The State of the Race, For Now

President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters tend to dismiss any polls results they don’t want to hear as “fake news,” but Trump is taking his recent bad numbers very seriously. Polling commissioned by the Republican National Committee and the Trump reelection campaign reportedly corroborate the publicly released surveys showing a decline in Trump’s approval ratings in the wake of the coronavirus, and Trump is reportedly furious about it.
We’re inclined to believe the reporting, because Trump has started heeding the advice of Republican party officials to stop doing the daily press briefings that he clearly enjoyed and taking a less visible and voluble role in in the administration’s response to the epidemic. Some pretty convincing data is needed to pry Trump away from his highly rated television shows, and the opportunity to lash out at the reporters in attendance, so the party and campaign polling must be very worrisome.
All of the recent publicly released polls show a majority of the public is dissatisfied with Trump’s efforts regarding coronavirus and only a minority believe anything Trump says about it. The polls show Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden not only nationally but also in the swing state’s that gave Trump his surprising victory in the Electoral College. There’s an ample amount of anecdotal evidence for Trump’s unpopularity, too, and with death toll rising daily an the employment rate falling it would be surprising if Trump were becoming more popular.
The election is more than six months away, though, and a lot could change between now and then. A quick end to the coronavirus and a rapidly rebounding economy are possible if not probable, and the chances of Biden making some catastrophic campaign error are very good. Trump has long predicted that the media will eventually start giving him favorable for fear that Americans will stop consuming news if someone more boring replaces him in the White House, but we probably shouldn’t bet on that happening.
According to both The Washington Post and The New York Times, Trump reacted to the internal polling by shouting angrily at his campaign. Trump will probably find other scapegoats, too, but that won’t solve his political problems. He’ll need to take responsibility, and change his behave to win over voters who aren’t satisfied to see reporters being insulted and critics ridiculed and want actual results instead. Nothing that’s happened in the past three years give us any confidence that might happen.
Trump faces difficult choices, and must weigh the often competing interests of public health and the economy, and we hope he chooses wisely. The best choices for the long term might not be the most popular in the short term, and we’ll even hold out faint hope that Trump does the right thing.

— Bud Norman

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