August 12, 2020
Read time : 21 min

As the 2020 election date approaches, it looks like elections as we know it are likely to change; the concept of mail-in voting is becoming more prevalent, and many are urging people to have their votes postmarked by October 23rd to be counted for the election. Here's a guide for how to submit absentee votes by state.  President Trump suggested moving the election date back, leading to outcry from both the Democratic and Republican Party. Donald Trump is running for re-election, while Joe Biden is now the only candidate on the Democratic nomination. As COVID-19 continues to develop and change the way our society lives, dates have been pushed back and the ways that campaigning and voting are done are changing. We’re covering the candidates and important dates, discussing how COVID-19 is changing the game, and exploring the election process.

2020: A Crucial Year in Politics


The 2020 Census will impact politics. The results of the census will impact how districts are drawn, and some states will probably gain or lose seats in the House. Arizona, Colorado and Texas are expected gain seats while Alabama, Illinois and New York will probably lose seats.

All the states will elect new representatives, and 34 out of 100 Senate seats will be up for re-election. Voters will also elect new state Senate representatives, and 11 states will hold gubernatorial elections. The next year is looking to be a turning point in U.S. politics.

There seems to be small changes in partisanship, with recent events showing that there has been some difference based on education and racial divergence. Issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality have brought healthcare, education, and racial equity issues to the forefront of voters' minds. With the presidential candidates switching their campaigns to digital formats, many are taking to social media to discuss these important issues and gain information on the candidates and their viewpoints.

2020 Presidential Elections: Important Dates and Timeline (August Update)

Check out our blog When Is The Next Presidential Election? 2020 US Presidential Elections Dates and Timeline for the most up-to-date information up to the month of August. The election space is continuing to develop in response to the ongoing issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, and dates are changing to accommodate the health and safety of voters and communities. The last date to register online to vote and to mail in voting registration is Monday, October 19th. 

US Elections Dates Infographic_August 2020

Primary: A primary is the most common form of choosing a candidate today. Primaries involve voters going to a booth or mailing in their ballots to cast their votes. The amount of delegates received depends on the state - some states utilize a winner-takes-all method, while others apportion percentages based on amount of votes.

The first primary for the 2020 election occurred in New Hampshire on February 11th. The latest primary to occur happened in Connecticut on August 11th. Several states postponed their primaries from their original dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic including: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

Caucasus: A caucus is a form of election that allows for discussion; candidates or representatives of candidates often speak to those present about ideals and party goals before voting occurs. Oftentimes, voters are asked to physically move to spaces to represent who they would like to cast their vote for. 

The first caucus to occur in 2020 was Iowa on February 3rd. The states and territories that held caucuses in 2020 were Iowa, Nevada, North Dakota, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Guam and Wyoming moved postponed their caucuses due to COVID-19.

National Convention: A national convention allows for a political party to choose its presidential candidate and outline its rules and platforms. Delegates from each state will officially cast their votes for the candidate that will move forward to the November presidential election.

The Democratic National Convention occurred from August 17-20 in a virtual format. Joe Biden officially became the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party on the second night of the convention. The Republican National Convention will occur on August 24, and Donald Tump will receive the official nomination as the presidential nominee for the Republican Party.

Presidential Debate: Presidential debates are question-and-answer events that allow presidential candidates to discuss their ideas, clarify intentions and goals, and reply and react to other candidates. This is set in place to aid in the electoral process and better inform voters of candidates’ platforms. 

The presidential debates are scheduled for September 29th, October 15th, and October 22nd. They are scheduled to be 90 minutes-long, and be comprised of six 15-minute segments on different topics.

Election Day: The election process for the U.S. president occurs every four years on the first Tuesday of November. Voters will, depending on the state, mail-in their ballot or enter private polling places to cast their vote. This will determine how many of a presidential candidate’s preferred electors will take a spot in the electoral college vote in December.

Many states are looking to implement more extensive absentee, mail-in voting due to health precautions. More information on specific states can be found on the U.S. government's website.

Electoral College Vote: Electors meet in their respective states on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. The electors will cast their vote for their pledged candidate. An absolute majority is needed to secure the presidency. 
Announcement: Congress formally meets in January to count the electoral college votes. A presidential candidate needs at least 270 votes to win the presidency.

Top Issues for the 2020 presidential campaign

How was COVID-19 affected the 2020 presidential election? 


The increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has had a large impact on every area of life. The federal government has realized the obstacles that states and individuals need to overcome in order to allow the election to occur. Several states and territories postponed their caucuses and primaries due to shelter-in-place and social distancing measures issued across the country. Campaigns have used more extensive digital engagement methods through areas such as social media in order to adapt to the ongoing health precautions. There has been a greater focus on voter registration, with issues such as racial equity boosting voter registration in many states.

Despite fears and setbacks, the presidential election must still occur in November as it is not a federal election; the president is elected through state elections. Some have suggested that an expansion of mail-in voting that is currently implemented by some states. More details on how COVID-19 has affected voting in your community can be found here.

Other issues that could persuade voters

Healthcare is one of the top issues voters care about.

A survey conducted during the 2018 midterm elections revealed a significant partisan gap on several key issues. These issues include health care, foreign policies, how businesses should be regulated, and how systemic inequalities are perceived. A 2020 research study by the Pew Research Center showed that the top three issues that voters were concerned about were: the economy, healthcare, and Supreme Court appointments.


The survey revealed a clear divide between voters. It also found that GOP voters tend to see the tax reform and tariff policies as positive. These topics are likely to play a decisive role in the 2020 campaign.


Healthcare reform might be discussed in connection with debates on Affordable Healthcare Act being defined as unconstitutional. Health care has become an increasingly important issue as the COVID-19 pandemic has helped to highlight the underlying problems in the US healthcare system. Issues such as insurance coverage and racial disparities have become extremely relevant with different communities being hit harder by the pandemic than others.


Immigration will be another top issue for the 2020 campaign. In 2018, 20 percent of voters considered border security as a top priority while 32 percent thought that providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants should merit primacy.

What topics do US voters care most about?

National Debt

The current administration's spending and lower tax revenues are drawing attention to the issue of national debt. The federal deficit is expected to grow by an additional $1 trillion by 2020 and could represent 5.1 percent of the national GDP if spending policies don't change by 2022.

Reducing this deficit and increasing federal revenues could be key points for a Democratic candidate. Stagnating wages are an issue that is directly affecting voters. Numbers show the employment is going up and that wages are growing, but higher wages are limited to the highest-paid tier. Inflation is also causing the purchasing power of most families to stagnate. 

Supreme Court Appointments

Many voters are paying attention to Supreme Court appointments as election day nears; in 2016, many Republicans cited the vacancy for the Supreme Court seat as a reason for voting for Donald Trump. Both political parties are looking at different candidates for the Supreme Court seat with 57% of Democratic voters and 53% of Republican voters citing the Supreme Court as an important factor in voting for the 2020 election.

2020 US Elections: Candidates


Joe Biden

Slogan: Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead


Donald Trump

Slogan: Make America Great Again | Promises Made, Promises Kept


FAQ: 2020 Presidential Elections

What are Primary Elections and Why are They Important?



The primary election is a process in which citizens are able to cast their vote for a party’s delegate. A closed primary is a primary in which only registered members of the party can vote; an open primary allows registered voters to vote regardless of party membership. 

Primary elections are important because they allow for a state to portion delegates for respective candidates. This shows much much support each candidate has for each given state. By figuring out how many delegates each candidate has, a political party can choose which candidate has the most potential to win the presidential election.

What is the Difference Between the Electoral College and the Popular Vote?


The electoral college is a process in which representatives for a state meet, vote for the President and Vice President, and have votes counted by Congress. Each state has as many electors as they do members in Congress, which is made up of the members of the House of Representatives and Senate. When you vote in a presidential election, you are voting for your chosen candidate’s preferred electors. Most states require that all electoral votes go to the candidate who receives the popular vote. The electors will then meet to vote on who will eventually become the President. 

The popular vote is the number of actual votes that a candidate receives from voters. The popular vote and the electoral vote can differ; in the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote to become president. 

What have been the trends in the electoral college in recent years?


2008: Barack Obama vs. John McCain

Democratic State: California (55), Oregon (7), Washington (11), Colorado (9), New Mexico (5), Minnesota (10), Iowa (7), Wisconsin (10), Illinois (21), Michigan (17), Illinois (11), Indianna (11), Ohio (20), Maine (4), New Hampshire (4), Vermont (3), New York (31), Massachusetts (12), Rhode Island (4), Connecticut (7), New Jersey (15), Delaware (3), Maryland (10), Washington D.C. (3), Pennsylvania (21), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), Florida (27), Nebraska (1), Hawaii (4)

Republican State: Idaho (4), Montana (3), Wyoming (3), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Nebraska (4), Kansas (6), Oklahoma (7), Texas (34), Arizona (10), Utah (5), Missouri (11), Arkansas (6), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Alabama (9), Georgia (15), South Carolina (8), Tennessee (11), Kentucky (8), West Virginia (5), Alaska (3)

2012: Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney 

Democratic State: California (55), Colorado (9), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), D.C. (3), Florida (29), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Iowa (6), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10),  Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), New York (29), Ohio (18), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Virginia (13), Washington (12), Wisconsin (10)

Republican State: Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3)

2016: Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump

Democratic State: California (55), Colorado (9), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), D.C. (3), Hawaii (3), Illinois (20), Maine (3), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Minnesota (10), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), New York (29), Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Virginia (13), Washington (8)

Republican State: Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arizona (11) Arkansas (6), Florida (29), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Iowa (6), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Maine (1), Michigan (16), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3), Ohio (18), Oklahoma (7), Pennsylvania (20), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (36), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), Wisconsin (10), Wyoming (3)

Other: Hawaii (1), Texas (2), Washington (4)

 How Does a Person Get Elected? 


In order to become president, a person must meet certain criteria: they must be born in the United States, have been residing in the U.S. for the past 14 years, and at least 35 years old. Each candidate then campaigns in different states to garner the support of other party members. During the election year, states hold primaries and caucuses to vote for who should represent the party in the general election. An official candidate for the party is chosen at the national convention. 

After being chosen as a party’s official presidential candidate, the candidate chooses a running mate as a Vice President. The process of campaigning in states across the country continues as the November general election nears. Citizens vote for their preferred presidential candidate on election day; they are actually voting for electors who will cast their vote for the president as a representative of their state. A candidate needs at least 270 votes to win the presidency.

How to Be More Civically Engaged?

While voting is the most obvious way of being civically engaged, the power to make a difference doesn’t stop there. From having discussions with local politicians to participating in forums, organizations, and movements, there are various opportunities to make your voice heard. 2020 has been a year of surprise, change, and action. With the 2020 election coming up, it is important that we are informed on how our votes can shape our future. Check out the 2020 Election page to learn more about fiscal issues, voter registration, and how to get involved with this year's election. Up to Us is an organization focused on educating and empowering the youth on the national debt and fiscal policy.Check out how you can get involved today. 

Stay Civically Engaged