The US presidential race and COVID-19 - all you need to know

by Jacqueline Holloway

Amidst all the panic surrounding COVID-19, other current affairs are being overshadowed.

Ongoing still is the U.S. 2020 presidential race between the Republicans and the Democrats; election is scheduled for 3 November 2020.

The 48th U.S. President Donald Trump has launched a reelection campaign as the Republican Primary. On the Democrats side, there were originally 29 major candidate campaigns, which has become the largest field of candidates for any political party in current American politics.

As it stands currently, Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the electoral race, leaving only former Vice President Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in the running. A total of 1 991 delegates are needed to win the nomination, of which Biden is leading with 1 217. Furthermore, Sanders has suspended his campaign to address a more severe issue affecting hundreds of thousands of lives: COVID-19.

[Map Image - (270towin)]

The U.S. electoral system has a lot of different elements to it, and can be rather tricky to understand. First, it starts with something called a primary or, occasionally, a caucus. This is a process by which the respective party (Republican or Democrat) selects their presidential nominee - the job of the nominees are to win over delegates, who nominate the candidates. In a primary election, voters go to a polling place or mail their ballots.

A caucus is a little more complicated - it is an hours-long meeting with multiple rounds of balloting until one candidate emerges victorious. The primary season in the electoral race starts with the Iowa caucuses, followed by caucuses in Nevada and primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Presidential candidates spend a lot of time in these states leading up to the first voting. Currently, Biden is in the lead with 1 217 delegates, while Biden follows up with 914.

[Joe Biden Image - (CNBC)]

The respective parties then hold their national conventions. This is pretty much a big party with an inclusion of politics and business. Party delegates fill the city and host an event in a big arena where they say something positive about their state and cheer for their presidential nominee.

And. of course, you can’t have a national convention without the presidential nominee saying something as well!

The Democratic national convention is scheduled to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 13-16 July while the Republican party will host theirs in Charlotte, North Carolina on 24-27 August. After the national conventions, the real presidential race begins.

Finally, there is the electoral college, which is what determines who will be president of the United States. All of the 50 states are given a specified number of electoral votes, 538 votes overall, which are based on the number of congressional districts, based on the total population. Presidential candidates need a majority of electoral votes for an outright win.

However, it is possible for a candidate to get all votes of a state by default if they win the state through the aforementioned process of primaries and caucuses. This makes it possible for a candidate to win the electoral vote but lose by popular vote, as is the case with Trump in 2016 and Bush in 2000.

The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed had a number of implications on the electoral race. On 10 March, Biden and Sanders cancelled planned campaign evening events and upcoming in-person campaigning and campaign rallies. To further specify about Sanders’ aforementioned notion to suspend his campaign he hasn’t dropped out of and delegates can still vote for him, he and his allies are just focusing on providing comic relief amidst the COVID-19 panic. On 15 March, the 11th Democratic debate was hosted at CNN studios in Washington D.C. without an audience.

[Bernie Sanders Image - (CNBC)]

A large number of states have also postponed their primaries to later dates, including Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana. Many believe that the 2020 elections have different candidates, issues, and electorates, therefore all eyes are on the Democratic party to see if they can overthrow the Trump legislation. Warren has dropped out of the presidential race, leaving only Biden and Sanders, and the race for the presidential nominee for the Democratic party continues.

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