The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Virtual Campaigning for the 2020 Presidential Election

While the news is flooded with coverage of COVID-19, a large  population of the United States has partially forgotten that this is an election year. But who can blame anyone when there is a pandemic going on? It is crazy how one of the most anticipated election years, due to all of the controversy with current President Donald Trump, just got left in the dust. But with this year being the first presidential election I get to vote in, I have kept a close eye on all of the candidates , from the debates to the campaigning. I want to vote for someone who will do the best for our country, regardless of which “side” they are on. Unfortunately, no republicans were able to break through Trump’s support, so my sole focus has been on the plethora of Democratic runners. 

Until recently, I had been following Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign trails. They were the final two fighting for the spot of Democratic nominee and polled the highest during all of the primary elections. Sanders, however, made the tough decision on April 8 to drop from the race and endorse Biden. Most of the Democratic runners have decided to endorse Biden, showing a united front. Besides Sanders and Biden, none of the other candidates had to campaign during the brunt of COVID-19. However, everyone showing their support and solidarity over social media is part of the campaign process. 

Biden and Sanders both handled their virtual campaigning quite well. Sanders was incredibly active on social media and online platforms long  before the pandemic broke out. This boosted his support, especially among young voters, and was also able to help him raise a large sum of money for his campaign. Even though Sanders did not receive the nomination, his virtual campaigning was by far the best. He was strong, passionate and clear on his viewpoints. 

Biden came into the presidential race a bit later than Sanders, however, he was able to gain a large amount of support early on. Being the former vice president to Barack Obama, he had instant support from those who supported him back when Obama was in office, as well as backing from the supporters of Michelle Obama. Biden’s virtual campaigning was also strong and, in my opinion, helped him gain support among young followers and those from different demographics. His Instagram (@joebiden) is especially resourceful. From posting simple text graphics, like the one he posted stating his vice president will be a woman, to his posts about new endorsements. For each new endorsement Biden has received, he has posted about them and thanked them for their support. For example, when Sanders ended his presidential campaign  and endorsed Biden, Biden  stated, “And to Bernie supporters: I see you, I hear you … You are more than welcome on this campaign. You are needed.” 

Most importantly, Biden has been incredibly vocal on social media regarding COVID-19. He has been actively showing his support for healthcare workers and doing anything in his power to relieve stress during this time. He points out what he will do differently and the mistakes the current president is making. He has been more active on Twitter (@JoeBiden) as well, responding to tweets, answering questions and making bold statements. Again, this has helped make him more popular among young voters. President Trump’s outlandish statements, like the comment he made regarding the suggestion to inject bleach into our bodies, may get him in trouble in the future. As we know, our current president says whatever he wants on Twitter.  I feel that many of his tweets are inappropriate and childish for a president to be making. Biden, however, has yet to do anything out of line on his virtual campaign trail. 

President Trump’s virtual campaigning has been minimal. His arrogance concerning the probability of his re-election is unfortunate. Rather than campaigning and showing why he should be re-elected, he simply makes empty statements that suggest he is the only option for the job. Trump does not own up to any of the mistakes he has made during his presidency or say what he would do differently if re-elected. Unfortunately, this keeps him incredibly closed off from gaining new supporters. His inability to make appropriate comments and statements that would help the U.S. population during this scary time also limits him from gaining new supporters. Overall, Trump is not really campaigning virtually, but everything he already does on social media platforms is hurting his chances of gaining potential voters. 

While the future of the presidential election is still up in the air, Biden and his team are hard at work keeping his campaign alive on all social platforms. Biden’s campaign during the pandemic has been incredibly effective and has helped him reach potential voters, something I cannot say about our current president and  Republican candidate for 2020.