An 'October surprise' vaccine could end up crippling Trump's re-election chances: columnist

According to columnist Michael Tomasky, Donald Trump may face a dilemma if scientists come up with a vaccine right before the election after he spent months pushing an alternative drug that his followers already believe is a cure and standing by while some of his followers push conspiracy theories about any government-approved drugs.


Writing for the Daily Beast, the longtime political observer said the rumored "October surprise" -- the announcement of a COVID-19 vaccine right before the election-- might be a mixed blessing for the president since his standing in the polls seems locked in place no matter what he does.

As Tomasky sees it, the president endorsing a vaccine would likely alienate some of his most avid supporters who might stay away on November 3rd election day in a fit of pique.

"Some of his supporters, surely, are people who trust science and would take a vaccine. But a big chunk of his base consists of people who think any vaccine is some plot by Anthony Fauci to make a bajillion dollars and George Soros to sterilize the male population; they will be suspicious of a vaccine and unwilling to take it," the columnist suggested. "So whatever vaccine position he takes, he’s going to turn off one group or the other."

What should worry the president, he noted, was a May Washington Post poll that showed, among self-described Republicans only 58 percent said they would "definitely or probably" take advantage of a vaccine.

That would Trump in the position of turning off some of those potential voters if he stared touting a cure after undermining scientists and health officials.

"Meanwhile, out there in Crazytown, there’s a lot of weird talk whipping around," he wrote. "This looniness is only going to get worse in the coming weeks, as the election draws closer along with the prospects for a vaccine. At that point, Republicans may be deeply split on the question of the efficacy of a vaccine. There will be those who are mostly turned off by Trump’s bluster and will silently and responsibly wear their masks to the store and take a dose when it becomes available. And there will be those who believe everything they read on Facebook, which by October will no doubt implicate Hillary [Clinton] and [John] Podesta, too."  

So what will Trump do, he asked.

"I say Trump will face a huge dilemma if there’s an October vaccine. Whatever he says then will alienate a significant percentage of Republican voters. And the best part is that it’s all his doing, for sneering at science and promoting quackery and not wearing a mask and encouraging all these rumors."

You can read more here (subscription required).