By Elpidio R. Estioko
Whether we like it or not, the election of the next US president is dictated by the events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, corona will crown the next president of the United States!
From personal affairs to the US economy, COVID-19 has heavily affected all aspects of our lives. It caused public and private companies to either close or maintain a skeleton workforce for essential staff to keep the companies functioning.
As of today, according to the CDC, the number of people in the United States who died from COVID-19 surpassed 100,000 (105,873 to be exact) and the total cases of COVID-19 is 1,826,082 with 538,569 recovered from the virus. Because of these, all eyes and efforts of the government and other institutions are geared towards defeating, if not mitigating, the pandemic.
It led to unemployment of millions of employees (about 6.6 million lost their jobs according to the article written by Patricia Cohen and Tiffany Hsu published in New York Times) especially those who belong to small and medium-sized institutions.
The US economy is down, no doubt about it!
How about the 2020 elections? Is it affected by the pandemic? I would say, yes! The political landscape definitely is affected heavily and intertwined with the November 2020 presidential election. Already in some primaries, voters’ lives were compromised by voting, caucuses had been postponed. There are moves of postponing the November election, although the US Constitution doesn’t allow it unless something drastic will happen.
On November 3, 2020, the presidential vote is due to take place, which date was set by federal law and President Donald Trump has no power to delay it alone. That would require legislation enacted by Congress and signed by the president which outcome still remains remote… although many unthinkable events have happened lately.
According to the article The Economy and the Election by Amy Walter, “For as long as I’ve covered politics, the conventional wisdom has been that presidents win re-election in good economic times and they lose when the economy stinks. Ronald Reagan won re-election when the economy was booming. Jimmy Carter lost when we sunk into economic ‘malaise.’”
Apparently, I would say that the single-most factor is the economy which has historically been one of the key drivers of election victories and is now being dictated by the pandemic.
There is a relationship between economic conditions and how Americans vote in national elections, according to research. Political scientist Seth Masket’s work “shows that growth in real disposable income per capita is a good indicator to watch. Stronger growth in real income is linked to fewer seats lost by the president’s party in the House of Representatives, since midterm elections almost always punish the party in power.”
Economic conditions have historically been among the best indicators of presidential elections, and models based on those patterns suggest that Mr. Trump would be favored to win re-election… but the unpredictable occurred: the COVID-19 pandemic came and this may bring the economy down through Election Day.
Political life in America was fundamentally transformed by the pandemic affecting how candidates communicate with voters, raise money from donors and confront their opponents. Incumbents at every level, starting with Mr. Trump, will be judged on how they prepared for and managed the country through a crisis that has turned the life of nearly every voter upside down.
“This is the question that is going to dominate the election: How did you perform in the great crisis?” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma.
The duration of the election season itself is likely to be shortened significantly. Trump is now very eager to return to normal, so the economy allegedly will rebound considering that his re-election is very much dependent on the robust economy as he was experiencing before the pandemic occurred.
With Joe Biden now the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential race, concerns are being raised about how the pandemic could affect the election. “We’re already seeing some effects with campaign events being canceled and trying to navigate the Wisconsin primaries while also trying to socially distance,” writes Matt Bennett.
“There’s been presidential elections during a time of war, a time of recession, something like that,” said Aaron King, Political Science Program Coordinator at University of North Carolina Wilmington. “But I think that this is certainly pretty unique.”
King says playing politics during a pandemic can be tricky. He recognized that COVID-19 already began to affect the presidential primaries before Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race. While he suggests that it’s probably too early to say how this will affect voters going to the polls, “it will depend on the current state of things as we move into the fall.”
Despite these observations, I think that the pandemic is the crowning factor that will eventually anoint the next president since COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of the electoral system.
Corona will crown the next president!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org).