Cliff’s Take: Can Trump Bend Our Reality?

Coronavirus Cases Surge, Trump Begins Damage Control

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
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Trump’s numbers are really bad right now.  This is not news, many have been harping on this for weeks. Trump, though, looks to be heeding the signals from public opinion.  The president’s last two pressers have employed an adjusted tone and direction concerning the pandemic—yes, the pandemic is bad and let’s all be careful out there. 

Can’t deny the facts on the ground as they stand now.  Or can you?

Trump is still trying to make his own reality—framing the coronavirus as the “China virus” and putting into question the official statistics on the coronavirus. Will this work?  We will see.

Below I detail the most relevant data from this week, as I see it.

  1. The facts. The United States has the dubious distinction of being the coronavirus champion—both in confirmed cases as well as deaths.  See the data below. These are the facts as we know them.  But are they? Coronavirus cases and deaths US


  2. Alternative facts. What did Mark Twain say? “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Data can be manipulated, or rather reframed, easily.  A chunk of Americans—mostly Republicans— believe that the official statistics on the coronavirus are overstated.  This delusion has only grown over the course of the pandemic. Again, Trump’s handiwork is all over this—an attempt to bend space-time.  So, what is the method to Trump's madness? To convince enough people that the situation is bad, but not so bad that you shouldn’t vote for him. Partisan differences in belief about coronavirus


  3. Only Republicans being schooled in September? One more proof point that America only sees the downside in going back to school.  In our most recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, 55% of people are opposed to going back to the school in the fall.  But there is a 57-point gap between Republicans and Democrats! Dems oppose it; Republicans don’t—the politics of schooling. Politics of schools


  4. The poll as a random draw. One way to handicap elections is to think of each poll as a random draw from a hat or as a single clinical trial.  We then can think of them in aggregate as a frequency, or probability, of a given candidate’s chances.  I know, seems fishy. Let’s suspend disbelief a bit—we analyzed 49 polls conducted over the past three weeks at the national level and in four key swing states. And 96% of them have Biden in the lead.   Really bad news for Trump.  We are still three and a half months out; things can change.  But the drumbeat begins. Biden leads


  5. Undecideds for Biden. In any given horse race poll, about 20-25% of potential voters are undecided on their presidential choice.  Many of these people won’t end up voting.  But this said, undecideds seem to lean strongly towards Biden right now.  One more piece of evidence that Trump is in a difficult place. We will see. Undecideds for Biden


For a summary of the above, see my most recent POTUS Morning Briefing interview with Tim Farley.  And as always, be safe and be sane.

For more information, please contact:

Clifford Young
President, U.S.
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2016
[email protected]


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The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs