Will COVID-19 “Swing” the Election?


Chase Mandell, Contributor

On November 3rd, millions of Americans will have the opportunity to cast a vote in the 2020 presidential election. This election cycle, however, there is a worry that the results won’t accurately reflect the electorate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The third wave of COVID-19 is currently raging throughout the United States. Last week on October 23rd, the United States set a daily record with 83,757 new COVID-19 cases. While the virus is spiking in different regions of the country, the virus is having the biggest impact in several key swing states. For example, states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona are all seeing rapid increases in case numbers each week.

With no control of the pandemic in sight, many fear how COVID-19 may impact voter turnout on election day. A Pew Research study found that 85% of voters who are Democrat/Lean Democrat see COVID-19 as a major threat to the health of the U.S. population as a whole, compared to 46% of voters who are Republican/Lean Republican. Consequently, many fear that if COVID-19 is spiking in swing states, Democrats will be less likely to cast a vote on election day. 

Prominent Democrats are pushing for vote-by-mail and early in-person voting in order to combat this problem. So far, their efforts seem to be working. In swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, Democrats are currently winning the early vote. Republicans are banking on a strong Election Day turnout in order to turn the tide and win the presidency. 

With a large increase in early in-person voting due to COVID-19, long lines to vote are ubiquitous. In Wisconsin alone, people had to wait up to two hours to vote, and in Florida, some had to wait up to four hours. 

COVID-19 is not just impacting the turnout of voting in swing states but is also impacting which party people are voting for. North Carolina and Ohio, for instance, had extreme job losses compared to some of the other swing states, such as Florida. As a result, if the economy is a deciding factor for a voter, they may choose to vote for one party over another. 

Moreover, data show that Democratic states are handling COVID-19 better than their Republican counterparts. This could cause undecided voters in swing states to vote for Joe Biden if they believe Democrats can manage the pandemic better, giving him the final push to win the electoral college. In fact, 53% of U.S. adults believe Joe Biden would handle COVID-19 better than Donald Trump.

Photo Credit: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/04/07/wisconsinites-vote-midst-coronavirus-pandemic/2960420001/