The Atlantic Politics Daily: There Are Other Elections

Not just the 2020 presidential race. Plus: What the healthy owe to society, especially the more vulnerable, in the time of the coronavirus.

It’s Thursday, March 26. In today’s newsletter: The presidential race isn’t the only one battered by the coronavirus outbreak. Plus: Lessons from the health care fight.



How do you run for office during a pandemic?

Super Tuesday was a little more than three weeks ago, but the familiar theatrics of a presidential primary feel like a world away.

The presidential primary has faded into the background (leaving Joe Biden hanging in “suspended political animation”), there are still important down-ballot races that are suffering from the end of retail politics as we know it during the social-distancing era.

Sure, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders can move to digital town halls and Zoom press conferences while holding on to their fundraising war chests and maintaining their advertising machines. But the people running for mayor, city council, or state legislatures face the toughest climbs.

For one, a lot of them can’t even run for elected office full-time. My colleague Adam Harris reports:

Many of them are parents whose lives are now in flux because of school closures or job losses, said Amanda Litman, the co-founder of Run for Something, which helps recruit young people to run for elected office. “Many of them work in jobs that might be considered first responders right now,” she told me. “That means they are now balancing working from home or really high-stress jobs with taking care of their kids [and] with campaigning. That was hard enough when campaigning meant going to events at night and knocking doors all weekend. It’s 10 times harder now.”

And while state and local candidates often focus on the bread-and-butter issues that affect their own communities when they run for regional seats, nationwide public-health and economic crises have forced them to pivot their messages to broader national issues.

Then there’s the new challenge of trying to hold elections at all when any mass public gatherings fly in the face of social distancing guidelines.

—Christian Paz

(Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty)

Grounded airplanes, abandoned beaches, and empty streets. Here’s what shape human life has taken now.



+ If controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is a war, are we winning? That’s impossible to answer given how hazy our metrics, and the American testing situation, have been. Derek Thompson on the fog of the pandemic.

+ What do the healthy owe to society, especially the more vulnerable? Our political analyst Ron Brownstein finds lessons from the Affordable Care Act fight that resonate within our current moment.

+ Big retailers are trying to roll out sick pay for quarantined workers. But some workers are reporting a labyrinthine system for getting paid through these new policies, amid a fast-moving pandemic, Olga Khazan reports.

+ “Your guess is as good as mine,” a scientist told our space reporter Marina Koren recently, when she asked about the status of ambitious NASA programs aiming for the farthest reaches of our solar system. Humankind has in essence been grounded.

+ “Who would have thought COVID-19 would give anti-abortion forces the quick victory they could not win in the courts, in the legislative process, or through the deployment of screaming protesters outside clinics?” Katha Pollitt writes.

You can keep up with The Atlantic’s most crucial coronavirus coverage here.


Today’s newsletter was written by Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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