The first U.S. Coronavirus case was reported on January 20th. Since then, 19,155 Americans have tested positive and 250 have died. There are many consequences of this pandemic but it’s sure to affect the 2020 presidential election. Here are ten predictions.
1.The Coronavirus pandemic will not be over quickly and, therefore, it will affect the conduct of the presidential election. The Democratic convention is scheduled to open July 13th. It seems unlikely that it will convene in its normal form.
Recently, Donald Trump stated that he expects the pandemic to go on until “July or August.” Some experts believe it may go for a year or more — until a vaccine is developed to deal with the Coronavirus. Therefore, it’s likely that the pandemic will be with us for, at least, the next six months and dramatically affect the conduct of the presidential election.
2. The pandemic will affect the economy. It’s obvious that the Coronavirus pandemic will impact the economy: the stock market (DJIA) has fallen over 10,000 points; there’s been a spike in unemployment claims; and economists are predicting that the U.S. economy has slipped into a recession — with negative growth for at least the next two quarters.
To say the least, times are dire. Americans have to fear the Coronavirus and the collapse of our economy. (It seems the two are intertwined; the economy will not recover until the course of the pandemic is more predictable.)
Obviously, this recession will be fodder for the 2020 election.
3. All aspects of the Republican and Democratic political campaigns will be impacted by the pandemic and recession. We’ve already seen the end of political rallies and conventional — press-the-flesh — fundraisers.
At the same time the Coronavirus crisis has deepened, Joe Biden has emerged as the presumptive Democratic candidate. In the meantime, Donald Trump is on the news each morning, playing the role of “wartime President” in the daily Coronavirus press briefing. The question for Biden is how can he get a reasonable amount of media time.
4. The format of the political conventions will be altered. The Democratic convention is in July and the Republican convention will occur in August. It’s unlikely that the pandemic will have sufficiently abated to permit these event to go forward in their usual manner; no doubt there will be “virtual” conventions.
There are all sorts of logistical issues to be solved in the virtual convention format: how will votes be counted? How will typical convention items — such as the Party platforms — be determined?
5. Some prominent politicians will be infected. Two members of the House of Representatives have tested positive for the Coronavirus and approximately twenty others are in “self-quarantine.” (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/09/politics/coronavirus-lawmakers-quarantine-isolation/index.html) At least one member of the White House staff has tested positive and others are in self-quarantine.
It’s only a matter of time before a major American political figure tests positive for the Coronavirus. When this happens, it’s conceivable that the course of the election may be impacted. (For example, a Senator — up for reelection — may be stricken.)
6. Congress will change the way it votes. At the moment, Congressional votes require Senators or Representatives to come to the floor of their respective chambers. It’s highly likely that these rules will change, permitting members of Congress to vote without leaving their regional offices. (Obviously, this change has security consequences.)
7. Both the Biden and the Trump campaign will be impacted by the pandemic. The crisis will particularly hurt Donald Trump (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/09/3-ways-coronavirus-could-end-trumps-presidency/ ): a. The state of the economy had worked in Trump’s favor but now the economy has gone into the tank. b. Trump has done a terrible job handling the pandemic and this will hurt him in the polls. c. The current situation emphasizes the need for an improved healthcare system and Trump has taken many actions to undermine the current healthcare system. In addition, moving the presidential campaign into a virtual format will hurt Trump because it will deprive him of his big rallies.
On the other hand, Trump has amassed a war chest of millions of dollars intended to go after the Democratic candidate via social media. This strategy could give Trump a huge head start over Biden.
8. Biden and Trump will definitely debate. The first presidential debate is scheduled for September. Before the pandemic hit, Trump was making noises that suggested he would not debate the Democratic candidate. (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/us/politics/trump-presidential-debate-democrat.html) Now he doesn’t have a choice. At the moment, Real Clear Politics shows Biden with a 7.4 percent lead over Trump and, as the pandemic/recession plays out, the gap will widen. Trump will complain about the debate format and moderator, but he will be forced to debate.
9. The debate issues will be shaped by the pandemic. If the presidential debate were to be held today, the issues would be the economy, healthcare, and presidential leadership. Biden would have the advantage.
10. The format of the November election will be impacted by the pandemic. On November 3rd, it’s likely that vast swaths of the United States will still be under orders to “shelter in place.” This means that most states will have to offer residents the choice of voting by mail. (29 states already permit some form of voting by mail.)
Or maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps this will all be over in a week. In any event, we should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Stay safe.