Corona campaign 2020

Corona campaign 2020

The US presidential matchup is now all but set. Short of a personal health crisis, Joe Biden will be the Democrat who battles Donald Trump in November. What should we expect from that race?

History teaches us that the candidates with the most cash and the best campaign organizations tend to win—and that debate performances, choice of running mates, and the spectacle of party nominating conventions matter less.

No one can say whether coronavirus will still be infecting a large number of Americans in six months. But if it is, we might have to throw all the conventional wisdom about elections out the window. Sure, US voters and candidates have navigated election year crises many times before, but the impact of Covid-19 on the physical realities of campaigning would be unprecedented in the modern era. Here's how:


The conventions – Although the spectacle of the summer conventions is generally long forgotten by election day, they do provide an important national stage for the candidates to generate excitement and highlight the key messages of their campaigns. This is particularly important for a candidate running against a sitting president. But coronavirus might well cause the conventions to be cancelled. Crucially, since Biden and the Democrats are scheduled to go first – in mid July – they have less time to decide on whether to hold the event. The Republican convention is in August.

Money – Candidates generally have to spread their campaign war chests over a large number of states. For now, President Trump has a huge advantage in money and campaign infrastructure. But as presumptive nominee, Biden will soon have the full resources of the Democratic Party behind him—and his billionaire former rival Mike Bloomberg looks set to help by spending big on advertising in the 6-8 most competitive states (see here).

Coronavirus can make a difference here too. By limiting the number of rallies and other public appearances Trump and Biden can make, the virus could allow both campaigns to focus their resources more on key battleground states. Shrinking the arena of competition means both sides will have more than enough money to win.

Debates – The historical evidence says that debate performances rarely (if ever) make a decisive difference in presidential election outcomes (see here). But if coronavirus lasts long enough to cancel rallies and the conventions, the televised debates will become the only high-profile opportunity to see the two candidates on live TV.

Running mates – There is little evidence that the choice of vice presidential running-mate matters much for election results. (See here). But when two men in their 70s face the stresses of running for president during a national health crisis, voters might take more interest in the people who would stand next in line.

In the end, the 2020 US presidential election will probably come down to two questions:

1. Can Joe Biden unite Democrats? In 2008, Barack Obama overcame resistance from some disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters who had formed a group called "Party Unity My Ass." In 2016, Clinton failed to persuade supporters of Bernie Sanders to vote for her in large enough numbers in key states. For now, everyone should assume that Republican voters show up en masse to vote for Trump. To win, Biden must now find a way to appeal to at least some skeptical Sanders voters.

2. Can President Trump offer the leadership needed to ensure that coronavirus doesn't erase the economic gains that are central to his appeal for many voters? Can he manage the health crisis in a way that doesn't undermine public confidence in his competence?

Let the race begin.

Demography is destiny. That ominous-sounding pronouncement, credited to French philosopher Auguste Comte, is today taken to mean that a nation's fate depends on the youthfulness of its population. For a poor country to become rich, it needs lots of young people ready to work, to support those too old or too young to work, and to pay taxes. This is called the "demographic dividend."

That's an important part of China's success story. Over the past 40 years, more than one billion people have emerged from poverty in China. Waves of young people surged from the countryside into cities to work in factories. The state invested in education, and wages helped young workers, and then their children, go to school. The state also began a drive to develop the technologies of the future, by any means necessary. In China, once dirt-poor, hundreds of millions have created a middle class.

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Do we spend too much time thinking about our own carbon footprints and not enough time thinking about bigger factors? Climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert acknowledges it's necessary for individuals to make changes in the way they live, but that isn't the number one priority.

"What would you do to try to move this battleship in a new direction? It requires public policy levers. And it requires … some pretty serious legislation." Ian Bremmer spoke with Kolbert, an award-winning journalist and author and staff writer at The New Yorker, on a new episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Watch the episode: Can We Fix the Planet the Same Way We Broke It?

Not everyone thinks that President Biden's decision to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan by 9/11/21 is a good idea. Conservative Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), a combat-decorated Green Beret with multiple tours in Afghanistan, thinks that the US still needs to maintain a small presence in the country to avoid incurring "massive risks." In a spirited discussion with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, Waltz, who served as counterterrorism advisor in the George W. Bush administration, argues, "The next 9/11, the next Pulse Night Club, which is right on the edge of my congressional district, the next San Bernardino, that's now on Biden's watch. He owns it with this decision." Their conversation is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, which airs on US public television starting Friday, April 23. Check local listings.

Vaccines are the best hope to end the COVID-19 pandemic. But rich countries are hogging most of the doses, with more than 83 percent of shots administered to date having gone to residents in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Most poor countries will have to wait years to achieve widespread vaccination, according to one study.

To address this inequity some stakeholders are pushing hard for waivers to intellectual-property (IP) rights through World Trade Organization trade rules so that manufacturers in poorer countries can make their own vaccines locally. India and South Africa have been leading the charge, which would essentially mean that deep-pocketed pharma companies like New York-based Pfizer, for instance, would have to hand over the keys to the kingdom, allowing local companies in New Delhi and Johannesberg to make generic versions of their vaccines.

Unsurprisingly, the debate has gotten fiery, with passionate arguments emerging both for and against.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What are the Russians up to against Ukraine?

We simply don't know, except the fact that they're concentrating a huge amount of military forces. And you don't do that for nothing or for fun. They are there for a purpose, to have pressure or to undertake limited to larger operations. We simply don't know. And when Putin delivered his State of the Union speech the other day, he didn't say a thing about this. They are now talking about withdrawing the forces. But let's wait and see. They have talked about withdrawing forces from Syria for a long time, but we haven't seen that as of yet.

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Australia rips up Belt & Road deal: Australia cancelled two 2018 deals signed between Victoria, Australia's wealthiest state, and the Chinese government, that committed the two sides to working together on initiatives under China's Belt and Road infrastructure development program. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the agreements "were adverse to our foreign relations." Similar deals between Victoria and institutions in Iran and Syria were also abandoned by the Australian government this week, under a 2020 law that allows Canberra to nullify international agreements struck at local and state level. (Australian universities say the "foreign veto bill" amounts to "significant overreach.") Meanwhile, Beijing hit back, calling the move "unreasonable and provocative," and accusing Canberra of further stoking divisions after a series of escalatory moves by both sides that have seen China-Australia relations deteriorate to their worst point in decades. Chinese investment in Australia dropped by 62 percent last year, a massive blow for Australia's export-reliant economy.

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50: The US will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade. The Biden administration's commitment, double the goal set by Barack Obama almost six years ago, was announced to coincide with a virtual Earth Day climate summit attended by dozens of world leaders.

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