6 ways the pandemic is poised to affect the fall elections

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As former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” In other words, big picture decisions or events ultimately have implications at home.

The same can be said for COVID-19. The contagion may have originated on the other side of the world, but it’s affected virtually every aspect of life. In fact, according to survey research conducted by Gallup, 81% of adults in the U.S. say coronavirus has caused “significant disruption” in their day-to-day affairs.

The nature of these changes, and how long they last, will become clearer over time. Yet some of these shifts are already apparent, as 2020 is an election year. Here are six ways the pandemic is poised to affect the events surrounding the first Tuesday in November:

  1. A second ‘Super Tuesday’ in June
    700 delegates are on the line in June, as the virus postponed elections that were originally scheduled for April and May.
  1. DNC pushed to August
    Set to take place in Milwaukee this year, the Democratic National Convention will now convene August 17-20. The initial plan was a July confab.
  1. ‘Virtual conventions’ still on the table
    Due to social distancing measures and the staggered nature in which cities are re-opening their economies, both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions may be conducted “virtually” to err on the side of caution. As of now, they’re slated to proceed as usual with gatherings in Milwaukee (DNC) and Charlotte (RNC).
  1. Shift in voter priorities
    The shutdown of the economy has led to massive job losses and contraction in gross domestic product. How candidates plan to revitalize the economy may prove to be the issue that is most important to voters.
  1. Voting by mail may be a reality
    Absentee voting is nothing new; circumstances that prevent someone from turning up at the polls allow them to cast their ballots early. However, several states are considering making this option available to more people to reduce gatherings and the risk of community spread. Some health experts believe coronavirus could ramp up again in the fall and winter.
  1. Lower voter turnout expected
    Many people have said they likely won’t return to restaurants and movie theaters even after stay-at-home advisories are lifted. This stance may result in fewer Americans casting their ballots.

Click here to listen to the Politics of a Pandemics webinar presented on April 22, 2020 by GSPM Director, Dr. Lara Brown.

Much like the virus, elections reshape society. With an online Master’s in Political Management from the George Washington University, you can learn the real-world skills that help campaigns adapt when forces beyond their control require a course correction. Apply today!

Gallup – Eight in 10 in U.S. Experiencing Significant Disruption
CNN – Democratic National Convention Pushed Back to August
NPR – As Coronavirus Delays Primary Season, States Weigh Expanding Absentee Voting. Roll Call – How Will Coronavirus Affect 2020 Elections?
USA Today – Coronavirus Delays Mean a Second Super Tuesday is on the Schedule for June
The Hill – Virtual Conventions May Be As Good – or Better – This Presidential Year
Boston Herald – Coronavirus Could Change the Way Americans Vote in 2020 and Beyond

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