Let’s just stipulate up front that no one’s going to postpone the election in November. Donald Trump certainly won’t delay it, and he doesn’t have the authority to do so anyway. It would require an act of Congress to move the election, and even if Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill agreed to do such a thing, Trump’s term in office ends on January 20 by the terms of the Constitution. That can’t be changed by statute alone, and states aren’t going to rush through a constitutional amendment in eight months to potentially create an imperial presidency, pandemic or not.
Like it or not, we’re having an election on November 3. But who would prefer to postpone it? According to a Zogby poll — insert your caveats here — a strong majority of voters want to put it off until after the COVID-19 pandemic eases. And that strong majority includes a majority of Democrats:
Nearly 60% of likely voters at least somewhat agreed (30% strongly agreed/29% somewhat agreed the 2020 presidential election should be suspended if the coronavirus pandemic gets worse between now and November, while 41% at least somewhat disagreed (25% strongly disagreed/16% somewhat disagreed). A majority of almost every sub-group surveyed at least somewhat agreed with this notion, including Democrats (53% at least somewhat agreed/47% at least somewhat disagreed).
Leading Democrats have indulged in this conspiracy-theory paranoia over the last week or so, including Joe Biden on multiple occasions, #3 House Democrat James Clyburn, and Bernie Sanders’ campaign. These Democrats have been using this oft–debunked claim as a scare tactic to rally their voters. Do they know that their own voters see this as a good idea rather than a problem?
It’s not just Democrats who think it’s a good idea, either:
The sub-groups that agreed the most with suspending the 2020 presidential election, if the coronavirus pandemic gets worse, were urban voters in large cities (67% at least somewhat agreed/33% at least somewhat disagreed), Catholics (66% at least somewhat agreed/34% at least somewhat disagreed), voters with college degrees (60% at least somewhat agreed/40% at least somewhat disagreed), Hispanics (68% at least somewhat agreed/32% at least somewhat disagreed) and Republicans (69% at least somewhat agreed/31% at least somewhat disagreed). Voters in the South (64% at least somewhat agreed/36% at least somewhat disagreed) were much more inclined to agree with canceling the presidential election, if the pandemic gets worse, than voters living in the Central/Great Lakes region (53% at least somewhat agreed/47% at least somewhat disagreed).
Interestingly, one of the few demos to oppose the idea overall is also one of the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Seniors (55+) oppose a delay in the election by a 55/45 margin, the only age demo in opposition. Trump does better with older voters and their insistence on holding an election might play better for him in November, although Jonathan Zogby disagrees:
Zogby noticed the slight differences among groups, such as men and women, younger and older voters, to suggest that some are more eager to vote even if the crisis worsens, a bad sign for Trump.
“Two important demographics that could positively impact the 2020 presidential election for the Democratic Party are younger voters aged 18-29 and women. It’s possible their turnout could increase at the polls as a referendum on President Trump and his handling of the pandemic,” he said in his survey analysis.
Maaayyyybeeee, but the biggest pushback on holding the election on time comes from demos normally opposed to Trump: urban voters, college post-grads, minorities, and younger voters, especially between 23-39 years of age. When — not if — the election gets held on November 3rd, will this reluctance create a reduced turnout of voters in those demos? If it does, Democrats will be toast, and not just in the presidential election.
Trump scoffed at the idea of a delay in last night’s briefing, perhaps for that reason. He’s got every reason to press forward if these demo results hold up. Trump let Biden off the hook for pushing the conspiracy theory, but declared that November 3rd is “a good number” for the election. That might end up disappointing Democrats most of all, who might need more time to find a nominee less inclined toward paranoid conspiracy thinking.