Sunday, October 04, 2020


Good news:


Biden is leading by 14 in the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (and by 10 in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll), but I don't expect his lead to remain in the double digits. Trump's polling has suffered because of his obnoxious debate performance, as The Wall Street Journal reports:
Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who directed the survey with Democrat Jeff Horwitt, cautioned that the poll was conducted during an unsettled moment after the caustic presidential debate—“a shock to the system,” he called it—and could reflect a temporary reassessment of views. “The public can be taking a moment to say, ‘What did I just see, and how do I feel about it?’” he said....

Asked more broadly about the candidates’ personal qualities, voters by a two-to-one margin said Mr. Biden was better at displaying “the right temperament to be president,” 58% to 26%.

“It is clear that the debate, and Mr. Trump’s behavior during it, reinforced the negative side of Mr. Trump personally for many respondents,” said Mr. Horwitt. He said the president “lost the American people on style more than substance.”
Now, with his COVID-19 diagnosis, Trump is unlikely to have another chance to display the same obnoxious personality before a TV audience in the tens of millions.

Will he get a sympathy bounce from his diagnosis? He isn't getting one so far, according to Reuters:
Most Americans continue to be deeply worried about the virus, and the poll found that 65%, including 9 in 10 registered Democrats and 5 in 10 registered Republicans, agreed that “if President Trump had taken coronavirus more seriously, he probably would not have been infected.”

Only 34% said they thought that Trump has been telling them the truth about the coronavirus, while 55% said that he was not and 11% were unsure.

Of those polled, 57% of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic overall, up about 3 points from a poll that ran late last week.
There are similar results in an ABC News poll, also conducted by Ipsos:
... nearly 3 out of every 4 Americans doubt that he took seriously the threat posed to his well-being nor the steps necessary to avoid contracting the virus, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday.

In two separate questions, an identical 72% said that Trump did not take the "risk of contracting the virus seriously enough," nor "the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health."
But the Trump team is pumping out propaganda intended to show that the president is still strong and vigorous ... and that, instead, makes him seem frail, vulnerable, and chastened.

But that's good for him. If there are still gettable voters, they'll find him a lot harder to dislike than they did on Tuesday night. If, as I suspect, he pulls through, he might be forced by circumstances to end the campaign on a positive note, or at least a non-negative one.

I'm not saying that he'll get close enough to win a reasonably fair election, the way he did four years ago. I'm saying that he might still close the gap to 7 or less -- which could be close enough for him to steal it with the help of Bill Barr, an aggressive "ballot security" operation, and relentless vote suppression in swing states run by Republicans.

The conventional view is that this reminds voters of the pandemic at a time when they might have started to feel less afraid than they did when daily cases peaked in midsummer -- and this at a time when case numbers are rising again in most of the country. That may be the primary electoral effect of this moment.

But every day that Trump isn't putting his insufferable personality on display is a day when voters can lie to themselves convincingly about his fitness for office. There'll be more days like that now. It would have been better for Biden if we'd seen Debate Trump every day from now until November 3.

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