our note in last week’s column, COVID-19 is becoming a major
issue in the 2020 local, state, and national elections. And Donald
Trump’s campaign is beginning to use it as a central weapon in
its reelection arsenal. But even more disturbing is that race is
being deployed as a largely silent strategy. Few print and broadcast
media outlets have acknowledged this fact.
is a blood sport, and the 2020 elections may prove to be a draconian
example of this oft-repeated maxim. Along with Voter ID, poll
closures, poll relocations, and other devious schemes, the
coronavirus may emerge as a major determinant in the final electoral
outcomes as the escalating death rates in minority communities may
serve to significantly depress voter turnout.
the states and cities designated as hot spots, the majority of those
found to be positive for COVID-19—and who are dying from
it--are African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American even
when they do not constitute a majority of the respective populations.
Most of them are middle-aged black men. Those who died suffered
from underlying health conditions resulting from of their economic
status and lack of access to health care.
situation is particularly acute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where all the
earliest reported deaths were of African American males. These
findings have been repeated in Racine and Madison, Wisconsin, two
other centers of the state’s minority populations. The
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (the state’s largest
newspaper) did not report these statistics by race. The community
became aware of this racial reality when the local TV outlet showed
pictures of the dead.
current example of the coronavirus political strategy in Wisconsin is
the Republican-controlled legislature’s refusal to heed the
request of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s (D) and Gov. Tony
Evers’s (D) to delay the April 7th primary due to
the coronavirus pandemic. The Republican Party recognized that Evers
2018 upset victory over incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) by 33,00
votes was fueled by minority voters from Milwaukee, Racine, and Dane
(city of Madison) counties.
there is a hotly contested Wisconsin State Supreme Court race on the
April 7th primary ballot, where the Republicans hold a
slim majority, Republicans feel holding the primary as scheduled
offers them their best chance to retain their voting margin on the
Court. They expect a lower minority voter turnout due to the
COVID-19 crisis which will aid their judicial candidate.
race will serve as a trial run for November 3, 2020. Based on the
current predictions, deaths from the coronavirus will likely be at
their apex at that time—disproportionately killing Wisconsin’s
minorities--and will have stoked even greater fear among minority
voters who will be more concerned about living than going to the
polls. Thus, Trump would carry Wisconsin again.
experience will be apt to be repeated in other COVID-19 hot spots in
2020 battleground states with significant minority and/or progressive
populations: Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Ohio, Virginia,
Colorado, Iowa, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire,
and North Carolina.
the metropolitan areas targeted are Detroit, Inkster, Pontiac, Grand
Rapids, Lansing, Pontiac, and Highland Park, Michigan; Philadelphia,
Pittsburgh, Chester, Harrisburg, and Erie, Pennsylvania; North Las
Vegas, Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City, and Henderson, Nevada; Richmond,
Petersburg, Norfolk, Newport News, and Portsmouth, Virginia; and
Miami-Dade, Osceola, Palm Beach, Collier, Orange, and Hillsborough
Counties in Florida.
are similarly situated cities and counties in Colorado, Georgia,
Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.
Employing these voter suppression tactics and assisted by the Russian
campaign of disinformation, the Trump campaign is poised to repeat
and expand its 2016 advantages for victory. This could be especially
helpful for down ballot Republican state-level candidates and those
for the U.S. House and Senate.
is set to be one of the deciding factors in 2020 elections and could
determine who controls the U.S. House, Senate, and several state
legislatures. Unfortunately, few Democrats are taking this into
account in a significant way as they run their races. They continue
to misjudge the depths to which Trump will go to win. And the
general public accepts it.
press briefings have enabled him to replace his bi-weekly or monthly
campaign rallies with daily reports which essentially serve the same
purpose. He continues to lie about the state of the disaster,
insults reporters who attempt to hold him accountable, and is able to
politically feed the rabid members of his base of support who have
rewarded him with his highest job approval rating and a high level of
approval for his handling of COVID-19.
Bernie Sanders’s promotion of universal health care, student
debt cancellation, free public college, a universal basic income,
reversal of food stamp cuts, a moratorium on evictions and
foreclosures, and his other progressive policies for working families
are receiving a second look. Democrats and some Republicans are
giving them more serious consideration as they shelter in place at
home, many without employment and a loss of health care.
the coronavirus calamity persists and intensifies, Bernie’s
message is resonating with the masses of Americans who are
increasingly anxious about their present and future. With 27
Democratic primary contests remaining, and the rapidly changing
political landscape, Biden should not take Bernie for granted.
is reinforcing his messages on his digital platform, while Joe Biden
(as did Hillary during a similar period in 2016) is preparing to
assume the office of president. He and his campaign staff are
comfortably riding the wave of his high poll numbers and have not
reflected on the COVID-19 impact on his primary and his possible
presidential race. They have basically dismissed Bernie as a
challenge and are underrating Trump and his use of the coronavirus.
the electoral dust settles on November 3rd, there is a distinct
likelihood that Donald John Trump will be reelected to a second term
as a result of his exploitation of the coronavirus catastrophe.