According to longtime political observer David Leonhardt, Donald Trump’s chances of being re-elected are diminishing every day as the economy continues to crash and Americans are dying because of the COVID-19 pandemic despite “snapshot polls” saying voters are still supportive of him.
Writing for the New York Times, the columnist notes that the full horrors of what is now occurring won’t fully be revealed for months to come — and for Trump, the resulting damage may be too much to overcome in November when voters head to the polls.
“The strangest part of President Trump’s coronavirus response is that it’s almost certainly damaging his chances of re-election,” Leonhardt began before adding, “I realize that may sound surprising, given that his approval rating has been rising. But when you look beyond day-to-day events — which Trump often struggles to do — you see that he is creating the conditions for a miserable summer and fall, with extended virus outbreaks and a deeper recession. The summer and fall, of course, are the crux of the presidential campaign.”
By way of explanation, he suggested that Trump’s focus in his daily press conferences with trying to put an optimistic spin on efforts to stem the coronavirus health crisis will likely blow up in his face as the deaths mount, businesses stay shut down and voters realize things are a long way from regaining any semblance of normalcy.
“Trump’s virus strategy revolves around trying to make the present seem as good as possible, without much concern for the future. He spent almost two months denying that the virus was a serious problem and falsely claiming that the number of cases was falling,” he wrote. “But the number of American infections is now rising uniquely fast, with 96,000 new cases in the last week — more than twice as many as in any seven-day period in any other country.”
According to the columnist, Trump’s chances of re-election will be imperiled by the rising death rates as well as the plummeting economy despite the multi-billion dollar stimulus package.
“And the longer that the country is gripped by the virus, the deeper that the economic downturn will be,” he explained. ” Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago professor, refers to this as the first rule of ‘virus economics’: The only way to resuscitate the economy is to stop the virus. Premature attempts to restart business activity will lead to further outbreaks, which will cause more fear and new shutdowns.”
“The economic costs are still severe. Today, the most effective response would probably be a two-month national shutdown, accompanied by a modestly larger stimulus bill than Congress just passed, both to pay many Americans’ salaries and to bolster the health care system,” he elaborated. “Had Trump taken this approach in late February, a full month after the first American fell ill, he could have vastly reduced the human and economic toll. Even if he took it now, he could probably get the country functioning close to normally by early summer. Instead, he is talking about normalcy by April — and making it likely that things will still be abnormal in July.”
“I can’t tell you exactly what the future will bring, especially during a crisis unlike any the world has confronted in a century. It’s possible that Trump could somehow luck out and the virus will end up being less gruesome for all of us,” he wrote, before concluding, “But that’s not the likely outcome. And nobody should forget that he is choosing a path that endangers lives and jobs mostly because it feels better to him in the moment.”
You can read the whole piece here.