How the Coronavirus is Impacting Campaigns

The shift in political life occurring this election year.


Biden and Sanders.


With the coronavirus being declared a global pandemic in the middle of the scheduled Democratic primaries, and officials urging people to stay home and practice social distancing, it is safe to say the virus has thrown a wrench in the nomination process. Not only have 15 states pushed back their primaries (or switched to voting by mail), the Democratic National Convention has been pushed back to August 17th from its former date of July 13th. 

The virus has put a halt to face to face campaigning and now most of the candidates rhetoric revolves around it and how the country should proceed. Even when campaigning with traditional methods begins again, the nature of the country’s political discussions will likely be a lot different. Now, at the forefront of these discussions will likely be how this public health threat was handled and how to handle the major economic downturn the country is facing. 

How are the candidates for president reacting now?

Joe Biden

In the following weeks since the virus was deemed a global pandemic, Joe Biden made infrequent public appearances and avoided outlining any specific plan to handle the effects of the virus until the past few days. The hashtag #whereisJoeBiden was trending on twitter as constituents called for the frontrunner democratic candidate to be more vocal during this global crisis.  However, recently Biden has begun to criticize the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and even offered to call Trump and discuss how to proceed dealing with the outbreak. 

Bernie Sanders

On the other hand, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has been very vocal about the threats of the coronavirus since it became a major threat to the United States. He has continued to criticize the healthcare system calling into question its ability to serve every citizen in a crisis situation like we face now and continuing to push for medicare for all regardless of the circumstance. On Friday, Sanders released his “Priorities for the Next Coronavirus Relief Package” in which he proposes ideas like medicare for all, guaranteed and paid sick leave for workers, expanding programs like Meals on Wheels, and the suspension of payments on rent and forms of debt during the pandemic. Despite his efforts during this global crisis, Sanders admits that his path to presidency is still “a narrow path”. 

A recent tweet from Bernie Sanders.

President Donald Trump

In upcoming elections incumbents are going to be facing extreme criticism over their response to the outbreak, with Donald Trump being at the top of that group. An Ipsos poll released this Friday shows that 52% of respondents disapprove of how the president has handled the outbreak. As the United States has recently become the country with the most coronavirus cases, people have criticized the President for being slow to react. The administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak in China on January 3rd and took almost two months to respond to the threat it posed on the United States. Due to the rally ‘round the flag effect, politicians typically see a significant increase in approval ratings during a crisis, and most leaders have seen that recently. However, Trump has only seen a modest increase, which many have taken as an indication that he is underperforming.