by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
At the center of President Trump’s reelection campaign is a simple message: America is back and ready to turn the page on the coronavirus and its economic fallout.
“Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump declared at a White House event on Friday. This is usually the argument an incumbent president makes during an economic boom or a victory over a great national challenge. Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” reelection theme came after stagflation was whipped and the economy was growing at 6.8%.
Trump is making this argument while the coronavirus still rages, and, as he acknowledged, there is no vaccine. Some 36 million people in the United States are out of work. Trump is appealing to his past economic success, promising that things are going to be better in the near future and that he is the man who can make it happen.
It’s an approach that served Trump well in business, as he battled through bankruptcies and setbacks, but it is a risky reelection strategy. Nevertheless, it could work.
Trump is down but not out. His approval ratings remain steady, ranging from a high of 51% in a recent Hill/Harris poll to a low of 42% in Politico/Morning Consult. Trump is currently tying his previous high of 49% in Gallup and is averaging 46.2% nationally, even with the country facing serious problems. He’s barely behind where Barack Obama was at a similar point in his own reelection race in 2012.
A CNN poll found Trump down 51%-46% to former Vice President Joe Biden nationally but leading him 52%-45% in the battleground states. Trump also edged Joe Biden 50%-46% among independents. Usual caveats about margin of error and sample sizes apply, but these are not terrible numbers amid a pandemic and high unemployment.
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