TENSIONS Between suspicions of fraud and the possible contestation of the election results by the President himself

Sylvie Claire / November 2, 2020


The country is a powder keg ready to explode at the slightest spark.

The population and experts fear an explosion of violence in the United States over the announcement of the presidential election results.

If Joe Biden is declared the winner, Donald Trump could not accept the result and call into question the handover.

For several months, the two camps have been heated white by speeches marked by violence and rumors of fraud.


Shops are barricaded and population under pressure. In the United States, one day before the presidential election between current Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, the fear of an explosion of violence when the results are announced is more than present. According to a poll published on USA Today, 75% of Americans would dread them. A fear shared by observers and experts. "The potential for violence is great and very worrying whatever the result", confirms for 20 Minutes Nicole Bacharan, historian and political scientist specializing in the United States.


Stores in several major cities have already started to barricade fearing protests and looting. On Sunday in Texas, Joe Biden denounced the alleged harassment of one of his campaign vans by supporters of his opponent Donald Trump. The images were relayed by the president himself on Twitter, with the commentary "I love Texas" ("I love Texas »


The two white-hot camps


Violent events can arise from the far right as well as the far left, as both sides have been armed and under tension for several years and especially in recent months. "It has been four years since Donald Trump insulted the opposing camp, operates in chaos and makes violent remarks, without ever holding any message of rallying, even in a period of pandemic, analyzes Nicole Bacharan. The country is already ultra tense and on top of that, it has been repeating that it will win for months and that if this is not the case, it is because the vote is rigged or that there is postal voting fraud. « 


In Texas, the Republicans have called for the cancellation of 127,000 ballots at drive-in polling stations in the Houston area. The Texas Supreme Court denied the challenge and the district court judge is expected to make the same decision on Monday. "If the judge does not refuse it, Democratic opponents might consider that there is democratic theft," said Romain Huret, US historian and director of studies at EHESS. He is particularly worried about an outbreak of violence if either side loses through legal action or political manipulation.


Another element that could ignite the powder: Donald Trump's reaction to the results. He was rather evasive as to whether he would accept the results of the November 3 poll. “This is the first time in US history that a President has announced that the transition may not be normal. None of his predecessors ever questioned this transitional period, "underlines Romain Huret.



On Sunday, on his descent from Air Force One in North Carolina, Donald Trump told the media that "as soon as the election is over" his lawyers "will be ready", suggesting the possibility of a contestation of the ballot and of 'a long legal battle in the event of defeat. During his first debate, he also called on the white supremacist group Proud Boys, to “stand by” in this kind of situation.


"We are on a powder keg »



Between rumors of fraud, political manipulation and a barely disguised call for protest, the two camps are particularly tense and ready to take to the streets. Again, almost unheard of in American history. "The last time there was an explosion of violence in the United States during a presidential election, it was in 1968 with the victory of Nixon and we still talk about it today in history books" , emphasizes Nicole Bacharan


"We are in a powder keg", believes Romain Huret for whom the worst scenario would be that there is first a victorious candidate following the counting of the physical votes, then another with the counting of the votes by correspondence from here several days. In the meantime, the situation remains anxious across the country.

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