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2020 FALL | Politics, Pandemic and Protests
September 23, 2020 @ 12:00 am - November 18, 2020 @ 12:00 am
Unpacking the 2020 general election with the Dole Institute’s fall fellow, Collen McCain Nelson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Vice-President of the Kansas City Star.
Dole Fellow Colleen McCain Nelson
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The Dole Discussion Groups are made possible by a grant from Newman’s Own.
Election 2020: The State of the Race
As the 2020 presidential campaign enters the final sprint to the finish, we’ll kick off this fall discussion series by assessing the state of the race after a tumultuous and unpredictable spring and summer. Which states are likely to decide this election? What issues and messages are resonating with voters? This will be a broad overview of the political landscape and a prelude to future Dole Institute events, touching on campaign strategy, fundraising, and the state of play in the battle for control of Congress.
Allan J. Katz served as Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Portugal from March 2010 until August 2013. Upon returning to private life, Ambassador Katz joined the University of Missouri in Kansas City (UMKC) as a Distinguished Professor where he served from 2013 until 2019. In 2019, he joined the faculty of William Jewell College as Distinguished Professor in Residence. Additionally, in 2014, he founded and remains CEO and Chairman of an NGO, American Public Square, which brings together non-like-minded people to engage in civil, fact-based dialogue about polarizing issues. He serves as Executive Committee Chair of the Academic and Corporate Board to ISCTE Business School in Lisbon, Portugal. Additionally, he serves as a non-executive Board Member of EDP Renewables (global energy company, a leader in the utilities sector and part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index), a board member of the Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Foundation, and a former board member of the International Relations Council of Kansas City.
Kevin Yoder is a 5th generation Kansan who represented the 3rd District of Kansas for four terms from 2011-2019. During his entire tenure in Congress, Kevin served on the House Appropriations Committee, where he chaired both the Homeland Security and the Legislative Branch Subcommittees. He regularly crossed the aisle working with members of both parties to push for key initiatives, including historic expansion of medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health and new investments in early childhood education programs like Head-start. Prior to serving in Congress, Kevin was elected four times to the Kansas State Legislature representing Overland Park and Leawood, and he served as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Kevin is a graduate of the University of Kansas.
Why did everyone underestimate Joe Biden?
Even though Joe Biden entered the 2020 Democratic presidential primary as the front-runner, many political pundits and journalists lost confidence in the former vice president along the way, writing his political obituary and declaring him an also-ran who had missed his moment. How did they get this race so wrong? And at a moment when it appeared that Sen. Bernie Sanders was gaining steam and possibly emerging as an unstoppable force, how did Biden quickly change the narrative and begin to unify the party?
Edward-Isaac Dovere is a staff writer for The Atlantic, where he covers the presidential campaign. He got his start covering politics in his native New York and was the senior White House reporter for POLITICO in Barack Obama’s second term. He is currently working on a book about Democrats in the Trump years, tentatively titled, “You Are Right to Be Concerned,” out spring 2021.
Peter Nicholas is a White House reporter for The Atlantic. He has also worked at the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Times-Picayune newspaper.
How the Coronavirus Has Upended the 2020 Campaign
With relatively little warning, the coronavirus pandemic brought the 2020 presidential campaign to a virtual halt, cancelling candidates’ rallies for months, throwing the conventions into limbo, shutting down in-person fundraisers and making gladhanding and personal appeals to voters an impossibility. For a time, President Donald Trump was confined to the White House, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden was forced to campaign from his basement in Delaware. How did the campaigns adapt? And how is COVID-19 still altering the dynamics of the race?
It’s the Economy, Stupid
Conventional wisdom has long suggested that presidents win reelection when the economy is strong and lose when the economy is faltering. Will that hold true in the 2020 election? For three years, President Donald Trump could lay claim to a thriving economy, low unemployment and a strong stock market. But the bottom fell out when the coronavirus took hold in this country, spurring Depression-era unemployment and gutting entire industries. Will voters hold Trump responsible for the economic fallout from a pandemic?
A War of Disinformation
What role is disinformation playing in the 2020 presidential campaign? In 2016, many were shocked — shocked! — to learn that completely false “news” stories about the election were shared far and wide on social media. Four years later, little has been done to slow the spread of disinformation on a variety of online platforms. Foreign governments have made no secret of their intent to meddle in our elections. And the president himself has had a tenuous relationship with the truth, elevating conspiracy theories and repeating falsehoods. What can voters do to separate fact from fiction?
Do Endorsements Matter?
Time was, newspaper endorsements were a consequential boost for campaigns. But in an era of multiplying media outlets and declining newspaper subscriptions, do endorsements still carry the same weight? In 2016, Donald Trump earned the endorsements of only 20 daily newspapers in the entire country, but he won the White House. We’ll convene opinion journalists to explore what role editorial boards are playing in the 2020 election and consider the question of whether traditional candidate endorsements have outlived their usefulness.
Election 2020: Lessons Learned
With the 2020 election now in the rearview mirror, we’ll do a deep dive into the deciding factors in this year’s presidential campaign. Did polls, journalists, and political prognosticators get it right this time? What surprised us on Election Day? Were the mistakes of 2016 repeated in 2020? We’ll wrap up this election season with an assessment of lessons learned from the 2020 campaign and a look ahead to what awaits the next president and Congress.