Governor John Kasich and Governor Terry McAuliffe on COVID-19’s Impact on Elections

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on everything, including the presidential campaigns and elections in the United States.  On April 15, 2020, Meridian brought together  Former Ohio Governor and 2016 Republican candidate for President John Kasich and Former Governor of Virginia and Former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Terry McAulifffor a bipartisan  virtual briefing on the influence of COVID-19 on the election. Moderated by Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, the conversation addressed how the pandemic has affected and will continue to impact the candidates, parties, conventions, and elections – both primaries and the general election in November. Over 100 foreign diplomats, private sector leaders, anWashington influencers joined the online program via Zoom. The program was part of the Insights@Meridian series.  

Several key points emerged from the conversation:  

The election will happen on Election Day

Gov. McAuliffe believes party officials must explore ‘creative’ solutions to the Democratic and Republican conventions in August due to concerns about bringing tens of thousands of people together for what are largely festive purposes. Nonetheless, the governors firmly agreed that the date of the election will remain Tuesday, November 3, 2020. “In the constitution of the United States, the president’s term is four-years to the day,” reminded Gov. McAuliffe.

It's still all about the economy

While COVID-19 has been the spotlight issue of Democratic candidates and President Trump, come November, Gov. Kasich and Gov. McAuliffe agree that there will be a shift as the state of the economy emerges as the focus. With unemployment at an all-time high, both President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Vice President Joe Biden will have to demonstrate to voters that they have the vitality to address such challenges. The crisis is an opportunity to reconstruct all sectors of America’s economy.   

Voting, it's time to get creative

As in-person voting increasingly posed serious health risks for voters and poll workers alike, multiple states across the country moved to postpone their primary elections. Gov. McAuliffe highlighted that certain states are beginning to conduct elections largely by mail, as a model for how the country needs to move to expand vote by mail options. “Just get going!", Gov. Kasich expressed as he emphasized the importance of moving to find creative solutions to make voting both secure and accessible come November.  

The importance of coalition building

Gov. McAuliffe praised Northwestern governors of Oregon, Washington and California in agreeing to work together to develop what they described as a regional framework for reopening their economies. When dealing with the Ebola outbreak in 2014, Gov. McAuliffe worked closely with Maryland, Washington DC and the federal government. This regional coordination effort allowed for a shared understanding of operations and proved to be invaluable. “The fusion of ideas and information allowed each of us to effectively execute the policy that was most appropriate at our state and local level.”

A model for tackling climate change?

Global efforts to combat COVID-19 have taught us the importance of cooperation. Gov. Kasich believes this is an example of how countries and international institutions can work together to address other challenges, such as global warming. “There is no vaccine when it comes to climate change.” Once the pandemic is behind us, all nations will need to join forces on this issue.  

Project summary

Governor John Kasich and Governor Terry McAuliffe on COVID-19’s Impact on Elections | April 2020
Number of Attendees: 104
Regions: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Near East and North Africa, South and Central Asia, Western Hemisphere
Countries: Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Georgia, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Tunisia
Impact Areas: Civic Engagement, Global Health
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement