A Trump “win” will open the question: does voting work? If the American people cannot get rid of a rejected president by casting millions more votes against him than votes for him—how do they get rid of him?

If Trump not only loses the popular vote, but loses that vote in ways that look unfair—stopping the count, junking mailed ballots, forcing voters in minority neighbourhoods to wait in huge lines while voters in wealthier neighbourhoods wait in short ones—what then? The only way a Trump re-election can be achieved is by setting aside normal expectations of how democracy should work. What happens then? Will politics move into the streets? Since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, American cities have been wracked by protests and disturbances on a scale not seen since the 1960s. Do bigger and more turbulent protests follow in 2021?

A Trump second term will probably not look like the mostly quiet first three years of the Trump first term. A Trump re-election portends severe political instability for the United States. If Democrats take the Senate in 2020 or in 2022, will there be more impeachment contests, not only of Trump himself, but of despised Trump cabinet appointees like Attorney General Bill Barr? And what happens to the Supreme Court nomination that a re-elected Trump will try to cram through over the objection of the majority of U.S. voters? Will doubts about Trump’s legitimacy spread to other parts of the U.S. political and constitutional system?