President Donald Trump had been planning to run an election on the strength of the American economy -- but after more than 10 million Americans filed for unemployment claims over a span of two weeks, the president can no longer claim to be overseeing the "best economy ever."
Because of this, writes polling analyst Kyle Kondik, Trump's reelection bid is starting to look like the doomed campaign of former President Jimmy Carter, who similarly faced major challenges at a crucial stretch during the 1980 presidential race.
Kondik writes that although Trump has received a modest approval ratings boost since the COVID-19 pandemic caught fire last month, Carter similarly received a bump at the start of the Iran hostage crisis that would ultimately sink his presidency.
"Carter’s approval shot up to the high 50s in the Gallup poll in the midst of the hostage crisis after it was in the low 30s before it, a massive boost that would revert to the low 30s by the summer," he argues. "Henry Olsen, a conservative Washington Post columnist, noted earlier this week that Trump’s recent bump is not only modest compared to past presidents, but also to other world leaders."
In addition to this, Kondik notes that Trump has made so many false and inflammatory statements during the crisis that he has provided Democrats with a treasure trove of material to use in campaign ads.
"2020 has been a year of 'bleak tidings' for the United States, at least so far," he concludes. "This parallel to 1980 poses a real challenge to an incumbent president whose reelection chances were very much in question even during sunnier times."