Desperation—you can smell it in the air. Trump’s numbers are dismal. Pick just one or take them in toto. They all tell a dark story—lackluster approval ratings, Biden leading the horse race, negative GDP growth, surge in coronavirus deaths, unemployment claims on the rise again. It is hard to find even one glimmer of hope here. Nothing good for an incumbent in an election year.
Trump is scrambling for higher ground. Federal police in big cities to combat liberalism gone wild is one way to deflect from larger crises. From this vantage point, Trump—the avenger—can bring down the "law and order" boom on the anarchists and ominous "others." Will it work? Seems too little, too chaotic, too late. But we will see.
Yesterday, Trump floated the idea of postponing the November election. Maybe, he says, it should be delayed. Of course, the public response was near universal opposition to such an un-democratic thought.
We are in for a wild ride. Buckle up. There are still 94 long days to go until November 3rd.
Below I detail what I think are the most important polling data points of the week.
- Illiberalism at the gates. Only 23% of Americans would support Trump if he lost the election but refused to accept the results as legitimate. But a strong plurality (45%) of Republicans do! And even more (74%) are concerned about mail-in vote fraud. There might be method to Trump’s madness. Confusion—whatever form it takes—helps him. Trump has planted seeds for future misdirection.
- Our Hobbesian nightmare. For Hobbes, government exists to bring order to the world’s chaos. We all look to government in times of existential crisis. This is one of those times. But look around. Government—both state and federal—is failing us. And with it, the surging pandemic is erasing our belief that government has a solution. Look at the data. Incumbents beware.
- Trump’s funk. The president’s approval numbers are stuck at 38% in our most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. He has been hovering below 40-points for better than a month. Remember my old adage—a sitting president with approval rating below 40% has less than a 50/50 chance to win the next election. Trump has even lost some ground with Republicans—with his approval numbers falling from around 90% to 81% among GOP registered voters. Trump is flailing.
- Again, a tale of our two Americas. COVID-19 did not unify us—instead it has shown in ugly, raw form how divided we truly are as a nation. Take, for instance, the unprecedented use of federal police forces in Portland, Chicago and New York. Look at our most recent ABC News/Ipsos poll—the huge chasm between Republicans and Democrats! We live in different—barely mutually intelligible—worlds. Trump intuits this; this is his sixth sense.
- Social bubbling and risk mitigation. Americans—independent of their political stripes—are worried about our COVID-19 reality. They are mitigating this risk in myriad ways—social bubbling is one of them. We only venture and engage with those we trust. However, are we just re-creating existing inequities and social divisions? The tale of two of Americas? As I told Axios, “It’s an indicator of how we’ve adjusted our lives. It’s reinforcing our networks, it’s reinforcing those who are proximate to us.” Our world is different; maybe forever.
All, we live in trying times with heightened uncertainty. Please be safe.
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