State of the Democratic Primary

State of the Democratic Primary

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The coronavirus has put the United States on near lockdown and with only a few more months until the July convention the game has changed for those running for the office of President of the United States. Of the 26 democratic presidential candidates who vied for the 2020 democratic nomination, two have weathered the storm. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has obtained the endorsements of most of the Democratic playing field, and Bernie Sanders, the populist and self-proclaimed democratic socialist. As of March 26, Biden is leading in the delegate count at 1217, with Sanders lagging behind at 914 delegates. In order for either candidate to lock-up the democratic nomination they must reach a total of 1,991 delegates, and as primaries are postponed due to a nationwide health pandemic, the outcome of this election has become a toss-up. 

After poor performances in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, Joe Biden’s campaign was jump-started by the endorsement of  House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn from South Carolina, which led to a major win for the former Vice President in the state. From there, endorsements from other moderate candidates such as Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg decided who would be the moderate candidate to run against the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. With a consolidated left and center-left, the results thus far have pointed towards a Biden nomination this coming July. However, the recent coronavirus pandemic may just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. 

As hundreds of millions of Americans are self-quarantining in their homes, worried about the prospect of contracting and spreading COVID-19, Joe Biden has been absent from public appearances and has been remotely silent regarding the pandemic. Botching his recent TV and livestream appearances with cringe-inducing gaffes, the former Vice President also made it apparent that he does not want to participate in an April debate with Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, President Trump and Bernie Sanders are at the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic during this time, each becoming the symbolic figurehead for the two parties’ responses. 

With the coronavirus causing massive amounts of unemployment within the United States, the crisis has shown the lack of functionality of the current healthcare system. Americans who obtain their health insurance through their employer are seeing firsthand how such a system is ineffective, especially in such extreme circumstances as a health pandemic. With many of the state’s primary dates being pushed back to June 2, the big questions are as follows: Will this pandemic lead to higher approval ratings for a government-run universal healthcare system, such as Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan? Could Biden’s 300 delegate lead disintegrate come June 2 because of this? And, if Biden becomes the democratic nominee, how will he fare against President Trump, who has been gaining steadily in approval ratings since the beginning of this pandemic?