The Democrats' Impossible Campaign in the Coronavirus Age

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders during the last Democrat debate in Washington on March 15. Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

The Democratic primaries for the presidential nomination, which had been halted for more than two weeks, resumed Tuesday, April 7, in Wisconsin. Paradoxically, this first ballot since the pandemic hit the United States was due to the obstinacy of the Republican Party. The Grand Old Party (GOP) countered all efforts of the Democratic Governor, Tony Evers, to postpone the vote. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, made up mostly of conservative judges, opposed a postponement on Monday. The majority Republican Congress in this Midwestern state had done the same two days earlier. Conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court have finally overturned a federal judge’s decision to extend the time limits for postal votes that Democrats wanted to encourage to limit the risk of contagion.

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This continued election, while health professionals keep calling for respect for barrier gestures against the virus, has produced the expected results. In the absence of volunteers to supervise the voting operations, the large agglomerations in which the Democrats are the majority have considerably reduced the number of offices. Milwaukee only had five against center eighty, and Green Bay two instead of thirty-one.

The endless queues had a definite deterrent effect on voters, while voting operations were less affected by restrictions in conservative-dominated rural areas. A court ruling also prohibited publication of the results before April 13.

Confirmation of a useful vote in favor of Joe Biden

This republican obstinacy, actively supported by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who called for a vote on Monday evening only a few hours after having again stressed in a press conference the importance of respecting the rules of social distancing, has overshadowed the Democrats' stake in Tuesday's vote.

Four years ago, Vermont’s independent senator Bernie Sanders defeated Wisconsin’s favorite Hillary Clinton with over 56% of the vote compared to just 43% for the former secretary of state. The few polls that were published before Tuesday's primary, on the contrary, gave former Vice President Joe Biden a large lead.

Since his spectacular recovery in South Carolina on February 29, after a catastrophic start, the latter has widened a significant gap in terms of delegates compared to the independent senator. He now has 1,217 delegates against only 914 for his opponent, while it is necessary to obtain at least 1,991 to be sure of being the Democratic candidate for the presidential election in November.


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