Tag Archives: Coronavirus

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the 2020 Elections

submitted by Jessika Kasten

Michael WagnerThis week, UW-Madison School of Journalism Professor Michael Wagner spoke to the Downtown Rotarians on Pandemic Voting: Information, Geography and Polarization in the 2020 Elections. The J-School has done a lot of research on the impacts of media and voting and has tracked the polarization of Wisconsin voters since 1996. Since that time, we’ve seen a decline in local newspapers and local news reporting, a rise in talk radio and social media, as well as a stark rise in the amount of political advertising in our state. The School of Journalism has done a lot of research on the impact of changing information channels and has found that the broader your media diet, the more likely you are to vote outside of party lines. As an example, those who viewed a wide range of information sources were 50% more likely to split-ticket vote in an election (i.e., choose candidates from more than one party on the same ballot). Those who consumed a narrower range of media had nearly no likelihood of splitting a ticket.

The researchers also wanted to compare whether Wisconsinites were move divided on politics from other swing states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. The results were true that Wisconsinites’ attitudes around politics and social trust were more divided than other swing states. One researcher felt that those in rural and suburban areas of Wisconsin had long felt neglected and under-represented. Governor Walker’s campaign spoke to those people by denouncing Madison and Milwaukee influences, which could have had an impact in the attitudes of those outside the more metropolitan areas.

Ultimately, Professor Wagner summarized his talk by saying that Wisconsin remains divided due to partisanship, geography and the information we consume. He also made clear that these divides fracture our political and personal relationships in many cases. The good news is that a varied and wide media diet can influence these views and offer opportunities to work across party lines.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Keep Up the Good Work

submitted by President Andrea Kaminski

Social Distance

Are your hands chapped from so much washing? Do you miss your colleagues? Wish you could hug your grandchildren? Miss seeing your friends at Rotary luncheons?

Yes? Then keep up the good work!

As community leaders, Rotarians need to practice and model assiduous social distancing to the extent that our jobs or family needs allow. In fact, without widely available protective gear, testing and, ultimately, vaccination, physical distancing is the only way to contain the coronavirus threat and minimize infection.

While we look forward to a time when we can safely ease up on the restrictions, there are lessons we can learn from this experience. And I’m not just referring to my enhanced ability to connect with people online!  For example, while I have at times been frustrated by the difficulty of shopping or ordering groceries online, I’ve learned that the brands we normally buy are less important than the actual family meals in our house that bring together our kids and granddaughter.

For life to go back to “normal” we will have to keep social distancing for the foreseeable future. We can’t let our guard down before our first responders and healthcare professionals are adequately equipped to do their essential work. Here are some resources to help get us through these challenging times:



Managing Our Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

submitted by Carole Trone

FLynn Bradyellow Rotarian Lynn Brady, who is President and CEO of Journey Mental Health Center, shared her insights on “Dealing with Mental Health in the Time of the Coronavirus, a Unique National Emergency!” Brady’s presentation to the club through a virtual meeting platform on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, was an immediate reminder of the significant disruption that all of us are facing in our daily routines. Brady reflected that we are social creatures, and so this required isolation is inevitably going to have an impact. We feel uncertainty about when things will return to normal. In Brady’s work, she says that they are not currently seeing a lot of calls. Rather, people are asking for tips on dealing with stress; how to talk to children about the issue; and how they might reach out in the future to a mental health professional. The mental health professionals that she works with also need a chance to talk through the issues.

Brady walked her audience through the stages of mental stress that the coronavirus has brought, from disruption and worry at a personal level to an increased level of community anxiety about jobs and access to necessities. People at different ages will exhibit signs of stress differently and it’s especially important not to dismiss the distress that older people feel as a normal aspect of aging. Brady provided ideas for how we, as leaders in our community and at work, can provide structure and support to our colleagues and those we supervise. Routines and ongoing opportunities to discuss challenges and to stay in touch are supportive for everyone. Think about the immediate and also the longer term plans of dealing with this crisis. Be sure to thank people who are in the mental health field.

In closing, Brady reminded her audience that Journey Mental Health Center has a crisis line: 608-280-2600, and it is staffed  24/7, 365 days a year.

If you missed our online meeting this week, you can watch the video here.