Trump in Crisis

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The US President’s poll is pointing down

Donald Trump, the reelection of which many observers believed recently to be a deal, falls behind his rival Joe Biden in polls. According to the latest survey data from ABC News / Washington Post With 53 to 43 percent of registered voters, Biden has a lead of 10 points over Trump. Biden’s lead is as high as 13 percent among all adults.

Until recently, Trump wasn’t just pretending to be invincible. Lots thought he was too. At the beginning of February, after the killing of the Iranian general Soleimani and the Acquittal in the impeachment procedure, the Trump principle seemed to prevail. The president had the highest approval rating of his term while the Democrats didn’t even seem to be able to organize their area codes.

A quarter of a year later and a pandemic continues, the situation is different. His handling of the coronavirus, in particular, seems to have cost Trump a lot of approval. The majority of voters surveyed would trust Joe Biden to better manage the corona crisis. This is not very pleasant for the President because in the USA, how in many other countries curbing the virus is more important to a majority of the population than opening up the economy quickly.

Among the registered voters leads Biden at the national level with 53 percent to 43 percent for Trump. Two months ago, the former vice president and the current president were almost equal at 49 percent to 47 percent. Trump continues to enjoy great support among his supporters. 87 percent of Trump’s supporters declare that they support him enthusiastically, 64 percent of his supporters are even “very enthusiastic”. Biden’s supporters are not quite as enthusiastic about their candidate.

At the beginning of the Corona crisis, Trump appears to have benefited from a typical crisis effect: the President achieved his highest approval ratings in a post-ABC poll in March. In times of national crises, American voters tend to trust the President and support him. This seems to have been the case this time, too, when voters, women, and even groups that are inclined to the Democrats, initially approved Trump.

Dissatisfaction with Trump has been growing since mid-April

Using regression analysis, the demos found that the presence of COVID-19 appeared to affect voter behavior. Biden leads with 72 percent to 24 percent in the quarter of the counties in which most cases of infection occurred. In the quarter with the fewest cases, Trump leads with 60 to 38 percent. There are more Democrats in areas more affected by the pandemic. But the number of COVID-19 cases is an independent factor that predicts voter preferences.

For a short period from late March to early April, the proportion of those who approved Trump’s corona management exceeded those who were critical of his practice. But after the second week of April, one of the Evaluations of the online portal “FiveThirtyEight”, the number of dissatisfied rose steadily until it reached a plateau in the fourth week of May. At the end of May, the rate of supporters of Trump’s corona policy was only 43 percent, that of those who opposed his crisis management was over 53 percent.

Like for years correlate attitudes to the president’s performance with voters’ party preferences. Six out of ten Republicans consider the economic situation to be good, and a fifth of the Republicans even consider it very good. More than eight out of ten Democrats and almost seven out of ten independent voters rate the economy negatively. The distribution of Trump’s corona policy is similar: the majority of Republicans agree with it, while a growing number of democratic and independent voters reject it.

“Like the opening montage in a dystopian film about a nation in free fall”

The current wave of protests, which is like an epidemic, is not necessarily helpful for Trump’s election opportunities. In just a few days, a network of clusters with demonstrations and violent riots emerged from Minneapolis. In 25 cities in 16 states, curfews were imposed on the night of May 31, 2020, which some people took less seriously than the corona restrictions that were still in effect. The result was numerous violent clashes with the security forces.

While the 2002 Sars outbreak appears in retrospect to be a pretext of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020, this is true for the 1992 Los Angeles riots in relation to the George Floyd protests: If the earlier outbreak of violence was limited in space and time, numerous large cities in the USA fell into civil war-like conditions in a few days in early summer 2020. Lots of shops were burned down in Minneapolis, while demonstrators were overrun by a police vehicle in New York City.

“The last two and a half months in America”, wrote a New York Times commentator at the end of May, “felt like the opening montage in a dystopian film about a nation in free fall.” A highly flammable mixture turned America into a powder keg: mass unemployment, the inequalities made evident by the pandemic, police violence, right-wing radicals who hoped for a second civil war, and a president who poured oil on every fire. So there is a current occasion, but there are numerous reasons for the unrest.

Last but not least, a relatively manageable number of undecided voters will decide about Trump’s political fate at the ballot boxes. Some suspect that Trump will also be able to benefit from the crisis manager’s bonus in the current social crisis. But in the Corona crisis, he only managed this for a few weeks. And there are still several months before the elections.

Dr. Habil Thomas Schuster, the former consultant at Roland Berger and former author of Frankfurter Allgemeine, is a university lecturer in communication and media studies. His books “State and Media. On the Electronic Conditioning of Reality” and “The Money Trap. How Media and Banks Make Investors Losers” have been published by S. Fischer and Rowohlt Verlag.

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