Perhaps freshman Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan is correct and pollsters are once again severely undercounting Donald Trump’s level of support. The president carried Slotkin’s district by seven points, so she’s feeling endangered and it makes sense for her to plan for the worst. Or perhaps New York Times polling expert Nate Cohn is correct: “Right now, it’s extremely simple: the public has reached a harshly negative judgment of the president’s handling of the most important issue facing the country, and the issue is so paramount that there’s little room to wiggle out of it.”
Cohn compares the COVID-19 pandemic to a world war and says Trump resembles Neville Chamberlain. Personally, I’d be more inclined to compare Trump to the early Union generals who Abraham Lincoln could not convince to fight. I might go further and say Trump reminds me of Benedict Arnold who switched sides in the Revolutionary War and started helping the enemy.
Where I definitely side with Cohn is when he tries to imagine what might change to make this presidential race a closer contest.
When I'm thinking about how the race could change–say, return to Biden+6–I'm thinking about whether those conditions change. Does coronavirus subside or become less salient? Does the public's view of the president's handling improve; or, first, does POTUS change his handling?
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) July 10, 2020
Cohn concludes, “At this point, improvement would involve a change in either conditions or his conduct. At the moment, I don’t see good signs for him on either front.”
Of the two variables, it’s more likely that conditions will improve than that Trump will make a meaningful change in his behavior. It seems more plausible to me that a 100 percent cure-all COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in everyone’s mailbox by the end of next week than that Trump will suddenly begin treating this virus with the seriousness and respect displayed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
What I see is a coming fiasco with the Republican convention, followed by a continued worsening of the viral outbreak, culminating in a revolt by parents who are furious that it’s still not safe to send their kids back to school. It’s quite possible that even the stock market will conspire against Trump in the end, but even if it continues to defy gravity, the basic economic conditions in the country are going to be horrible in November, and trust in Trump to handle any kind of crisis will be at an all-time low.
My best guess is that for the rest of the campaign, every day is going to be worse for Trump than the last. And that means every day will technically be the worst day of Trump’s political life.