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Mar 31 2020

2020 Presidential Primaries: A Brief Pause

Right now the nation is in the midst of a pandemic with the news looking grimmer each day. The crisis has effected everyone with closures of schools, restaurants, places of worship, parks, and gyms. Rules are in place on travel, staying home and keeping distance from others. Don’t forget to wash you hands for at least 20 seconds and don’t touch your face. These precautions are going to be the new normal for far longer than April, which has necessitated putting the 2020 primaries on pause.

The DNC has encouraged states with upcoming contests to expand their use of voting by mail, no-excuse absentee voting, curbside ballot drop-offs and early voting. With the pandemic threatening voter turnout in November, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested vote-by-mail capabilities should be scaled up ahead of 2020’s remaining elections, shielding voters from the threats in-person voting could pose amid the coronavirus pandemic. The GOP, of course, is opposed to any move to increase access to voting since they would lose more elections.

So far 14 states have rescheduled voting to a later date.

April 7: Wisconsin

April 10: Alaska (now voting entirely by mail)

April 17: Wyoming (now voting entirely by mail)

April 26: Puerto Rico (postponed from March 29)

April 28: Ohio (postponed from March 17)

May 2: Guam (caucuses), Kansas

May 12: Nebraska, West Virginia

May 19: Georgia (new date), Oregon

May 22: Hawaii (now voting entirely by mail)

June 2: Connecticut (new date), Delaware (new date), D.C., Indiana (new date), Maryland (new date), Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania (new date), Rhode Island (new date), South Dakota
June 6: Virgin Islands (caucuses)

June 9: D.N.C. deadline

June 20: Louisiana (postponed from April 4)

June 23: Kentucky (new date), New York (new date)

As you can see, June 2 is going o be more super for the Democrats than any Super Tuesday to date with 668 delegates up for grabs. States who hold their primaries after the DNC deadline could lose half their delegates for the convention.

And the rules also say any candidate campaigning in a state with a contest outside of the DNC’s designated primary calendar will not be awarded any delegates from that state. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, the last two candidates in the primary race, aren’t physically campaigning in New York (or any other state), but the DNC defines “campaigning” broadly as being inclusive of but “not limited to”:

Purchasing print, internet, or electronic advertising that reaches a significant percentage of the voters in the aforementioned state; hiring campaign workers; opening an office; making public appearances; holding news conferences; coordinating volunteer activities; sending mail, other than fundraising requests that are also sent to potential donors in other states; using paid or volunteer phoners or automated calls to contact voters; sending emails or establishing a website specific to that state; holding events to which Democratic voters are invited; attending events sponsored by state or local Democratic organizations; or paying for campaign materials to be used in such a state.

The DNC further notes its Rules and Bylaws Committee can add to this list and has final say over whether a campaign’s activities are in violation of this rule. That means that although, for instance, podcasting isn’t included in this list, Biden’s new podcast could perhaps be seen as being in violation of this rule, given it is distributed nationwide, including to New York, Louisiana, and Kentucky — all states that now have post-June 9 primaries.

How the DNC will handle that under the circumstances isn’t known.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has decided he will stay in the race for the Democratic nomination, at least through June, even though he is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in both delegates won and the polling. The delays have not changed the course of the race, so far, Biden has been awarded 1217 delegates while Sanders has 914 which is a nearly impossible gap to close.

According to FiveThirtyEight, average polling shows Biden with 19% lead over all. Biden is also projected to sweep the remaining primaries and caucuses.

The November race for the oval office is still up in the air. With the administrations mishandling of the pandemic, Trump’s overall approval is still hovering in the mid 40’s which is where it has been since he was elected.

FiveThirtyEight has some good news about the Senate as new polls and new candidates give Democrats some hope of taking control that body.

New polls have shown Democratic challengers ahead of GOP incumbents, the party is recruiting strong candidates, and, perhaps most importantly given the tight correlation between presidential and Senate voting, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat who has polled the best against President Trump, has become the party’s likely presidential nominee.

The most likely outcome is still that Republicans maintain control of the Senate, though perhaps with a reduced majority: The status quo favors them, and most of the states where the Senate will be decided lean red. (As a refresher, Republicans currently have 53 Senate seats to Democrats’ 47,1 meaning Democrats need to flip four seats, on net, to take control — or three if they also win the vice presidency.) But Democrats have expanded the map to the point where they have a lot more pick-up opportunities than Republicans do, so they have a lot of upside.

These are the pickup opportunities:

 

State Incumbent Incumbent Party Rating
Minnesota Tina Smith D Likely D
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen D Likely D
New Mexico OPEN D Likely D
Michigan Gary Peters D Lean D
Arizona* Martha McSally R Toss-up
Colorado Cory Gardner R Toss-up
North Carolina Thom Tillis R Toss-up
Maine Susan Collins R Toss-up/Lean R
Alabama Doug Jones D Lean R
Georgia* Kelly Loeffler R Lean R
Iowa Joni Ernst R Lean R
Kansas OPEN R Lean R
Montana Steve Daines R Lean R
Georgia David Perdue R Likely R
Kentucky Mitch McConnell R Likely R
Texas John Cornyn R Likely R

We still have seven months until election day. Hopefully, the pandemic will have slowed and we wil be rid of the virus in the Oval Office.