The election of the new President of the United States is approaching, but the pandemic has grinded to a halt a year of intense political activity. Lee Neves, a political strategist in California, explains how the COVID-19 pandemic is revolutionizing campaigns.

One of the most contested primaries in the Democratic Party, and certainly the most suitors in The Democrats’ history, was heating up with the first votes earlier this year. A hotly contested race was anticipated between Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s former vice president, and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator representing the left wing of the party.

Joe Biden gained a decisive lead on Super Tuesday and the next two votes, when, unexpectedly, the pandemic virtually stopped the campaign.

The support at the Texas rally by the dropout candidates, Pete Buttgieg and Amy Kloubachar, who had been instrumental in winning Texas, is now on a far distant past, and moments that would be pivotal to give a boost to the Democratic nominee came to be made through a computer.

With no solution in sight and many doubts about the future, those behind the campaigns are trying to adapt, without any script, to another hot summer in American politics.

A revolution in how to campaign

Lee Neves is a political consultant in California, where he owns and manages Cross Currents LLC, a company specializing in the development and management of election campaigns. His parents emigrated from the Azores to the Central Valley after they were married.

Lee Neves, Owner and Principal of Cross Currents LLC

With a history of success since he founded his company, and two decades of experience in the sector, Lee Neves builds campaigns from the ground up, from the moment of the decision of the candidacy until the election day. But with the pandemic, he was faced with an unprecedented situation: an election year with people closed at home.

“It really has changed the dinamyc, as to where a lot of the core of how you campaign is a lot of door to door, person to person interaction, walking door to door and targeting precints, to in-person rallies, to in-person fundraising. Now, that has really changed–Lee Neves.

The measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 forced social distancing and the cancellation of major events, essential for a campaign to gain strength and fire-up voters. Given this scenario, much is being done from home.

“A lot of my clients now do a lot of weekly facebook live chats with the voters in their district, we have those set at a certain day a certain time, so everyone knows it’s coming. Those have been very successful, starting to do a lot of peer to peer tech stints, starting that in the primary.”

Even fundraising, fundamental to the survival of a candidate in a hotly contested market, has moved into a virtual world, with candidates asking for financial support at conferences through the Zoom platform. The changes are many and the situation is unprecedented.

“A lot of us are learning on the fly and adapting as we can. I like to think I did a pretty good job at adapting so far, November 3rd will tell.”