As the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic’s infections surpass 9 million cases and more than 90,000 new victims come under its deadly spell in the United States, voters find its threat the most compelling issue as they cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.
“The pandemic has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States and upended the nation’s economy,” reports The New York Times. “Now it could help decide the presidential election.”
In many locations, including Floyd County here in Southwestern Virginia, a record number of voters have already cast their ballots. More than 40 percent of this county’s voters have been to the polls.
“Things are really running rampant, so there is a lot of discontent,” said Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “I do think it provides more of a challenge for Trump to try and win the state because any news about the pandemic — it’s not good for him.”
“Enthusiasm for turning out for Trump among Trump supporters will wane somewhat, and so it will affect turnout somewhat,” John Aldrich, a professor of political science at Duke University, tells The New York Times. “I don’t think it’s going to be a massive thing.”
The pandemic has complicated the voting process. Because of concerns the virus would hamper people’s ability to vote, several states have encouraged mail-in voting. About 1.64 million people had returned absentee ballots in Wisconsin as of Thursday, more than half of the total ballots cast in 2016.
In other battleground states like North Carolina, Florida and — this year — Texas, the president could see fading support from Republicans who feel frustrated by what they see as a lackluster federal response to the coronavirus. Those states may also see higher turnout among Democrats who opted to vote by mail for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Over the past week, the United States has recorded more than 500,000 new cases, averaging more than 77,000 a day, and nine states reported daily records on Thursday. More total cases have been identified in the United States than in any other country, although some nations have had more cases in proportion to their populations.
“There is no way to sugarcoat it: We are facing an urgent crisis, and there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors,” Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin told the newspaper..
Virginia adding more than 1,000 cases a day in new infections with more than 500,000 additional cases nationally in the past week.
On Friday, the Commonwealth’s infections rose by 1,456 to a total of 178,183 cases. Rural Floyd County’s rate of cases stood at 250. Deaths in the Old Dominion were 3,643.
The numbers keep rising.