This question asks for what would happen in a "hypothetical scenario" in which presidential elections were suspended or otherwise could not take place in the US due to a coronavirus pandemic. I initially voted to close this question, and it was closed by other members of the community, however it has now been reopened and seems to be fairly well received.

My understanding was that questions that ask for predictions for future events were off topic, due to the fact that any answers could only consist of speculation. A valid rephrasing of the question might be therefore: "Have US presidential elections been disrupted by pandemics before? What has happened in these cases?". Is my understanding incorrect?

2 Answers 2


I think the standard of "future stuff" applies mainly to how politicians will act in a given circumstance. It would be off-topic to ask if Boris Johnson would rejoin the European Union, for instance.

The key word here that differentiates is contingency. We do allow questions to be hypothetical if they are about if a government has a plan should X happen. So we have a question about a hypothetically imprisoned US president. Questions must have an objective answer of some sort.

Were you wrong?

Not necessarily. We disagree about closure here all the time. For now, the community sees it as needing to remain open. Without a clear reason to close it again, it looks like it's open for now. It happens. Since it has an objective answer, it looks to be left open.

  • 1
    I think this is closely related to the difference between Good Subjective vs Bad Subjective. Bad hypotheticals ask for things that can't possibly be known, but good hypotheticals ask for things that can be objectively answered with sources. Good hypotheticals can also be reworded to ask about something specific without being hypothetical, e.g. as you say "Does a contingency exist for (...)"
    – user5155
    Mar 2, 2020 at 22:23

Was I wrong to VTC this question?

No, I don't think you were wrong, for exactly the reasons you give.

Having said that, I think that @ohwilleke wrote an excellent answer that rescues the question. Therefore I don't see enough reason to VTC myself at this point in time. (I would have without that answer)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .