Commentary: COVID’s social distancing forces virtual adjustments for Biden, Trump and other campaigns

Commentary: COVID’s social distancing forces virtual adjustments for Biden, Trump and other campaigns

In an era of deadly pandemic-spurred social distancing and mandated hibernation, the 2020 presidential election seems to have been moved to the back burner. Concern over how to best campaign for national and local elections amid a global pandemic has been the subject of debate among Democrats and Republicans.  Manny Sethi — a Republican first-time candidate running for Tennessee’s open Senate seat that’s being vacated by Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring — said he misses the world of full-on rallies and public forums. Sethi spoke with the Nashville Scene on the loss of person-to-person style campaigning due to the virus. “What we’re trying to do is recreate that feeling through these virtual town halls,” he is quoted as telling the Scene. Virtual campaigning is becoming a popular solution for those running for office. Joe Biden — who is going to be the Democratic nominee after he overwhelmed Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, spurring the latter to drop out — has been implementing virtual roundtables via live streams. Each of the “roundtables” cater to specific voter demographics. They also feature guests alongside Biden via remote video calls. “In some ways, this is the world that every digital person in every digital story you’ve ever written has said would come,” Biden digital director Rob Flaherty told BuzzFeed News. “We were just focused on getting him out there as soon as we could get him out there.” For President Trump, the halt on traditional campaigning is playing to his favor. As the sitting President, Trump’s coronavirus press conferences are broadcast daily and draw high ratings (averaging 8.5 million viewers). What stands in Trump’s way is the...