Carina Cole ’22 Features Editor
The coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on almost all aspects of life in the United States. In addition to obvious negative effects on day-to-day lives, the timing of the pandemic could not be worse in terms of America’s national election process. Due to necessary distancing precautions against the coronavirus, primary elections in some states, the national party conventions, and campaign activities have been postponed or are being conducted virtually. Thus, the presumptive candidates in the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, have significantly fewer opportunities to connect with voters. Clearly, the coronavirus is already affecting the election process, but what is much less clear is whether it will affect the outcome of the presidential election.
Many Americans have stopped paying attention or are paying much less attention to the 2020 election, and as a result, traditional campaign strategies have had less of an impact on the voting public. It is quite possible that President Trump may have an advantage over Vice President Biden due to the advantage of exposure given to him through the presidency, such as televised daily White House press briefings, whereas Biden is more limited in available methods of public outreach.
“The whole situation is going to positively affect Trump’s bid for re-election, and Trump has seen support from people he normally wouldn’t because of how he has handled the outbreak,” says Will Sokolski ’22. In the 2016 election, the presidential campaigns were the subject of constant and intensive news coverage, whereas now the coronavirus pandemic is the primary focus of the media. “People might not want to change leadership during this unprecedented time,” Caroline Kranich ‘20 speculates. For this reason Kranich believes the coronavirus may help Trump and hurt Biden in the fall election.
Others have a different perspective on the political effects of the pandemic. “The pandemic has definitely caused me to pay more attention to the 2020 election because that president will have a major job ahead of him making sure the US economically rebounds and to make Americans feel confident the country will return to normal,” says Aakash Koduru ’20. Carmen Martinez ’20 agrees, saying, “When a crisis hits, people start behaving differently. Things suddenly become important that people may not have found important before.”
Using social media, the presumptive nominees, particularly Joe Biden, have connected with voters online and proved that presidential campaigning can be done virtually. Voters also have criticized the federal government’s slow response in protecting the public from the coronavirus, which Koduru and others believe may affect Trump negatively in the 2020 election. Martinez stressed that it is important to come together regardless of political affiliation to fight a worldwide common enemy.
The coronavirus will have a major effect on the outcome of the 2020 election. We don’t yet know which candidate will benefit or be harmed most by the pandemic, but we do know that the American public must be aware of the political implications of the crisis with an eye to the elections in November.