The Constitution has pretty clear guidance on what to do if a president becomes incapacitated or dies while in office, as laid out in the 25th Amendment.
It’s unclear what effect the diagnosis will have on the election, said Cornell Clayton, the director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University. A total of eight U.S. presidents have died in office, four of natural causes and four by the hand of an assassin. None of them became ill or were killed so close to an election day.
There’s a clear line of succession laid out in federal law if a president becomes incapacitated before an election, Clayton said.
“I don’t think there’s any problem about who’s going to be in charge,” Clayton said. “We know that; there’s a process for that.”
In an age where more and more political advertising is moving online, Washington State University researchers have found ads on Facebook use more partisan language than those on TV but are generally less negative.
“One of the findings is that the ads themselves are quite different — you find a lot more negativity on TV than you do on digital advertising but on digital ads, you find more partisanship,” said WSU professor of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, and author on the study, Travis Ridout. “The other main finding or the main difference there is that digital advertising is actually less likely to talk about policy issues than is TV advertising.”
Ridout said there are a number of reasons for the disparities between the two mediums, including that the goals for digital advertisements are much more extensive than their televised counterparts. He said while both formats endeavor to persuade viewers to be sympathetic toward a particular point of view, digital ads may also seek to fundraise, gather demographic information or mobilize voters.
The Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service is bringing its Fall 2020 lecture series online with political science professors and experts from across the country.
“There are challenges of course – engaging with an audience who have to ask questions online and have it translated through me to the speakers – but we’ve also found it easier to bring people from across the country to our WSU audiences,” Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute, said.
“With this series we knew that because it’s an election year people are going to be inundated with all of the events surrounding the horse race of the campaign,” Clayton said. “We’re less interested in that and more interested in providing academic and scholarship perspective on what’s going on within the campaigns and the election process.”
Washington state saw its highest primary turnout in more than five decades, with 55% of the state’s 4.6 million voters returning ballots for last week’s election, setting the stage for a potential record-breaking turnout in November.
Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University, said the high turnout indicates a heightened level of fear among voters in both parties.
“I think the level of concern — because of polarization and because of the Covid economic crisis the country is in — is going to drive record levels of engagement across the nation,” he said.
The final turnout number won’t be known until next week, after county canvassing boards have reviewed any ballots that have been challenged over issues like signatures or postmarks.
Washington state’s primary elections are Tuesday. In Clark County, staunchly right ideals – backed by the local GOP – will be facing off against a right-of-center ethos that moderate Republicans say is best for the county’s purple districts.
And while primaries often reveal a party’s fault lines, political experts and candidates said there is a particularly bitter recent history among Clark County Republicans.
Infighting occurs constantly within the two umbrella parties, said Mark Stephan, a political science instructor at Washington State University Vancouver. It may be less noticeable in Democrats today, however, because political groups coalesce more if they have a common enemy.
“That was true for Hillary Clinton, that is true for Donald Trump,” Stephan said. “That tends to get people to focus a bit on opposition rather than each other. That can help.”