You may have heard that Ohio is delaying its primary. It is not — yet. At the eleventh hour, a judge has blocked the governor’s petition to reschedule in-person primary voting. Not long after, the state health department ordered all polling places closed and the governor ordered that no results be posted until June 2 so an alternative could be generated.
This proposal wasn’t made from whim, but rather according to CDC guidance and with the concurrence of both state Republican and Democratic parties. Regardless, the judge rejected the petition and voting will proceed as scheduled. It’s uncertain if the governor will be obeying the ruling… but if it were my state, if I cared deeply, and if I had no particularly vulnerable people at home, I’d be at the polls on time. There’s every likelihood there will be no alternative pushed through, though we can hope.
Tomorrow’s primaries in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and Arizona are all taking place in states where the new Coronavirus is considered a grave danger. Illinois has closed all restaurants, Florida has restricted some public assembly, and Ohio has put into place a guideline echoing the Federal request that public gatherings be strictly limited for fear of contagion. Even Arizona, which is not particularly hard-hit, has shut down most of its urban schools.
Following Sunday’s debate, Biden is seen as the D.N.C. frontrunner. He had a strong performance, despite that it’s pretty widely agreed that he strayed freely from the truth, nearly achieving Trumpian fact-check reports. Early polling suggests he’ll take all four states up for grabs on Tuesday by a fair margin, and statements made during the debate indicate that he’s not at all likely to offer Sanders the vice presidency in exchange for an end to his candidacy. (We can also predict further neglect of Gabbard; that’s always a safe bet.)
As four other states so far — Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, and Kentucky — have opted to delay their primaries for several weeks, it’s reasonable to proceed on the assumption that Biden will maintain his lead for the foreseeable future. The next contest is now Puerto Rico’s on the 29th followed by Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming on the 4th of April — if they aren’t delayed. The total number of delegates from all four contests are dwarfed by tomorrow’s award.
Given this, the press narrative will likely heavily underline Biden’s advantage regardless of the massive percentage of delegates that at present remain uncommitted. Since the perception of a winner (paradoxically) drives future voters, a Biden victory on either the first or second round at July’s national convention seems assured.
It’s not difficult to predict what will follow: The Democrats will avoid in-person debates, rightly fearing Biden’s stage presence, and a massive ad campaign will drive November’s election. The final result will depend largely on how well the present administration handles its COVID-19 response: If the contagion and self-quarantine end long before, it’ll be largely forgotten except for the economic impact, whereas if this extends through the summer, people will end up resenting every slight and inconvenience incurred, and will demonstrate this resentment at the polls.
My money is on a Biden win, which will hand Four More Years to Trump. But I could be wrong; I’ve been wrong before.
If you go out to vote tomorrow — or for any other purpose — be sure to keep your hands away from your face. I’d suggest wearing gloves and bringing your own pen to the voting booth. There’ll be hand sanitizer available; use it if you want. And wash your hands (and gloves and clothes! This virus persists on fabric) when you get home.
Above all: Don’t panic. This has happened before; it will pass in time. While the consequences won’t be pleasant, panic won’t help a thing.
And if you live in Ohio, feel free to let us know what you see in the Comments. We’re all quite curious how this will turn out.
Update: Cook County is in chaos, as more than 10% of election judges didn’t show up. Ohio’s polling places are definitely closed. We’re told that there’s a record low turnout combined with lines two blocks long. This should be… interesting.