Episode 08: COVID-19’s Effects on Local and National Elections with Bruce Larson

Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1

President’s Office


In Episode 8 of Conversations Beneath the Cupola, podcast host, Gettysburg College President Robert W. Iuliano is joined by Chair and Prof. of Political Science Bruce Larson. Iuliano and Larson discuss how the COVID-19 outbreak has and will continue to impact ongoing primary elections across the country, how the administration’s response to the health crisis today may affect the presidential election in November, and more.

The episode begins with Larson making sense of the current health situation from a political angle, particularly looking back over time. During the ongoing primary elections, it is a health risk to show up at the polls, and he says the uncertainty about how long the virus and subsequent closures will last, make this context fairly unique in American political history. He shares that the closest event in history to what the country is experiencing now, was the flu pandemic of 1918.

The conversation continues as Iuliano asks Larson about the practicality of the government, in short notice, introducing a new means of voting that would still be fair and that wouldn’t undermine legitimacy. Larson notes that several states are currently implementing mail-in voting, and looking at the scenario from an observer’s point of view, he says Democrats typically favor and benefit from mail-in balloting. Beyond the effects of mail-in voting positively affecting one political party over the other, Larson shares that he doesn’t think that the COVID-19 situation will help people with differing views find common ground, though he wishes it would.

Looking forward to the November presidential election, Larson says its uncharted territory. On the day the podcast conversation took place, it was 209 days until election day, and Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race. What’s in store in the months to come is uncertain, but Larson predicts that it may be another close election.

The episode concludes with an anecdotal “Slice of Life” told through the president’s perspective. Iuliano spotlights biology major Julia Palmucci ’18, who read about an older couple who was anxious about visiting the grocery store amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and she saw an opportunity to help. She and a team of friends have since joined together to help at-risk populations by picking up their groceries or running other essential errands.


A full transcript of the podcast is available on the podcast website.