- The Democrats tone deafness in handling the Coronavirus crisis could hand Trump re-election victory.
- After a poor showing at the outset Trump is doing a credible job managing the crisis.
- The more the Democrats try to take advantage of the situation for political gain the less likely they are to win back the White House.
Throughout the coronavirus crisis I’ve repeatedly used a term in my analysis of the Presidential election odds that you’ll hear a lot more going forward: tone deafness. No, I’m not saying that these politicians can’t distinguish differences in musical pitch (though they probably can’t do that either). Here’s the metaphorical definition of ‘tone deafness’:
having or showing an obtuse insensitivity or lack of perception particularly in matters of public sentiment, opinion, or taste
There’s been so much tone deafness on display during the past month it’s hard to keep track of. Initially, it was President Donald Trump who completely bungled his first major address to the nation on the Coronavirus crisis. Here’s what I said at the time:
This is all based on Trump’s poor response to the Coronavirus crisis where he has gone from expressing optimism that it wasn’t going to be ‘worst case scenario’ to looking completely lost and not having a clue how to demonstrate leadership. It’s important to keep in mind that Biden and the Democrats haven’t done anything to cut in to Trump’s lead–the President did this all on his own.
At least in this situation, the President appears to be learning from his mistakes. Here’s what I said he needed to do if he wanted to regain his electoral momentum:
Trump’s task at this point is two fold: 1) Show leadership and reassure the American people. Think George W. Bush after 9/11. 2) Calm the financial markets with some type of economic stimulus. Instead of doing that, Trump’s Europe travel ban did nothing more than kick the already reeling airline and tourism industries squarely in the groin.
TRUMP BOUNCES BACK
Much to my surprise, Trump has delivered on both counts as the Coronavirus crisis has worsened in the United States. Even more bizarre–Trump now sounds like the only adult in the room. It’s a good thing since he has a nasty situation on his hands and is in a position where he has to do two sometimes contradictory things at once. He’s got to spearhead the response to the coronavirus health emergency while doing everything he can to minimize collateral damage to the economy.
There’s no blueprint for how to respond to this situation and the American people appear to realize that–a Gallup poll released recently indicated that 60% of Americans think he’s doing a good job managing the crisis. For a President that has never received an approval rating of more than 49% that’s remarkable. I’ve never liked Trump but I have to concur–he’s doing a decent job managing one of the biggest challenges that any President has stared down at any point during the past 75 years.
What the Democrats need to do now is quit campaigning, at least overtly. The more they try to politicize the coronavirus pandemic the more likely that Trump will be re-elected in November. To date, they’ve done an awful–yep, downright tone deaf–job. Here’s the way the electoral dynamics work out: there’s a core group of people that have a seething hatred for Trump and a core group of people who strongly support Trump. These groups will go out and vote accordingly. Generally speaking, the remaining 55% or so of the American people have tapped out of this type of partisan political nonsense.
Were it not for the coronavirus crisis, the dynamic would have been similar to what we saw in 2016. That’s bad news for the Democrats, since they’ve nominated a candidate that no one is excited about. Trump’s electoral basis is still loyal and relatively enthusiastic so there’s every reason to think they’ll have a stronger turnout.
THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN TOUGH POLITICAL SHAPE
The Democrats need to realize–and to do so quickly–that they have to quit giving the impression that they’re hoping for Trump to fail in his management of the coronavirus crisis. That would be the best thing for them politically but even *that* could be counterproductive. Generally speaking, most people outsize of their tribe of ‘true believers’ understand the gravity of the situation. They may not like Trump, but given the high stakes crisis he’s dealing with they’re genuinely hoping he’s successful at navigating the country through this. And why wouldn’t they be? With the alternative being millions of dead Americans and economic devastation it’s downright pathological not to be pulling for the guy at this point.
What the Democrats don’t get is every time they obstruct a Presidential effort to deal with the crisis as they did in delaying the recently passed relief bill by a couple of days and every time they crack back or second guess the President it gives the impression that they’d gladly take 20% unemployment and scores of dead Americans if it meant winning the election in November. Maybe President Trump *isn’t* the person most qualified to deal with a completely unprecedented crisis. But guess what? He’s the guy driving the bus. The Democrats desperately need to start acting like they want to see him deal with this situation successfully because–like it or not–the well being of the entire country, the economy and the people of the United States is inextricably linked with Trump.
That’s the reality of the situation. Unfortunately for the Democrats, I don’t think they’re capable of showing that kind of restraint. They keep doubling down on a strategy that is doomed to failure. They might get huzzahs from the Trump hating tribe but they’re pushing the mass of undecided voters closer to the President’s camp with every cynical and overtly partisan response. Now the word is that some Democratic Super Pac is running *attack ads* against the President in the midst of this crisis. I’m sure NYC elitists and Wellesley graduates howl with excitement every time these ads run. That’s not going to get back the White House and to the contrary it’s a very bad look during a completely unprecedented crisis. The Democrats haven’t looked this far out of touch with the mood of the electorate in a long time.
ODDS TO WIN THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Donald Trump -150 Joe Biden +130
Here are my revised odds to win the 2020 Presidential Election. The majority of Americans realize that Trump is facing a gargantuan challenge and that our well being–physically and economically–is dependent on him managing this crisis successfully. The Democrats will have a time when they can revisit history and outline how they would have done things differently. This isn’t it, however, and their efforts to do so now is downright offensive to everyone outside of their Trump hating tribe. Their increasing desperation is understandable. This is really their worst nightmare politically–Trump has been handed a thorny challenge that could be his defining moment as President. To the surprise of everyone–myself included–he’s so far risen to the occasion.