Mar 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

A campaign season without crowds

vote pin with face mask
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Cancelled rallies, debates with no audiences, contingency plans for conventions and ballot-casting: this is campaigning in the age of coronavirus.

The state of play: President Trump declared coronavirus a national emergency. Trump, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders all cancelled large-scale events this week and rolled out coronavirus policy platforms.

  • Louisiana is postponing the state's Democratic primary until the summer.
  • Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez told Axios' Jonathan Swan in an HBO interview taped March 9 that he has no plans to cancel this summer's convention in Milwaukee. But the DNC is monitoring the situation "every single day."
  • Tomorrow's Democratic debate moved from Arizona to CNN's Washington studio with no live audience, and Univision's Jorge Ramos withdrew as a moderator because he may have been exposed to the virus.

The bottom line: Politics is fundamentally about engaging people. This is America's biggest test of what it means to campaign without crowds in the modern age — whether disenfranchisement and lower turnout are inevitable, or virtual interactions can fill the void.

Go deeper: Margaret and Dan Primack discuss the impact on campaigning on Pro Rata.

Go deeper