South Asian Insider
Opinion and Editorial
Covid-19, and Washington’s handling of it, will determine the poll outcome
At present, the bulk of American victims is concentrated in the North-east and Pacific coastal states and is disproportionately from ethnic minorities. These are all Democratic strongholds. Trump’s real test will be when the virus begins to take a toll in the south and midwest regions and moves beyond large cities-striking at his still-loyal voter base.
With Bernie Sanders announcing the end of his bid to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, the United States (US) President Donald Trump now knows he will be facing Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election. The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) may be the third candidate in the race.
The US election is not until November and seven months is an eternity in politics. Mr Trump was never assured of re-election. The US electoral college system means victory or defeat will be determined by less than 10 states. The crisis initially increased the President’s approval ratings, a rally-around-the-flag effect experienced by most world leaders when the crisis hit their respective countries. But such surges are sustainable only if they are backed by credible governance and strong leadership. Both these are lacking in Mr Trump’s slow and haphazard response to Covid-19.
The viral variable in all of this is that the infections are still spreading. At present, the bulk of American victims is concentrated in the North-east and Pacific coastal states and is disproportionately from ethnic minorities. These are all Democratic strongholds. Mr Trump’s real test will be when the virus begins to take a toll in the south, and midwest regions and moves beyond large cities — striking at his still-loyal voter base. This would explain the Trump administration’s obsession with quick and scientifically questionable fixes, as well as his attacks on China and the World Health Organization. It would also explain the Republican Party’s use of voter suppression tactics such as questioning the validity of mail ballots. Infections in the US are not expected to peak for a few more weeks. The medical and economic aftermath may be the real determiner of who will be the next US president.
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