Presidential race faces unprecedented challenge with COVID-19

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 6:10 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - President Trump’s visit to Northeast Wisconsin on Thursday signified that election season is officially underway in Wisconsin, but due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic the campaigns are facing unique challenges this year.

When it comes to connecting with and motivating voters leading up to election day in November, this election season will likely be unprecedented due to COVID-19.

“There are tested and true strategies campaigns always use, but this is such an anomalous year,” Charley Jacobs says. “We’re seeing states pivoting to all mail-in ballots, or encouraging individuals to use mail-in ballots; we have states that discourage or make it illegal to harvest ballots -- so, campaigns are going to have to come up with state by state strategies about how they’re going to get out the vote.”

Jacobs, a political science professor at St. Norbert College in De Pere, says with so many Americans’ lives still impacted in some way by the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump and Biden campaigns are likely taking the early polls with a grain of salt.

“One of the real difficulties is this year is going to be so different from what campaign experts usually think about when they’re thinking about analyzing the way in which a campaign is unfolding.”

As we’ve seen over the past three months, a lot can change. Jacobs expects the campaigns to constantly adapt in searching for ways to connect with voters.

“It’s really going to be a battle for the hearts and minds in voters who feel most comfortable at showing up, and so you’re going to have to convince them not only to vote for your candidate but to vote and put yourself potentially in harm’s way.”

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