COVID-19 continues to disrupt and postpone most major events planned for 2020,
election officials have found themselves in an unprecedented predicament this
election season. So far, the coronavirus outbreak has impacted, or is poised to
impact, four major aspects of the elections: the primary schedule, campaign
trail, voter turnout, and incumbent performance.
adherence to social distancing guidelines and shelter-in-place orders states
have postponed presidential and congressional primary elections or moved to
most recent Democratic primary debate between Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and
Former Vice President Joe Biden was moved from California, had no live
audience, and neither candidate had a press center following the debate. Senator
Sanders exited the race, clearing the path for Former Vice President Joe Biden
to run against President Trump in November.
response to COVID-19’s effect on the primary schedule, the 2020 Democratic
National Convention has been postponed until August 17-20 (originally planned
for July) and will still be held in Milwaukee, Wis. To date, there have
been no changes announced for the 2020 Republican National Convention which is
scheduled for August 24-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
the general election (scheduled for November 3) is set by federal law, Congress
would need to pass legislation changing this date.
has also forced candidates to suspend in-person rallies and fundraisers and
move to digital engagement tactics such as podcasts and live broadcasts on
before the coronavirus outbreak, the 2020 election was expected to have a high
voter turnout; however, states without extensive early voting or voting by mail
measures experienced lower turnouts -- like Illinois, which reported a turnout
about 25% lower than 2016 primaries.
COVID-19 may impact the 2020 general election as incumbents at the federal,
state, and local level are likely to be judged on their preparation and
response to the coronavirus. Most incumbents have seen a bump in approval
ratings since the outbreak of the virus, likely caused by a quick or favorable initial
response to the virus, but a potential recession caused by the virus could
affect re-election bids, especially for President Trump.
This slide deck offers more information
on COVID-19’s election impact. Visit the COVID-19 Advocacy page for more