Yes, President Trump is Losing | Conrad Lewandowski
Donald Trump surprised many when he was elected President in 2016. Hillary Clinton was the strong favourite and a sense of complacency had crept into the Democratic Party, with Clinton’s lack of visits to key Midwest states emblematic of this attitude. Due to this, there is a tendency among many on all sides of politics to predict Trump will win again in November’s election. However, this does not chime with the current evidence.
The current opinion polling averages have former Vice President Joe Biden almost ten points ahead of Trump, and Biden also leads in key swing states – by ten points in Michigan, eight points in Wisconsin, seven and a half points in Pennsylvania and six points in Florida. Even states that have been safely Republican for decades such as Georgia and Texas are close races. On the approval ratings side, Trump currently has a disapproval rating of over fifty-five percent. The previous presidents who had over fifty percent disapproval at this point in their presidencies were Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. This is not great company for President Trump to be in, considering they were two presidents of only a few in recent history not to be re-elected.
In response to this, many point to the common misconception that the polls were wildly off in 2016. However, the national polling average in 2016 was only two points off (Clinton was up by four points in the polls and won the popular vote by two points in the election) and it was a similar story in the average swing state. This was no more inaccurate than polls usually are in the USA for presidential elections. The problem in 2016 was the way many in the media and political establishment could not conceive of the idea of Trump winning, so ignored the data that showed this was very possible. The problem this time is the opposite, overcompensating for the mistakes of 2016 to give Trump a far greater chance than the data shows.
One key difference between 2016 and 2020 is Trump’s opponent. Clinton was a very unpopular candidate, with a negative thirteen point favourability rating at the time of the election. Biden is far more popular, with an favourable rating of less than negative two points. Pennsylvania born and with strong union ties, Biden has a greater personal appeal among the white working class voters than Clinton, who always seemed more comfortable around wealthy coastal liberals. Despite his gaffes and early primary troubles, Biden easily swept aside many rivals to win the Democratic nomination due to his political experience and electoral credentials. This has given Biden a solid base to take advantage of the three key issues of the election – coronavirus, the economy and the Black Lives Matter protests.
Coronavirus is the primary issue for Americans in the election, and Trump’s poor handling has done the most to damage his popularity. He railed against stay at home orders implemented by states to prevent the spread of the virus, made wearing masks into a partisan issue and repeatedly claimed that America should test less in order to improve the figures. Many Republican run states re-opened their economies early on Trump’s insistence and have subsequently seen large rises in cases. This has damaged Trump’s popularity, especially among older voters who were a strongly pro-Trump group in 2016. The economic damage caused by coronavirus has removed Trump’s previous key election argument of a strong economy and low unemployment. Although the blame for the root of this crisis cannot be placed at Trump’s door, voters tend to look towards opposition parties in times of hardship.
The mass Black Lives Matter protests in response to the killing of George Floyd have also damaged Trump’s re-election chances. Trump’s verbal response to the concerns of the protesters has not gone down well with moderate suburban voters (Trump’s support among black voters was very low anyway) and his slowness to take action to quell riots and disorder could dampen enthusiasm with conservatives. A recent Trump ad showed images of the recent riots with the tagline “Vote for Trump and stop it” – a strange line to take as an incumbent president.
Of course, all is not lost for Trump’s re-election, and time is his best ally. There are still four months to go until the election. A major event, such as a coronavirus vaccine, or a rapid economic recovery could once again put Trump within striking distance of Biden, leveraging his electoral college advantage to pull off another narrow win. However, as things stand, 2021 will see the inauguration of President Biden.
Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr.