down what you need to know about these elections. 

In a few hours' time, American citizens will be waking up to vote in a highly-contested election which pits current President Donald Trump against Democrat Joe Biden. 

According to The New York Times, Republican Trump is 74 years old and is currently the 45th president of the United States. Trump's contender, Biden, is three years older.

Biden served as Barack Obama's vice-president. If Biden is elected, he will become the oldest president in US history at his inauguration. Trump will be the oldest president to win a second term, if he claims victory.  

READ | Explainer: Why does the US only have two dominant political parties?

According to Reuters, more than 95 million Americans had already cast their votes, using the early ballot system. 

The increase in the use of the mail-in and early voting system was largely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed 230 000 people in the United States. 

Reuters reported that experts predict the turnout will easily surpass the 138 million who voted in 2016.

READ |  Explainer: Why the US elections may be decided before 3 November

The youth vote is expected to play a big role in this year's election.

USA Today reported that, as of 23 October, more than five million young people (in the 18-29 age group) had voted early or used absentee ballots in the 2020 elections. This included nearly three million in key battleground states, eclipsing 2016 early voting totals for that age group, according to statistics compiled by the CIRCLE research centre at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

This is despite what appears to be concerted efforts to try to hinder the youth vote across the country. 

READ | Explainer: Why young voters might decide the US presidential elections

At the moment, Biden is leading Trump in the national polls, but this doesn't mean he will take the election.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost at the electoral college.  

READ | Explainer: Why a US presidential candidate can lose the popular vote and still become president

Different states come into play in the elections. These are labelled battleground or swing states and are generally states that have not yet decided on whether to vote Republican or Democrat. 

In 2020, the swing states are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

In the last days, in the run-up to the election, the two candidates have focused their energies on these states in an attempt to win them over. 

READ | Explainer: US elections: What are swing states?

Reuters reported that British betting company, Ladbrokes Coral Group, had said bettors have placed more than 50/50 odds on the results of Tuesday's US presidential election being declared by Wednesday.

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