March 18, 2020

Coronavirus and The Primaries

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“Joe Biden swept the three March 17 primaries: Arizona, Florida and Illinois.” Politico

“Ohio will postpone its presidential nominating election planned for Tuesday, despite a judge’s refusal to endorse a postponement, because the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus makes it too dangerous, Governor Mike DeWine said [on Monday night].” Reuters

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From the Left

The left generally supports delaying the primaries and sees Biden as the presumptive nominee.

“The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday warned that states postponing their primaries in order to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic could be heavily penalized… The DNC could instead have decided to penalize states that go forward with elections amid a public health catastrophe. Its decision to focus on Ohio instead sends a clear signal that the party brass wants the in-person elections to go ahead, flying recklessly in the face of new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House…

“Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, who has been among the most proactive leaders in the country in mitigating the pandemic, moved late Monday to postpone the primary. But a judge rejected his order, insisting that it would set a bad precedent, and ordered the elections to go forward. DeWine then did something extraordinary: Along with the secretary of state and public health commissioner, he barred the elections as a public health emergency… The way that DeWine made the decision is hostile to our bedrock of democratic values — and yet it was the right decision. Therein lies the true threat to democracy.”
Ryan Grim, The Intercept

“There is no reason to believe DeWine was acting in bad faith or with malice; among governors, his response to the pandemic has been seen as the gold standard. But ham-fisted efforts to shut down elections should trouble all Americans, no matter how justified they may be. Almost half of the states are slated to hold primary elections in the next few months, and all of them will be holding the general election in November. Ohio’s experience shows why every state legislature must enact a universal vote-by-mail option as quickly as possible.”
Matt Ford, New Republic

Some, however, argue that “What's perhaps most comforting to me is that Democrats really believe in democracy, and they weren't about to let even a pandemic keep them from turning out to nominate Biden and, ultimately, defeat Donald Trump… American voters have often drawn on a deep reserve of courage. We voted during the Civil War. We voted during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. We voted through two World Wars. And African-Americans registered and voted even when racist terrorists cursed them, beat them and murdered them. Our economy is teetering. Our health system is tottering. But our democracy -- at least among Democrats ----is still standing strong.”
Paul Begala, CNN

“Many of the twenty-odd candidates [initially] in the race, from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, were battling for the favor of progressive voters. They talked about Trump not as an aberration but as a symptom of an underlying condition afflicting the country. Biden didn’t approach things that way. He was the normalcy candidate. He asked voters not to look ahead, to potential policies like Medicare for All or free public colleges, but to look back, to the Obama Administration and its relative stability…

“All year, Democrats argued over what ‘return to normal’ politics really meant. What would a return to normal be for undocumented immigrants, or the uninsured, or people whose lives were being constricted by student loans? But now, with many Americans shut up in their homes, or soon to be, many voters continue to say that a return to normal sounds pretty good.”
Eric Lach, New Yorker

“It’s interesting to consider how this primary might have gone if it had begun during, or in the wake of, the coronavirus crisis, as opposed to being violently interrupted by it. Certainly, recent events have gone a long way to revealing the cracks in American society that Sanders has tried throughout his two presidential runs to clarify, from the yawning gaps in our health care system to the precariousness of America’s working class. Many of the solutions being put forth—and upon which, perhaps, we may ultimately settle—bear the imprimatur of the political radical: direct payments to citizens, bailouts for small businesses, and medical interventions covered by the government…

“It may go down as one of the great ironies of this era that at the very moment when the perfect circumstances emerged to beckon forth a radical vision of the future, the best avatar for that brand of politics found himself inexorably fading from the American political scene.”
Jason Linkins, New Republic

From the Right

The right supports delaying the primaries and calls on Bernie Sanders to drop out.

The right supports delaying the primaries and calls on Bernie Sanders to drop out.

“Is postponing a primary election a totalitarian move? Or is this a concession to the fact that we simply can’t do ‘social distancing’ at the same time that people are congregating in one place such as polling places — many of them elderly! — and interacting with a lot of strangers? A lot of poll workers are getting up there in years, and that’s precisely the demographic that health officials want to keep self-quarantined or away from large groups of strangers…

“The checks and balances of constitutional government are still being honored. This is not paving the way for President Trump to cancel the November elections, as many ill-informed individuals are contending. The president doesn’t have the power to reschedule a federal election… Theoretically, Congress could move Election Day back a few weeks (or ahead!) but it cannot change the term of a U.S. president. One way or another, on January 20, someone’s getting sworn in.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“How do you hold primaries when much of the country’s being asked not to go out in public?… the [New York] state Board of Elections needs to craft vote-by-mail and drop-off ballot procedures before April 28, in case the shutdown lasts that long. The Legislature can pass the necessary laws, making it plain that this isn’t absentee voting, which the state Constitution severely limits, but special emergency voting…

“The Democratic National Committee, which is mulling penalties for states that change their rules suddenly, needs to back off, too: It’s a crisis, and people are doing their best. Both parties should be figuring out how to hold conventions via video, if it comes to that… We hope to see familiar in-person Election Day balloting again the norm, but the emphasis for now is on making democracy work while under duress.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“These are not normal circumstances. Holding additional primaries now presents a public-health risk… Delay can be a workaround when an election still needs to be held, but this one does not. Nobody will care if all the remaining Republican primaries are canceled. The only reason to keep voting on the Democratic side is because of Bernie Sanders. Ending his campaign now would be the right thing for Bernie to do, for the good of the country. And even in strictly partisan terms, it would be a help to his own party’s all-but-presumptive nominee.”
Dan McLaughlin, National Review

“It was irresponsible of Bernie not to quit yesterday… Imagine any other two candidates in this race separated by the delegate gap that currently exists between Biden and Sanders and the sort of enormous polling momentum Biden’s seeing right now and tell me that the second-place candidate in that scenario shouldn’t have thrown in the towel already in the name of keeping people away from the polls while a killer virus is circulating…

“There is a double standard here between Bernie and other candidates but it’s a double standard that favors Sanders. Because he’s leading a movement, a ‘revolution,’ his fans are likely more willing to support a dangerous sustained exercise in futility than supporters of a more mundane candidate would be.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“Biden now has 1,121 delegates. He needs at least 1,991 to win the Democratic Party’s nomination, and his performance in Illinois suggests that the other Midwestern states that have not yet held their elections — Ohio and Indiana, to name a few — will give the former vice president the delegates he needs. This is significant not just because Biden won, but also because Sanders lost. The Midwest is home to many of the blue-collar workers Sanders has claimed to represent. Clearly, Sanders doesn’t have as much sway among the working class as he advertised…

“Biden’s Midwestern wins will also affect President Trump’s standing in the region. Trump lost Illinois in 2016 and will almost certainly lose it again this year, but he did win other Midwestern states, including Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Biden’s familiarity and popularity in these states will make it much more difficult for Trump to replicate these wins in November. A lot could change between now and November. But Biden’s ability to connect with and appeal to the Midwestern working class poses a serious challenge for Trump’s campaign.”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

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