In an email, Sides said the cancellation of 2020 events seems different and less likely to make an impact on the outcome of the primary campaign. “We’re not in the invisible primary anymore and not even really early in the primary season. So it’s an open question whether a rally or two, and the accompanying news coverage, would do much to change any voters’ mind. I guess since Sanders is currently trailing, he’d prefer to get all the attention he possibly can.”

The question of how to get attention for your campaign — the good kind, not the “yikes, someone at my rally got coronavirus” kind — is likely to dog a rally-less 2020 campaign. It’s unclear how many people will tune into live-streamed fireside chats or digital rally events or watch parties. In-person events are critical to campaigns since they help build lists of supporters and garner local media coverage. (I reached out to the Biden and Sanders campaigns about their plans for events in the foreseeable future but did not hear back.)

In an email, political scientist and FiveThirtyEight contributor Joshua Darr pointed to studies that have shown “positive effects of candidate appearances, and those effects are often tied to media coverage.”