Trump headed to 'devastating' defeat thanks to his botched COVID actions: MSNBC's John Heilemann
President Donald Trump at a Florida campaign rally in Sanford (screengrab)

MSNBC's John Heilemann predicted a "devastating" election loss for President Donald Trump.


The "Morning Joe" contributor said the president's continued mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his attacks on governors who've earned high marks for their leadership during the public health crisis, would sink his re-election chances.

"His behavior around Gov. [Gretchen] Whitmer is classic Trump," Heilemann said. "I want to segregate that out for a second because it's so repulsive and disgusting and appalling that the guy who incited the militia members, who said 'liberate Michigan,' who sent the signal to the militias in Michigan, when Gov. Whitmer was trying to keep her state safe and then indirectly, indirectly but clearly lit the match in that state that led to a kidnapping plot that was not just a kidnapping plot, but taking her off into the woods of Wisconsin and having an al-Qaeda-style show trial which was going to end in her death, so it was a kidnapping and eventually a murder plot."

"The fact that the president makes light of that, given his role in it, is a disgusting form of Trumpian narcissism," Heilemann added.

Heilemann said voters have repeatedly rejected Republicans during Trump's time in office, and he said those have been referendums for the president himself.

"The Republican Party has been beaten senseless in special elections, every election," he said. "The country has been trying by proxy to vote Donald Trump out of office for four years. If this race was going to be about Donald Trump, he was going to lose. Then you layer on the pandemic, which Trump's approval ratings have been stuck in the mid-30s for the last seven or eight months, that exacerbates the problems, and he holds the rallies and makes vivid his disregard for human life, for the virus."

The president's approval is collapsing among seniors, women and college-educated voters, and Heilemann said that's a direct result of his mishandling of the pandemic.

"We are going to read for the next year and probably for the next 10 years about the sabermetric analysis going on out there that shows this incredible correlation, state by state, in some cases county by county and congressional district by congressional district, that when coronavirus cases go up, the president's poll numbers go down," he said.

"As this pandemic surges in Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, all the big battleground states across the Midwest," Heilemann added, "it's a devastating political reality for Donald Trump to be heading into these last two weeks with the thing that is the worst thing that could happen for him politically on fire in [these] states, and then you add in his behavior. It's crippling, crippling dynamic that I think he's facing not only a defeat but a pretty devastating one."