Super Tuesday: Will coronavirus cases in Texas and California force many concerned voters to stay indoors?
Just hours after the total fatalities in the United States linked to the deadly coronavirus climbed to 6, millions of people in fourteen states in the country are gearing up to vote for their favorite presidential candidates on Tuesday, March 3.
The day, popularly known as 'Super Tuesday', plays a crucial role in deciding who the ultimate nominee for both Democratic and Republican parties will be in the 2020 elections. However, with an increasing number of coronavirus related deaths and infections reported in the nation, concerns have been raised over voter turnout and whether the polls will be impacted.
While some experts believe that the coronavirus scare will not have a significant impact on the percentage of voter turnout, there are others who believe that the counties affected by the virus could see fewer people coming out to vote than previously expected.
"We know that a variety of forces outside our control like the weather can affect voter turnout, and the recent COVID-19 scare is no exception," Gregg R. Murray, Ph.D., professor of Political Science, Augusta University, told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW). "But it's not likely to have much of an impact on Super Tuesday voting. The illness has not spread widely in the US, and, except for some international travelers, people's movement has not been restricted like it has been in China."
Novel coronavirus cases, however, have been detected in states with the most number of delegates share set for polls on Tuesday, including California, Texas, and Massachusetts.
"There might be effects in individual counties that have seen some cases, but that impact will likely be limited," Stephen Farnsworth, professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Mary Washington, told us. "The larger impact is likely to be greater support for the candidates with the largest amount of government experience. If conditions worsen in the US expect greater impacts in the contests after Super Tuesday."
Reports state that some of these states have addressed voter concerns by taking precautionary measures on the polling day. John Gardner, the assistant registrar of voters in Solano County, California — where two two health care workers tested positive for COVID-19 — said that they have taken measures, including an extra curbside location where people can drop off their completed ballots, "so voters don't have to get out of their cars if they don't want to." He added that additional supplies of disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and gloves have been arranged at all the polling sites in the county.
When asked about the larger impact on the primaries because of potentially low voter turnout, Murray said that it is possible that percentage would be reduced among the voters who are least committed to their candidates.
"If turnout is affected, the most likely outcome is that turnout will be reduced among the least committed voters. The hardcore, most energized voters will still go to the polls. In 2020, that includes Bernie Sanders supporters," he said.
Super Tuesday is one of the most important days of the primary season as over 1,300 delegates are up for grabs on March 3. A candidate requires the support of at least 1,991 pledged delegates to secure the party nomination.