Both Republicans and Democrats are being forced to rethink their campaign strategies and messaging in the era of COVID-19. There are the obvious changes—no more door knocking, voter registration drives in the parking lot, black tie fundraisers, or stadium rallies.
And then there’s how to talk to voters in the wake of a virus that isn’t affecting everyone equally.
Deaths aren’t equal. One study showed that counties with disproportionately African American populations accounted for 52 percent of COVID-19 diagnoses and 58 percent of deaths nationally. Another found that nearly a third of those who have died of COVID-19 are African American—even though black people represented only 14 percent of the population in the areas it analyzed. When asked whether respondents in New York state personally knew anyone who had died of COVID-19, an Associated Press/NORC poll found that only 27 percent of white New Yorkers did, but almost twice as many—47 percent—of black respondents did.
The economic impact isn’t equal, either. One poll found that fewer than half of all Americans said they had “experienced some kind of household income loss as a result of the outbreak, including job losses, unpaid leave, pay cuts and fewer scheduled hours.” But that number jumped to 61 percent for Hispanic Americans. In another survey, 45 percent of black workers reported losing their jobs or having their hours cut compared with 31 percent of white workers.