The first confirmed case of COVID-19 is confirmed in the U.S. (for which Trump will go after China for, and which Biden will criticize as a dog whistle), and the Democratic field is narrowing. The Democratic National Committee removes donor qualification requirements from the next debates, allowing self-funded former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg to join the debates. The remaining Democratic field and Trump himself all criticized this mid-game rules change. Seeing a surging Sanders, the DNC discusses bringing superdelegates back to the first ballot at the convention. The idea is later dismissed. Warren goes after Sanders, claiming he said that a woman would be unable to win a presidential election; however, Warren provided no evidence for her claim, and she continued to free-fall in the polls.
The Iowa Democratic Caucus endures electoral malpractice, counting errors and technological failures, making full results take over a week to be released; in the end, however, Sanders wins the popular vote but Buttigieg wins the state delegate equivalents. Trump fires back at the Democrats for the debacle, but he also acknowledges he believes the race is rigged. The same day, Trump, by a colossal but expected (for an incumbent) margin, wins the Iowa Republican Caucus. He is acquitted by the Senate, ending the impeachment trial, and he experiences a slight bump in the polls. Rep. Joe Walsh, running in the Republican primaries, drops out, calling the party “a cult” and vowing to support the Democrats in November. Sanders wins New Hampshire and Nevada. Biden comes back with a huge victory in South Carolina, re-igniting an all-but-dead campaign and bringing him back to a polling lead instead of behind Sanders. Many attribute this victory partially to the endorsement of South Carolina Rep. and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
Buttigieg, Klobuchar and others drop out of the race right before Super Tuesday, endorsing a coalescence behind Biden. Just after Super Tuesday, in which Biden sweeps the field above expectations, Bloomberg and Warren drop out. The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic, and physical rallies are cancelled halfway through the year. States like Ohio and Connecticut attempt to postpone their primaries; Gabbard drops out, endorsing Biden. The stock market crashes, both candidates plummet in support and America is quickly thrust into a recession the likes of which we have not seen since 1933.
The Democratic National Convention is delayed a month, but Wisconsin is denied the opportunity to delay its primary election by its Supreme Court. Still, more states delay primaries or cancel them outright (like New York). But at this point, Sanders has dropped out, making Biden, whom he soon endorses, the presumptive nominee. However, he will remain on the ballot to influence the party platform. Biden announces his vice presidential selection committee’s members. COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S., and the economic situation is getting no better, prompting Trump to sign the CARES Act, which includes corporate bailouts and a $1,200 stimulus check for all Americans.