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.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

More Show less

Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

More Show less

In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

More Show less

When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

More Show less

YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

More Show less

Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal