A Poorly Focused Campaign

President Trump’s criticisms of Hunter Biden were one of the biggest failings of his campaign.


Alex Ali, Staff Writer

With the Trump administration battered by accusations of incompetence, corruption, failure to properly deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and social unrest, the electoral strategy that the president and his campaign used this election appealed more and more towards security. While President Trump’s campaign did have a marked focus on law enforcement, he also attempted to portray the other major candidate, Joe Biden and his family, as more corrupt than his own by emphasizing Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, and his perceived corruption. With his campaign in a sink-or-swim situation, focusing on Hunter Biden’s corruption seemed to be a Hail Mary strategy— and it was one of the reasons that Biden won and Trump lost. 

The story that was, and still is, commonly circulated by President Trump and his supporters centers around Hunter Biden’s dealings with Burisma Holdings, a Ukranian oil and gas company, and a perceived conflict of interest with Joe Biden’s political role in foreign policy with Ukraine. Conservative pundits claim that President-Elect Biden’s condemnation of a Ukranian prosecutor, Victor Shokin, was an attempt to cover up the corruption at Burisma Holdings.

However, this claim is unfounded. Victor Shokin was fired precisely because he refused to investigate Burisma Holdings, not because he was investigating them. After more instances of Shokin failing to look into suspicious situations were revealed, he was condemned by a slew of credible international and domestic organizations such as the Ukranian Parliament, the European Union, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. This further proves that Shokin was not fired because he was threatening to expose Biden, but rather, because of Shokin’s own corruption. The larger conflict of interest between President Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Solensky represents a greater conflation of international and domestic issues and misuse of power.

With his campaign in a sink-or-swim situation, focusing on Hunter Biden’s corruption seemed to be a Hail Mary strategy— and it was one of the major reasons that Biden won and Trump lost.

The first of two major issues with this talking point was that it was far from the central focus of the election. Americans are aware that Hunter Biden is involved with unsavory political dealings and has a problematic personal life. But in a pandemic which has seen unemployment shoot up, currently hovering at around 12.8%, Americans do not care about the supposed corruption of extended members of the Biden family. Instead, they care about the Trump administration’s failure to contain and address the coronavirus, the subsequent deaths and the immense damage to people’s livelihoods—all of these serve as referendums on Trump. 

More importantly, the Hunter Biden point didn’t sway suburban women in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, who were key deciders of swing states this election. They care significantly more about the coronavirus and Trump’s character, namely his arguably demeaning attitude towards women. Both of these issues caused Trump’s campaign to look unfavorable to them, even to white, wealthy, conservative women. Moreover, liberal suburban black women experienced increased voter registration and massive turnout in other suburbs, even flipping Georgia, a traditionally red state, blue.

A more salient way to promote President Trump’s campaign may have been to cast Biden as incompetent regarding the economy, and instead to highlight Trump’s own maintenance over a historically strong economy before the pandemic. Of course, such a drastically different approach to campaigning tactics may not have even resonated with President Trump’s current supporters. Regardless, the Trump administration and presidential campaign made a fatal mistake with its focus on Hunter Biden this election.