Podcast | Race to the White House: Trump campaign check-in

V Nivedita | Updated on July 03, 2020 Published on July 03, 2020

This week, we analyse US President Donald Trump's re-election campaign

US President Donald Trump is trailing Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by 12 points in a new Monmouth University poll. Add the rising coronavirus cases in the nation and the Russiagate 2.0 to the list of Trump’s worries. So, is all over for Team Trump? Here’s a check in.

I am Nivedita Varadarajan, and welcome to an all-new episode of the Race to the White House. Today, we analyse the Trump’s strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that lie ahead. So, let’s dive in.

Let’s face it: Trump has not fulfilled his election promises – he hasn’t really ‘drained the swamp’, or build a border wall or curtail corruption. Also, Trump’s inability to improve the lives of the people is coming to bite him. A Bankrate survey published on June 15 found that 29% of Americans say that their finances have worsened since Trump took office and 45% say they have stayed the same.  Only 17% of say they have improved.

But, the big opportunity for Trump is that he is the President – he is in charge. The election in November is a vote on his performance, so if he performs now, he can win. It is up to him to address issues of the public fast and effectively.  There are many issues for him to tackle night now: the most important one is the issue of evictions. An analysis a tech company UrbanFootprint shows that nearly 6.7 million rent-burdened households could face eviction once enhanced federal unemployment insurance expires at the end of July and eviction bans across the country are lifted.  California, New York, Florida, Georgia and Texas top the list. If Trump could push the Republican party to pass legislations to support bans on evictions, it would do him a world of good.

Going forward, he must push the Republican party to focus on rebuilding the economy and pushing to spend money on infrastructure. But, some of them seem to be interested in petty issues. The Hill reports that the Republicans are arguing if Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, should replace Columbus Day on the federal government’s list of official holidays. Sen. Ron Johnson estimates a single federal holiday costs the government about $600 million in paid time off for federal employees.

But there are still many threats looming around the corner. The Washington Post reports that there were 55,220 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. Florida and Texas, which Trump won in 2016, are now seeing a surge in cases. But, there seems to be no urgent measures taken to control the spead of the deadly virus.

Trump is also losing the support of fellow Republicans. Last week, I told you ‘Never Trump’ Republicans are crossing the aisle and are actively campaigning for Biden. One such group is the Lincoln Project. This group has spent a lot of money to campaign against Trump. At first, they released attack ads against Trump, and now, they are releasing ads showing the contrast between Trump and Biden. It is also important to here that Trump’s campaign, which is known for its vicious attacks on opponents, hasn’t been too active. Even his social media campaign has not picked up yet.

A new controversy could potentially derail Trump’s campaign. There have been several reports that Russia paid Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. The reports say that the government knew about it and didn’t do anything to stop them. This is the “Russiagate 2.0”.

And finally, Trump still has one big strength. In a recent Times/Siena poll, a majority of Americans approved of Trump’s handling of the economy, 50%–45%. In Florida, Trump had a four-point edge on the economy, according to a Fox News poll released last week. In North Carolina, Georgia and Texas, where Biden is leading overall, Trump is doing well in this category. In a report, Forbes says that one reason for the same: voters don’t blame Trump for the economic slowdown. They blame COVID-19.

So, what’s my take?

Polls show that Biden’s lead over Trump is grown steadily, and Biden isn’t really doing much to warrant the big wave in his favour. To win, Trump has to leverage his only strength right now to pull independents and those who voted for him in 2016 thinking he will bring in change. He has to reach out and convince voters that he is the man to revive the economy.   He has to convince he average voter that he can do better than Biden. He has the power to fundamentally change the lives of the American people, now he must do it.

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Published on July 03, 2020