Election 2020: Some Idle Speculations

Election 2020: Some Idle Speculations

Michael J. Nighan

 First the facts…

COVID-19 has ushered in changes to the lifestyle of Americans not seen since the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920.  Not the least being the impending changes to our presidential primary process.

As of March 17 Donald Trump will have locked up the Republican nomination, requiring only the official vote of the GOP convention to make him his party’s certified candidate for president in 2020. (See Trailing by 5 points, can Trump surpass Reagan?)

On the other hand, as of that date Joe Biden, despite being on a primary victory roll with an virtually insurmountable delegate lead over Bernie Sanders, will still be only half way to the 1,991 delegates he needs to cinch the Democratic nomination.

So far two states, Georgia and Louisiana, have postponed their Democratic presidential primaries.  Georgia from March 24 to May 19, and Louisiana from April 4 to June 20.  There can be no doubt that additional state primaries will also be pushed forward.

The Democratic convention is scheduled for July 13 – 16 in Milwaukee.

…then the questions

Now, ask yourself, what happens if the COVID-19 crisis stretches out for three or four months as seems possible?  How far into the future can the remaining Democratic primaries be pushed?

If primaries continue to be held despite the implementation of “social distancing”, which candidate’s supporters will be more likely to show up at the polls?  (Biden’s campaign has the momentum and the support of a wider range of the electorate, but his supporters tend to be older and hence more at risk from COVID-19.  Bernie’s supporters are more fanatical and, being younger, at a lower health risk from social interaction and so potentially more likely to get out an vote even though disheartened by Bernie’s failing campaign.)

What happens if primaries have to be cancelled before Biden garners the required 1,991 delegate votes?

What will be the response of Sanders and his embittered supporters if the Democratic National Committee amends the rules to award the nomination to the candidate with the most delegate votes at the convention even though that number does not reach 1,991?

Can the Democratic convention be delayed, or even moved?  If so, what is the last practical date it can be held before the November election?

To what extent will the Republicans and their foreign troll “allies” attempt to interfere in a modified Democratic primary and convention process?

Lastly, behind all this lurks the Big Question of how will an extended COVID-19 pandemic impact the campaigning for all elected offices –  local state or federal – between now and November?


EDITOR’S NOTE: Illness has affected American politics in the past, most notably William Henry Harrison’s death only a month into his term. As Nighan rightfully notes, “The impact of the sickness and death of W.H. Harrison was that his VP Tyler became the first unelected president.  But there’s no real connection between any past presidential campaign and today’s mess.”

On March 26, 1841, three weeks after his inauguration, President William Henry Harrison became ill with cold-like symptoms. Diagnosing Harrison with right lower lobe pneumonia, physicians placed heated suction cups on his bare torso, administered a series of bloodlettings to draw out the disease, followed by treatments of ipecac, castor oil, calomel, and finally with a boiled mixture of crude petroleum and Virginia snakeroot. All this only weakened Harrison further. Harrison died on April 4th, 1841. (Wikipedia)


Trailing by 5 points, can Trump surpass Reagan?

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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