Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: May 9-15, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.        

Notable Quotes of the Week

“Bottom line: By making it a little easier to vote, voting by mail probably increases the likelihood of the marginal Democratic voter engaging in the process. (Though younger and lower-income voters, who tend to vote at lower rates, also tend to not take advantage of voting by mail.) But it also makes it easier for more habitual older voters, who tend to vote more Republican than younger voters, to cast a ballot. Thus, on balance, any associated partisan effects from voting by mail have tended to cancel out.

We should be careful to apply past patterns to 2020, though. The states that moved to universal voting did so gradually, over several election cycles. So we’ve never seen anything on the scale of what we might see in 2020. The obvious implication is that efforts to expand absentee voting in a pandemic might work differently. And maybe there will be partisan differences in who chooses to vote by mail, as we saw in Wisconsin’s primary.

But we may also learn something more about how states implement voting-by-mail systems and what those impacts are. (For example, is postage prepaid? How easy is it to request a ballot? How easy is it to correct a rejected ballot?) We may also see that different campaign tactics are more effective in getting people to vote by mail than getting people to vote in person. At the very least, we’ll almost certainly see tremendous variation on both counts — variation that will give us a new cottage industry of studies that refine our understanding of how vote by mail impacts turnout, or at least how it impacted turnout in 2020.”

– Lee DrutmanFiveThirtyEight

“Democrats are now the party of ‘closed’ and Republicans the party of ‘open.’ Generally speaking, Democrats believe we need to keep restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, and Republicans demand we open businesses to save the economy. Both have a point, and time will tell which side is advocating the wiser plan. …

Ultimately, the trajectory of the pandemic will determine which political party was right or wrong. The virus will determine the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Independent voters decide close elections, and they will break for the party that got it right on how to best manage COVID-19. Whichever party gets it wrong can spin the facts, but they will only convince their die-hard supporters, not the swing voters each ticket will need to prevail in November. The polling on the pandemic illuminates that time and again, partisan Republicans are on one side of the issue, partisan Democrats on the other, while the average American is in the middle. With this in mind, it only makes sense that those independent voters will remain in the middle through the 2020 elections but lean toward whatever political party was ultimately ‘right’ about how to best cope with COVID-19.”

– Gary MeltzRealClearPolitics

Week in Review

Biden and Trump campaigns, party committees raise over $60 million each in April

Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised $60.5 million in April, and Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $61.7 million.

DNC considers contingency plans

On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee unanimously passed a resolution giving the Democratic National Convention Committee the power to “make the necessary changes to the format, size, date or other aspects in order to conduct a safe convention.” The resolution will go before the full DNC for a vote.

Biden and Trump win Nebraska’s presidential primaries

On Tuesday, Biden won Nebraska’s Democratic presidential primary with approximately 77% of the vote, receiving 29 pledged delegates. In the Republican primaryTrump received approximately 91% of the vote and 36 pledged delegates.

Biden says voters who believe Tara Reade shouldn’t vote for him

During an interview on MSNBC Thursday, Joe Biden said regarding sexual assault allegations from a former staffer, “If [voters] believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.”

Trump visits Allentown, Pa.

Donald Trump visited an Owens and Minor medical supply distribution center in Allentown, Pa., on Thursday. Earlier in the week, Trump tweeted regarding opposition to coronavirus restrictions in Pennsylvania, “The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!”

Biden and Sanders announce joint task force members

On Wednesday, Biden and Bernie Sanders announced the members of a series of joint task forces on climate change, criminal justice reform, the economy, education, health care, and immigration. Biden tweeted, “A united party is key to winning the White House this November. The work of the task forces will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress and not simply turn the clock back to a time before Donald Trump — but transform our country.”

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Lara Trump is a Republican staffer with experience in digital media and political communication. Trump graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in communications and from the French Culinary Institute in New York with a degree in pastry arts. She is married to President Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign, Women’s Empowerment Tour speaker

Other experience:

  • 2017-2018: Giles-Parscale Inc., Trump Tower liaison
  • 2012-2016: Inside Edition, story coordinator and producer

What she says about Donald Trump: “While Washington career politicians & Joe Biden have paid lip service to the American worker & their families for generations, ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ is following through on his promises to support the backbone of America-the American working family.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 11-15, 2016

  • May 15, 2016: At a rally in Fort Mitchell, Ky., Hillary Clinton (D) said she would put her husband, former President Bill Clinton (D), “in charge of revitalizing the economy, ’cause you know he knows how to do it. … And especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”
  • May 14, 2016: The Washington Post reported that a “band of exasperated Republicans — including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a handful of veteran consultants and members of the conservative intelligentsia” was “commissioning private polling, lining up major funding sources­ and courting potential contenders” in hopes of running an independent presidential candidate in the November election.
  • May 13, 2016: The Los Angeles Times editorial board endorsed Hillary Clinton in the California Democratic primary. In an editorial titled “Endorsement: For all her faults, Hillary Clinton is vastly better prepared than Bernie Sanders for the presidency,” the board wrote, “Clinton may seem inauthentic to some or to lack that drink-a-beer-with-me quality that voters often look for in a candidate. But she has a grasp of the complexities of government and policy that is unmatched by any of the other candidates who ran for president this year — or by most candidates in most years.”
  • May 12, 2016: Trump met with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a group of Republican senators, and other party leaders in a series of meetings in Washington. Ryan commented, “The goal here is to unify the various wings of the party around common principles so we can go forward unified.” One senator stated, “It was not antagonistic. It was positive. There was a discussion of differences of some issues.”
  • May 11, 2016: After Bernie Sanders won the West Virginia Democratic primary on May 10, Trump tweeted, “I don’t want to hit Crazy Bernie Sanders too hard yet because I love watching what he is doing to Crooked Hillary. His time will come!”

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