US Election: Why Kiwis should care about the Trump vs Biden election - Patrick Gower

The election underway in the United States may seem irrelevant to a number of New Zealanders, the battle between incumbent President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, of little precedence compared to local affairs - but Patrick Gower argues that Kiwis should care about the milestone in American history.

The Newshub national correspondent has been on the ground documenting the watershed event, dubbed by many as the most important election in the country's history. Although Biden has been polling ahead of President Trump, Americans are sharply divided along ideological lines - and support for the Republican candidate is still strong across several states.

Although New Zealand and the US are separated by 12,535 kilometres and a 16-hour flight, a change in President will still carry "a huge impact" for our nation.

"It's going to have a huge impact on New Zealand if there's a change in President... Joe Biden will go back almost immediately to that old America that we knew, that was engaged with the world, that engaged with New Zealand," Gower, Newshub's former political editor, told The AM Show from Washington DC on Wednesday (NZ time).

"Things will change almost overnight when Biden takes over the White House in January, if he wins. Other than that, it will be a continuation of this instability."

Trump and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have had a patchy relationship, despite Labour MP Willie Jackson declaring the leaders "great mates" in 2019. The two have traded barbs over their respective responses to COVID-19 - with Trump facing widespread condemnation for his handling of the pandemic, compared to Ardern's internationally lauded leadership - and rumours Trump had confused Ardern for Justin Trudeau's wife in 2017.

The AM Show host and former political editor Duncan Garner said the ousting of Trump would reinstate a crucial link between Ardern and the White House, implying the Prime Minister is virtually invisible on the President's radar.

"How it will change for Jacinda Ardern is she will have a link to the White House, she'll get invited to the White House - she will never get invited with Trump there," Garner claimed.

He also suggested that a Biden presidency could potentially prove beneficial for New Zealand-US relations, the Democratic candidate being, ideologically, a better match with Ardern's values.

"[Trump] won't reach out. She doesn't have his cell phone number, like [John] Key had with Obama. She will get Biden's number like that and there will be a line of communication."

Gower urged New Zealanders to recognise the event for what it is - a landmark in history.

"People might find it frustrating to watch on TV - I know a lot of people in New Zealand do - but it's bigger than that. It's the instability for the world and what it could mean," he said.

"There's so many more reasons for people to care than it just being something to watch on TV. Ultimately, that's why this election has always been the biggest and most important and interesting in the world - because it will define the world for the next four years."

Stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the Trump-vs-Biden election here, or tune in for Newshub's live coverage on Three from 4pm.