The presidential election is a great opportunity to make learning come alive in your homeschool. In this newsletter, we give your homeschool family important information on campaigning during the coronavirus. This information would be great to use along with our free lesson on the primaries. Did you grab your FREE lesson on the primaries? Click here to download now!
Election 2020 will be one for the history books. Never before has a pandemic disrupted a primary season and a presidential election. It has changed the way voters cast ballots. It has derailed candidate strategies. It has reordered issues voters think are important.
“These are extraordinary times,” President Kennedy told a joint session of Congress in 1961, when freedom and liberty were under attack. The same can be said for today. These are extraordinary times.
In this newsletter, we teach your family about three ways the coronavirus has changed the presidential campaign. Read it with your family. And keep on reading for activities and web links to keep your kids engaged while you are hunkered down at home.
1. Voting by Mail and Early Voting
In normal times, most voters would line up at their polling places on Election Day to cast a vote for their favorite candidate. But these are extraordinary times.
Over the last two decades, more and more states have been going to vote by mail and early voting. These ways of voting help to get more people out to vote. High voter turnout is super important in a democracy! In 2016, about 40% of votes were cast by absentee ballots, vote by mail, and early voting. We cover all of these ways to vote in our Presidential Election Unit Study 2020 for homeschools and co-ops.
Fun fact: Do you know the states that had the highest shares of vote by mail, early voting, and absentee voting in the last presidential election? They were Oregon (100%), Washington (97.7%), and Colorado (94.4%).
State and local government officials are in talks right now to make sure the November election goes forward even if the pandemic continues. Vote by mail, absentee ballots, and early voting are all possible alternatives to voting in person at the polls on Election Day. Even if the pandemic slows or stops, we can expect to see more and more states turning to absentee ballots, vote by mail, and early voting. We are already seeing this trend in the primaries.
In West Virginia, voters can now give the coronavirus as a reason for voting by mail in their primary on May 12. In Georgia, absentee ballot request forms will be mailed to every voter before the state’s primary on May 19.
Switching to vote by mail will not be easy. It will be expensive and take a good bit of time to print the ballots make sure they are secure. But these are extraordinary times.
2. Digital Campaigning
In normal times, candidates would be boarding their campaign planes, crisscrossing the country. They’d be headed to battleground states or the next states on the primary calendar. They’d hold huge rallies in stadiums and auditoriums, in front of crowds of thousands of people. They’d shake hands with voters, kiss babies, and pose for selfies along receiving lines. But these are extraordinary times. States have banned rallies. Americans are practicing social distancing. Kissing babies, taking selfies, and shaking hands are now frowned upon, especially as more and more world leaders are diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Nobody knows how long the nationwide quarantine will keep people in their homes, away from crowds. Nobody knows how long airplanes will be grounded, as travel restrictions mount. Campaigns are building up their digital platforms, preparing to reach voters in new ways. Campaigns are asking themselves the following questions: How can we boost virtual engagement with supporters? How can we get out our message through social media? How can we get people to donate and volunteer over the Internet?
Fundraisers are already going virtual. Virtual town hall forums are being live streamed. Primary candidates are giving addresses from home. In our Presidential Election Unit Study 2020, we talk about the history of campaigns, including the front porch campaign of the early 1900s. During the era of front porch campaigns, candidates would address the people and the press from their homes and especially their front porches. Of course, the Internet was not around back then. These extraordinary times are fusing the old era of front porch campaigns with the current digital era. These extraordinary times are forcing us into a new phase, and it is unclear how long it will last.
3. Leadership Qualities and Economic Issues
If a presidential candidate is an incumbent (the person who currently holds the office), that person can campaign from the White House stage. This is especially important in times of crisis. Attention is laser-focused on the president during crisis situations, as voters tune into daily presidential press conferences and live updates. The media give presidential actions non-stop attention. The nation watches—and feels the effects—as the president manages the crisis and dips into his arsenal of presidential powers. In short, the president campaigns by being president.
If the pandemic persists, the candidates’ re-election strategies and appeals will change. They already have changed. Voters will evaluate the candidates on how they led the nation through this unprecedented national emergency. How well did they take command? Did they make wise decisions?
The most important issue in any presidential election is the economy (the wealth or resources of a country). The 2020 election will be no different. A strong economy usually keeps the incumbent candidate or party in office. A weak economy usually ousts the incumbent candidate or party. The pandemic has caused a huge economic disruption. But given the current crisis, voters may look forward rather than back. They may ask themselves a different question: which candidate is best equipped to rebuild the economy after coronavirus?
Questions for Debate and Discussion
Don’t forget to grab your free lesson on the primaries. Click here to get your copy of the 2020 Presidential Election Unit Study for homeschool families and co-ops.
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