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Here’s how Trump’s positive coronavirus test has shaken up the campaign – plus what could happen next


President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One

President Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus test has scrambled the White House race with 32 days remaining until the election, calling into question the future of in-person events including the next debates with Joe Biden.

Trump had been trailing in polls of key swing-state voters, as well as nationally, and his diagnosis means he’ll scrap a planned Friday rally in battleground state Florida.

While Trump quarantines at the White House, Biden’s schedule still shows the Democratic nominee heading to Michigan – another battleground state – on Friday. Biden will speak in Grand Rapids “on building back the economy better for working families,” his campaign said.

While much remains unknown about the future, MarketWatch has a few answers to questions that have arisen in the wake of the news about the president.

Data point

Polling avg. in top swing states

Biden +3.5 vs. Biden +3.6 a week ago

National polling avg.

Biden +7.2 vs. Biden +6.7 a week ago

Betting markets

Biden 61%, Trump 39% vs. Biden 54%, Trump 46% a week ago

S&P 500
-0.6% Friday, -6.2% in 1 month

CBOE Volatility Index
+4.3% Friday, +4.8% in 1 month

What happens if things take a turn for the worse? Vice President Mike Pence would be the next president. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is next in line.

Read more: Trump’s positive coronavirus test puts spotlight on presidential line of succession

The election is 32 days away. Could it be postponed? Congress could pass a bill delaying the election. Election law expert Rick Hasen said in a blog post that he finds it hard to believe that U.S. lawmakers would do that.

What happens for the election if the president is incapacitated or dies? What’s most likely is that the election would take place on time with a deceased or incapacitated candidate’s name on the ballot, wrote Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine.

“Then there would be a question [as to whether] legislatures would allow presidential electors of each state to vote for someone other than the deceased candidate,” he said.

“This could lead to a whole lot of mischief if, say, the Pennsylvania Republican legislature tried, over the Democratic governor’s objection, to appoint electors to vote for Pence (if it were Trump who could no longer be a candidate) despite a vote [by] the people of Pennsylvania for Biden over Trump.”

Polling average for top swing states

Source: RealClearPolitics

What about the remaining debates? Still uncertain but some impact is likely. Trump and Biden were scheduled to debate on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. Observers are speculating the debates might not be in-person events. The vice presidential debate, set for next Wednesday, might also be impacted.

Does this impact pandemic relief legislation? Greg Valliere, chief strategist at AGF Investments, said it might renew efforts to pass a relief measure.

U.S. stocks

lost ground Friday, as traders reacted to a weaker-than-expected jobs report for September and news that the president and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

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