Advertising instead of arenas and text messaging instead of door knocking; this is the very near future of a 2020 campaign under the cloud of the coronavirus.
Veteran political operatives in both parties predict the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, to force candidates up and down the ticket and their grassroots supporters to suspend typical, in-person campaigning. Out: rallies, town hall meetings, and a staple of tried-and-true get-out-the-vote activities. In: virtual campaigning — appeals that rely on advertising across television and digital platforms and electronic communications fueled by old-fashioned telephone calls and smartphone apps.
“Prepare for a POTUS campaign in which, for a month or two at least, there will be few if any events with large numbers of people,” tweeted Dana Houle, a Democratic operative in the Midwest. “Campaigns may be TV/digital/mail/texting/phones & little else.”
The spread of the coronavirus has sparked the cancellation of big-crowd events such as South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, while pushing several corporations to cancel conferences and nonessential travel. The major professional sports leagues in the United States, as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, are preparing contingency plans for playing games without fans in attendance. Some members of Congress who might have been exposed have quarantined themselves.