Trump may have power, but he still has no plan to fight the pandemic

Trump may have power, but he still has no plan to fight the pandemic
© Getty Images

Donald Trump has the power of the presidency but no plan to fight the pandemic. President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE’s hope is to convince Americans to ignore the plague and return to life as normal by reopening the economy now — and schools next month — while the pandemic rages unabated. The problem is the public’s caution clashes with Trump’s willingness to risk the health, wealth and wellbeing of the public to advance his own personal political prospects.

Recent national polls indicate how profoundly the pandemic has shocked the public and rocked the president’s approval rating.

The headline on the story on the Fox News Channel survey, “Biden holds lead over Trump as coronavirus concerns grip nation”, said it all. Former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE leads the current president by eight points (49 to 41 percent) in the trial heat. Only one in five Americans (20 percent) feel the COVID-19 pandemic is “mostly” or “completely” under control. Only a third (36 percent) of the public say schools should completely resume in-person classes.

ADVERTISEMENT

The ABC news poll contained more bad news for President Trump. A large majority (64 percent) of Americans indicated they don’t trust his pronouncements on the pandemic. Respondents also placed a greater priority on fighting the pandemic over reopening the economy. 

There’s good reason for Americans to be so concerned and so cautious. More than 4 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and more than 141,000 have died from the disease. Worse than that, the number of new cases reported every day are at record levels. Not coincidentally, the president resumed his daily COVID-19 briefings last week, during which he not only opted to wear a mask, but urged Americans to do the same — a move that seems to have come too little and too late.

The political problems that President Trump faces because of his “laissez faire” approach to fighting the coronavirus are daunting. There are less than 100 days until the referendum on the president’s pandemic performance, and the early indications are troubling for the incumbent.

The presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has a nine percent lead nationally, according to Real Clear Politics. But even more encouraging for the former vice president is his advantage in the battleground states that will dictate victory in the Electoral College. New CNN polls indicate that Biden leads in the key states of Michigan, Florida and Arizona. Almost six in 10 of the voters in all three states disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Trump won all three states in 2016. 

The CNN survey in the three swing states also suggests the failure to contain the plague could help downballot Democrats.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Democratic edge in the Sunshine State coincides with the surge in COVID-19 cases there. Two thirds (63 percent) of the voters say Republican Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisKey swing-state election lawsuits could help shape the presidential race First death reported from Hurricane Sally in Alabama Trump tells Gulf Coast residents to prepare for 'extremely dangerous' Hurricane Sally MORE could be doing more to fight the outbreak.

His GOP colleague, Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyKelly's lead widens to 10 points in Arizona Senate race: poll Polls show trust in scientific, political institutions eroding Coronavirus victim's daughter: Dad could have been spared if Trump told public what he told Woodward MORE, doesn’t fare any better; a large majority (66 percent) fault his performance on responding to the pandemic. In contrast, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gets high marks for her handling of the coronavirus crisis. 

DeSantis and Ducey’s inaction has left their states vulnerable. As of early July, Sun Belt states saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, surpassing any other part in the country. 

These assessments of gubernatorial performance — or lack thereof — could have a major impact on state legislative races in the three states.

In addition, there are races in Michigan and Arizona that are vital to the battle for Democrats to take control of the U.S. Senate. In Michigan, Democratic Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersBiden promises Democratic senators help in battleground states Postal service changes delayed 7 percent of nation's first-class mail: Democratic report GOP votes to authorize subpoenas, depositions in Obama-era probe MORE has a double-digit lead over his GOP challenger, John James. While in Arizona, Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg Democratic senator calls for eliminating filibuster, expanding Supreme Court if GOP fills vacancy What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies MORE trails her Democratic rival, Mark Kelly.

Republican failures at the state and at the national level have caused much personal tragedy for people around the country, and wreaked havoc on the party’s message for the 2020 campaign.

Trump’s promise that he would make America great again is laughable. The new GOP slogan, “The Great American Comeback has Begun” is an insult in the face of a rising tide of new pandemic cases and unemployment claims. COVID-19 is the worst pandemic since the “Spanish Flu” a century ago. A more appropriate slogan for the Trump campaign would be, “We Made America Contagious Again.” 

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.