Donald Trump did not want too much talk about the pandemic during the campaign. Unfolding the issue while the contagions were visibly growing could give a wide audience to those who question his handling of the crisis. His dream is for the vaccine to emerge in the weeks leading up to the vote. It would have boosted his chances of being elected. Fortune, however, has not favored him, it has been perverse. The vaccine is delayed until it is not known when and the virus plays a trick on him by spreading it. Not only does he bring the problem to all the headlines and newscasts, but many Americans, even quite a few of his supporters, come to the conclusion that the president has been tainted by his daring behavior in recent months, mixing in rallies with the public, organize a reckless act 15 days ago in the gardens of the White House to present his candidate for Supreme Court justice, not regularly wearing the mask, etc. In short, he would be better off if he had taken the problem seriously. The issue to avoid has become ominously protagonist.
We do not know if the contagion will be his funeral responsibility as president. Trump has escaped from the hospital for a while to show that he is still in command and that he is brave (daring for some) and some media, not all, have lowered the intensity of their criticism out of respect for a politician attacked by a disease especially harmful to the people his age. However, the polls, which continue to be overwhelmingly favorable to the triumph of Joe Biden, as the New York Times crushes, do not seem to have changed with the knowledge of the contagion. Possible sympathy for the person affected has been countered by the perception that the White House is clumsily or tendentiously handling information about the president’s health. The doctor spoke of a hopeful situation and that he would soon be discharged, although Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, said there were disturbing moments and even leaked that he had respiratory problems. The New Yorker concludes that it is early to predict the effect of Trump’s positive in the elections and adds that the times have passed when leaders could hide their defective health on the eve of elections, as did the two presidents, respectively victors of the two wars Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and then, to some extent, John Kennedy.
The downcast Trump has expressed his intention to attend the remaining debates (in the first one he failed to overwhelm Joe Biden) and close an important issue with which his entire party agrees: the confirmation for a place in the Supreme Court of the brilliant and conservative Justice Amy Coney Barret. If the examination by the Senate (in which there is a Republican majority) is held before the vote, the young magistrate will be confirmed and the Supreme Court, transcendental in the life of the United States, will have a broad conservative majority for five years (the magistrates are for life). It is not ruled out that a couple of Republican senators join the Democrats in asking for the postponement until after the elections, but even so, the House would bless, by a scraped majority, the candidate if the pandemic respects the Republican senators (now there are two sick) and Democrats. For the former, even the president’s most enthusiastic supporters, that would be his greatest and best legacy: a Supreme Court, although there are frequent surprises in him, close to the party’s ideology.
The virus as such is not the main concern of the Yankees. Trump’s favorite topic, the economy, which in March could have granted him reelection with 3.1% unemployment, is the main cause of voter unease. This is stated in a Gallup poll by 89% of those questioned, compared to 77% who are concerned about the covid and 57% about climate change. At the bottom of the concerns (16%) are relations with China and Russia.
In the long term, historians and analysts will ruminate if the worsening of the pandemic, by affecting the economy, truncated Trump’s chances and if he should have initially taken unpopular drastic containment measures. That is to say, if you made the wrong strategy and misjudged the times. Great unknown, seen what has been seen here and there. In the short term, nobody is betting on the result. The turnaround of 2016, when Trump surprised Hillary Clinton, is still feared by many Democrats. Also short, and given Trump’s hatred of voting by mail (39% may choose that modality on this occasion), it is doubtful that at dawn on the 3rd we will know the results and even that the Trump maneuver will accept them.
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