FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast: How COVID-19 Affected Tuesday's Vote

FiveThirtyEight's Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Nathaniel Rakich discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday night's primary elections.
29:04 | 03/18/20

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Transcript for FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast: How COVID-19 Affected Tuesday's Vote
Hello and welcome to the 530 politics podcast I'm gale entering Joseph Biden -- another round of primaries on Tuesday night with wins in Florida Illinois and Arizona. So for all intents and purposes the democratic primary is over. Barring some crazy on pristine circumstance outside ESCO arm or. That's been clear vote for a week. So we're gonna dig in says some of the results. Tuesday night but we really want to focus on opportunities podcast. Is the effect that cooled it nineteen hat on these actions. Did people turnout what was the process like for in person voting. And of course we note that Ohio has postponed it in person voting. Until June and that's still an ongoing legal process will find out exactly what happens we're gonna get into some of that soc. So here we need to cover that our senior writer Emilia Thompson devout and knowing how the talent. Then you know as best as I can be these days Emilia I. Regret. Under eyes it is actually asking people question but I do interviews and immediately apologizing because. Up. Maybe it's more like how are you holding up. All right so and in the areas based out of Chicago and you spent part of the day yesterday speaking waited primary voters. About voting amid the corona virus so I look forward to hearing about that also here at us is elections analyst Nathaniel Ricans high Nathaniel Harry hold an up. A young I'm pretty good you know my life is basically staying in if that work from home anomaly and that on a socialite so things haven't changed that much for man I'm anarchic. Good to their computers and Nevada you've been tracking the effects of the virus on voting across the country with cancellations and raised so let's begin. Year somewhat proudly work Tuesday night's results in line with what we expected beast on preelection polling. In other words were there any aberrations in the overall results that would meet you think that that pandemic is having an impact on who won last night's prime. The short answer is the results were basically as we expected you know these are exposed to be some combative past states especially Florida. And he did indeed win them all by double digits. I'm in a couple of them like Arizona and Illinois it looks like the margin means maybe a little bit tighter than we thought it was going to be but certainly nothing enough. That you would say oh my gosh Bernie Sanders is now in the National League which he would need to be by quite a thing if margin in order to overtake Biden and has delicately it's. Yet so you don't what. Were the results for a moment forgetting. Cora iris. How would you characterize the result while out a landslide. Yes so in Florida Joseph Biden one by almost forty points 62% to 23%. In Illinois and -- in 159%. 36% so little bit narrower than Florida and Arizona all of the votes still out there. I'm Biden won 44% to 32%. So more than ten point margin so a blowout in Florida for shares a little bit closer in Arizona bat. Again I don't think anybody is thing that Bernie Sanders had a good night because he or performed a bit now from the school's. Via Emilia what was her now lite. Youngster. So in light turnout was pretty well out and there was also just kind. You know. Like early voting was a lot of people that are currently there are record number of applications for vote by mail ballot state and it and state officials had extended the depth line. To request a vote by mail ballot on and it's like a lot of people took advantage of that. And so for day voting. I'm turnout was especially low especially here where I am here in Chicago Ian Cook County. I'm that does not mean that people are not leading in Lyons and encountering various problems we talk. More later but in general. And he didn't get a little hard to say. Work people staying help them because of Cody nineteenth ears. Where they stayed home because you know as you said at the top of the pod cast extremely last week. The you know the democratic primary and cease to be competitive and I think that's a little harder to say but certainly it seemed like Illinois at least armed. A lot of people where you lower turnout fewer people work. We're also in Florida you saw the same thing except the turnout level state a little bit steady here so I crashed the numbers late last nine pounds might be a little bit Saturday now but. I'm more than 650000. Democrats did mail voting which was an increase from twenty sept are banned in 27%. Increase from 2016 in Florida. And more than 400000. Democrats voted early which was a 19% increase. However only about 500000. Democrats voted on Election Day itself which is 840% decrease. So it looks like certainly in Florida and anecdotally from on knowing it looks like people were swapping out. Voting in person for voting early in Illinois because there isn't as much of a culture of early voting that led to a pre substantial decrease in turnout from twenty sixteenths in twice in the turnout rate in Illinois was 23%. And this year it was 17% based on preliminary numbers. Turn I was basically flat in Florida however because there are those robust male and early voting options. Can we calm to the conclusion that turnout was lower because of concerns about corona virus as you mentioned a million there's that tension between the rates no water being competitive. And corona viruses while Cuddy parts by. Yeah I mean you can never you know approved for sure because correlation and causation but I think that is certainly varies strong theory I'm given that the state that had more robust early voting mail voting options. Sought turnout basically stay the same whereas the state where those options were more limited companies strong decrease and. Via Emilia. There's been some there was some talk leading up Tuesday's primary is that older voters might be. More concerned about the spread of the virus and their own personal risks and airport possibly turn out at lower numbers did we see any of that. So I can say anecdotally that I'd stop plenty. Elderly people coming out though it generally pretty each mix in the people I talk to you went around to a couple of precincts in my neighborhood here in Chicago and to say. Attacked one women who eat your old aunt said she makes that person and she now morning. Can't sanitize their stay away from people and I end. You know I mean there at that particular occasion when he retired he poll workers. Outnumber the motorists ago. You know I think she was correct that it was not act crowded. But these are still pretty small rooms are voting machines are rate next shattered. So you are in evidently you at close quarters armed. With each other and you know that each spread out. This dis service and that it wasn't specifically about voting but it was a Kaiser. Insert that was released yesterday. Asking the questions. About precautions that people were taking out the current iris how worried people work. And they were asking about different precautions different ways that people are changing right in response to you. I'm fears about the current virus. It was pretty evenly spread out even among people who were higher risk categories. So folks who are older folks who have chronic conditions they really were much more likely than people younger or lower categories for other reasons to say they're taking precautions. And at ease certainly what I saw on the ground in Chicago. You know. Lots of people like voting in person and you know those people may also tends to be hurt because especially in Illinois and saying L. Are not necessarily part of the culture and it's a thing for people. Option. Yes and I think that at. At least a fair number. Oh were turning out its. So beyond. Elderly wrote. One horror across the country what wires. Exploding light yesterday what kinds of complications duties. So here Chicago one of the issues well as its starting last week. Som polling places increasing started getting sent and that was either because they were in nursing homes war retirement facilities where you know for reasons that to happen a lot of foot traffic. Through at a time in those places are at higher risk for people getting. A core buyers spreading. Other polling places closed for other reasons. You know I'm the please I'd vote. Typically used a lot at an apartment building that was closed. Vehicle purchaser he heard people out all day. And what happened as a result was that some of those cancellations happen last week. And so the city was able to which passed but the cancellations were rolling in three to. Sunday and Monday and that meant that people were just getting route it to early voting sites which were staying open it actually supposed to be. We're staying open at the request of election officials to help sort it acts stop out because of cancellations. And every just huge lines at the early voting so I went one with local police station near field. But I was stretching all the way around building down the block around the corner team the block. Really. Pupil for what are distancing themselves from each product. So study the poll workers kept coming out out periodically and saying you guys need to stand now sixty weight each other some people abiding by that other people kept forgetting I don't think it was unit that anyone was resisted Saddam distancing but one woman said to me it's just not instinct yet keep forgetting. In you know out there for hours just important. I forget anyway so there is there isn't very out of social distancing on their people were. But you know it's just I just talk to a lot of people who said. I would monopoly pleased it was closed and it ends up with a sign telling ago some of them there was. As they ended up in the long line and I think it was not as bad as it could've been because for Chicago unit was relatively there was tackled. If more people have gone now. By you know I think people are pretty stunned by out just how the election structures seat. To what's been. What did Pete. Upset that the election had gone forward are happy. Yes. I have people question and I got really mixed results some people were angry that the state of Illinois had gone with the election. Putting people at danger. Which of those talented I feel comfortable and don't think this election is important to eat potentially people's lives asked. Other people had a very strong action in the other wrecks and saying that's very precedent if we. If it's our elections. Some people said. Voter suppression. I ran into a local Alderman outside the police station early voting site lies and he was saying you know it's just a really hard call. Hands option. Now think his. His response this kind of like it you know time will tell there were risks either way an organ learn. From what happened at Illinois winter it's a good idea to you actually have elections under these circumstances. Annan's now I think certainly what happening shows the difficult C. Asking to reality we're eats. Dangers for people a lot of meetings act 52 week. I just add that in out the you know some of Romeo is reporting from yesterday it was you know stunning in and crazy com. But I thought it was adjusting me you didn't see the same kind of reports out. Arizona and very few of them out of Florida and of course. You know maybe it's because those states you know out of majority in of people voting by mail and so the polling places themselves can be a little bit calmer. I L was supposed to vote yesterday but it's election was postponed and we discuss the mass briefly arms podcast on Monday but it wasn't fully sorted out that an Nathaniel you've been tracking. What's happening there soak. Start from the beginning. What exactly is happening with Ohio election. So. Law on Monday afternoon in the governor of Ohio Mike DeWine. Sad that he. Would like to post on the election due to news CDC guidelines that you know and parents are changing all time sports schmaltz tolerant smaller gatherings being out. And you want us on the elections June 2. However the governor does not happy unilateral authority to do that in Ohio so he had to get some private citizens essentially two see you in order to get any courts to order the election and and a lot of us thought that out with a formality but a judge at about seven Kenya on Monday said that it was too late in the election had to go forward. And then. Around 10 PM. I'm to whine and secretary of state announced know the election goes on anyway essentially ignoring that judge's order. In the state director of the department health order the polls closed as health and gourds eight. Com and you know this obviously stirred up quite the controversy given that you know a court had ordered the election to go forward. I'm all about about 4 AM on Tuesday morning so really at the last minute. The Ohio Supreme Court stepped in and said now we agree that the election should be on mom so that really kind of in the short term at least. Be you know. Decided issues that that goals but not open on Tuesday morning. However they're still kind an open question about and the election will be held the state Democratic Party is now silly to say we think it docked at all mail election that ends on April 28. You know. Executive decree basically said she June 2 is the date that there's question again about whether they have the legal authority to do that that the court just sad that the election should not go forward didn't. Agreed that the governor had authority to postpone it. I'm so the legislature may also stepped in and try to pick a new day so we're in a bit of limbo. But. It was really a kind of stark example of how. The crisis and adapting to the crisis can lead to use them legal gray areas what kind of. Precedent does this sad I mean it's complicated trying to waive these different issues. But you know do you executives governor is the president have the authority in the United States to postpone elections and Brito what. Happens when even if date technically dull they insist that they did. Right so you have to get one thing out of the way omnipresent in the United States does not have the authority to change the federal general election date that is set by law on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November only an act of congress can change that. That doesn't seem anywhere near remotely like what happened of course also hopefully things will be will be back to normal by November. Com but you know it is a different story in a state level these presidential primary dates are sat by the legislature pretty ad hoc basis and some states. The governor or secretary of state does have the power to change them by themselves. Most that states that you've seen already changed those dates of five states have postpone their presidential primary so far most of those states are states where the governor. Our house that authority Ohio was an exception which is why it was kinda so dramatic. You know but obviously I think. Not defying a court order you know the other aspirin court eventually stepped in and agreed with the wine. Com you know that was eighty you know at a Dicey situation and you know res of Mary. Philosophical question about you know when. Date love lost more important and when need be public health and safety should take. Gaga Harry prop the thing that's conflict. I think. What I Illinois yesterday raised questions for me how after that election. And earlier. People years spacing out. And I once you got inside. Election ministry saying. Only machines she rate next chapter there away for social. And that's to see aunt and it does raise questions at what point. Is the value adding people though person outweighed by serious public. On hand cy Ohio as. Breezes. Different questions about the process. By which lead me to see who gets to make that this. Aunt who authorities. News. And new. That our partner will say. You seemed prepared to. Act. Contrary to a court's order. Even though you know what's hiding theories serious pressing public health concerns. Acts. At potentially alarming situation we start getting to separation hours disputes. There courts as one thing governor something different the perennials. I mean you know we'll see constitutional process threat that is literally a constitutional right yeah yeah pat and you know we'll see what happens in Ohio as this legal fight continues to play out problem. But you know that was the thing that was. But it would be making these decisions at each and conflicts between different. Out how to see. And obviously the courts don't. Where so what if the governor decided he'd get him intently keep you can you know you can do that courts. Stopped him. Pop and that was the thing. Their rates and alarm bells. Oh yeah nearly obviously I think the last minute nature of the Ohio decision was a big problem obviously the situation is evolving very quickly and all but one probably couldn't have -- on the election victories we would have been ideal. But you know the fact that it was still up in the air in late into the night on Monday I think you know would have created confusion for voters for poll workers about whether they were national opt. I'm election had gone ahead. Mom in addition you know I think you have to think about you know this is a relatively in the democratic primary is relatively non competitive but what that word you know what if this could actually have an effect on the election what if you know had a situation where need to wind himself was facing a competitive election in a crisis like this imposed on the election and you have. Serious concerns about whether that's an abuse of power Sao. I'm there are no easy answers and. This is media at the stupid question but is there any reason to believe that Ohio was putting people wore at risk. By holding elections on Tuesday. Than any of the other three states why is it just Ohio that took this past and not Florida Hilan order errors are. It's wrenching question I don't think. I I am not and medical expert happened following the corona virus news especially closely in more than the average person combat I as far as I know Ohio hasn't had higher incidence of those rates do know that Mike DeWine has been one of the most aggressive governors in the country about. In implementing these public safety matters and he had been getting readers news actually for that before this particular. You know back and forth. So I think that it may just be that that the wine lists. You know acting. How to calm public health. You know there are simply meet. Yeah I didn't of the things it's that's been so interesting about watching this crisis unfold is that they didn't governor stepped into serious leadership positions here and the air making different decisions out how to address this unit were getting it but I Abbott how many people should be gathering at hand out where you should be what's. You know over the past week that as varied from state to state and as being mentioned. Dewine has been especially aggressive about this I'm here in Illinois eight our energy experts and in Yunnan now with the bars restaurants bars are closed except for eight out. But I'm work ahead with the election end and that was his decision as partners I think receiving. You know I haven't seen any evidence that people in Ohio where at higher risk and say here in Illinois where you know people were planning to vote to. I think over to seeing this as we need rapidly evolving situation. Governor there agony these decisions for states end the year reading things differently and 2 different. Scene aptly am real time. And Illinois a unlike Arizona or Florida was also holding down ballot election I understand that Ohio was going to be holding the ballot primaries. As well but maybe that create even more pressure where as we said the democratic primary is no longer. Competitive on the presidential level there are other competitive primaries going on right. I could to maybe that was a factor of how did not buy out in Illinois and. Well and in my district there's a very competitive state house race went out at precincts it was actually funny when they were there were basically two contenders and you know little lesson in Illinois politics when of the contenders have been endorsed by the governor one of the contenders had been endorsed by Chicago mayor. And the answer duking it out. And one that the candidate actually didn't have people out. Near the polls in encouraging folks to vote for him because at current concerns the other person. This way. But a lot of people I talked to them I ain't saying oh you might want to vote for my candidate in the primary. Overwhelmingly the people were. Tied at Allen. Out but a lot of people. People mention in the wind. Ian Statehouse race when it beat down ballot races that was actually had a really noteworthy result last night from Illinois. Was. A race in Albany to him Penske who used in the US House of Representatives he's one of the last order. I'm truly centrist Democrats he's anti abortion rights didn't. Vote for obamacare and he is being challenged for the second time binary new men. Progressive. I want to unseat him and opt out separate out the eat he has called the race for a new man all the Lipinski has not conceded yet and so you know that was that race we're. You know it was going to be close it was clear out with and it turns out it's very closely watched last night and who knows how close on election. The pact. Nathaniel you mentioned that other states are postponing their primaries so how does that change the calendar going forward how long can they postpone them and. Yeah. Bit tough on them you know several you know a couple of months really calm you know. The four states are Louisiana and Georgia Kentucky and Maryland in addition to Ohio on hands in a lot of these states were ones that were scheduled to vote in the next few weeks Puerto Rico and other state that it con while that is probably going to upon and that is scheduled to vote in the next couple weeks. That basically opening up a big hole in the calendar right now it looks like April 4 is in the next election date and the three states that are still voting. That day are going to be up mail and tired earlier almost entirely. Com and then on com's Wisconsin which is really the one in person state hasn't caught on at this point and then your you don't have any contest until April when. Com. Or mentioned Louisiana. Airlines and delayed things the coach. In fact it might indeed Kentucky I believe. But until June 23 which is only three weeks before an audience he starts which could. Logistically challenging. We leaders then delegates selected. That interest. So just to wrap up on this before we go coming back to news that in the democratic primary last night. It lease there weren't any exit polls so we can't. Talk specifically about demographic trends. Or issue trends in the same way we otherwise Kerr Addison conducted. A phone poll in advance of voting instead of during in person exit polls and that was because of their rotavirus. But where there any trends that we saw in terms of how concerned voters in either that phone poll. Or you know other polls leading up to the primary last night about how concerned voters or about coroner virus and whether that was weighing in. And whether or not what's being factored into their decisions last thing. Yes so the com. Clinton could exit poll 09 which if found poll. Did ask people how concerned that they were about the crown of iris and 53% said they were very concerned 34% said they were somewhat concerned. Only 10% said they were not too concerned and only 3% said they were not at all concerned. So it does seem to be something that is weighing on voters' minds pretty heavily enemy. Not it and how it's affecting public life. What was interesting young granted this is just one state. But Joseph Biden won the very concerned group 66% to 30%. Whereas the somewhat concerned group was basically split between Biden and Sanders calm you know. In this does jibe with other polls that I've seen that show basically nationwide for example that Biden is more trusted to handle like a national crisis. Com then Sanders is so you know. I think frankly a lot of people probably see. I'd experience especially Obama administration. And maybe they see him as more. Com new comforting more. A leader in terms of crisis and so you know if this race board already sewn up for Biden. I think that this crisis would probably be open to. All right well I think on a future podcast we're gonna talk about what Sanders as path forward is now not in terms of trying to nests or we win the democratic nomination. But when. Whether he gets out of the race and and what his goals really are now I think he's probably thinking more his movement. Then necessarily. Weber a win the nomination to will get into and out on a future podcasts and walls are going to be talking more in general. About elections during times of crises in America and how we balance democratic norms whip up public health emergencies so look forward to that. In the meantime though thank you so much for joining me today Nathaniel think you. Thanks and it nearly I think yeah. Thanks Galen some great insight into how. Elections move forward and it's the crisis it's really NASCAR's so thanks again my name is came under. Tony chow is in the control room you get in touch by emailing us at podcast at 530 dot com notes of course greeted us with questions or comments. If you're a fan of the show beavis or reading or review in the apple podcast store or tell someone about us apples are remembered to subscribe to 530 on YouTube. Thanks for listening and we'll seize. Or. You.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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