Three polls and a few statistics could explain an explosive week in Washington in which the President Donald trump He returned to be the protagonist in the midst of the serious crisis that has been causing the coronavirus in this country and that they make it clear that their ultimate goal seems to be electoral.
The first poll is the most recent sample of Gallup confirming that his popularity is in free fall. According to this, the approval of the president fell six percentage points in these last two weeks. From 49 percent, the highest peak in his entire presidency (mid-March), to 43.
This is, according to Gallup, the sharpest decline on record Trump in the three years he has been in the White House. And, in large part, it is due to a decrease in support among the ‘independents’, which now stands at 39 percent.
The same survey reveals that there is an impressive drop in the level of satisfaction of the American public with the current state of affairs. A number that is generally tied to the performance of the president.
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According to Gallup, only 35 percent of the country is pleased with the direction of the situation, a difference of 12 points compared to the same thought in early March (47 percent).
Among Republicans themselves, that drop is 17 points (60 percent satisfied), and 14 among independents (24 percent). According to the firm, Those levels of dissatisfaction have only been recorded on two other occasions in the last 20 years: in 2008, after the outbreak of the financial crisis, and in 2016 after a series of shootings in the country that left dozens of dead.
According to Gallup, both measurements are tied to a public perception that has turned negative in the face of Trump’s handling of the crisis and it coincides with a series of reports according to which the president minimized the threat of the disease and acted slowly to stop its spread. Gallup states in this regard:
The current economic and health crisis is undoubtedly the biggest challenge for his presidency and could threaten his chances of reelection.
Trump, of course, has it very much in mind. And that is already being seen in the polls where it is compared to Joe Biden, the candidate that the Democrats have chosen to face him in the presidential elections in November.
According to the most recent poll by The Economist and Yougov, Former Vice President Biden scores 5 points for Trump (48 vs. 43). This is a difference that has remained constant in the last four months and that does not favor the president either.
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Election Center states that no President in recent history, he has been re-elected with popularity figures below 46 percent in the months leading up to the elections.
To these polls were also added this week a series of unflattering figures that somehow fall on Trump, even if he does not have direct responsibility.
Among them those of unemployment, that this week reached levels never seen before since the Great Depression of 1930. More than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs, which means that all the charges that had been created since the 2008 recession have already evaporated.
Analysts predict that while a partial recovery is possible between now and the elections, the economy It won’t be back to a good time before 2022.
Bad news for Trump because the economic figures, which during these three years saw improvements, were his main weapon of combat in the electoral campaign.
But it wasn’t just that. Although the President has been saying that the pandemic has already stabilized in the United States, This week the death and contagion numbers shot up again. So much so, that the authorities had to run the so-called “peak day” for the US. USA, supposedly scheduled for April 10.
The death toll, in fact, was approaching 40,000 this weekend in just a month and a half (the same number of fatalities from USA UU. in the Korean War, 1950-1953) and spread to almost 800,000.
Only in this last week, the coronavirus, for the first time, killed more people in the country than cancer and heart disease, so far the two evils that caused more deaths.
Perhaps the only good news was the one a lab in the US gave on Friday. USA according to which the antiviral medicine Remdesivir would be giving results in the treatment of the disease. But it is only a small study with 125 people and in any case it is not the required vaccine.
According to Max Boot, a columnist for The Washington Post, Trump is cornered by this deluge of events that are sinking his presidency. And so he has chosen to look for other perpetrators to redistribute the blame. And he usually throws “news bombs” with which he tries to divert attention.
Among them his threat to suspend Congress, suspension of aid to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the controversy that it unleashed when it said that it had “absolute power” over all the states, who would have to obey its order to reopen the economy as of this May 1st.
All three ended up being shots in the air. In the case of Congress, not even Republicans went along with it Well, if they allowed it, they would be giving the Executive a power that it has never had. Its “unlimited” authority vis-à-vis the states was turned into a series of recommendations that the White House presented on Thursday that are not mandatory.
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As for the WHO, this is a suspension of two or three months while investigating whether the agency has been trying to protect China, the country where the coronavirus arose. But it is not clear how much money it is, since EE. USA it has already provided WHO with most of the resources planned for this year.
But all three helped him to temporarily deflect news coverage about handling the coronavirus. In the case of the WHO and China, Trump would have found a perfect scapegoat to try to stop the accusations against him.. So thinks Michael Green, a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush on Asian issues.
Polls, according to Green, are showing that the US public. USA He does not trust the explanations that Beijing has given about the emergence of the coronavirus. And it underscores a recent Harris Poll report that 90 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats believe that China is to blame for the spread and, consequently, the WHO is a facilitator.
Support for protests
Although there is some consensus among the US intelligence agencies. USA On manipulating the information that is leaving that country to minimize his role, for Trump it is a narrative that allows him to muddy the accusations against him. And they are associated not so much with what he did or did not do China, but to the weeks spent underestimating the problem and the scarcity, even today, of tests to diagnose the disease.
This Friday, the president further politicized the debate by going out to support protests that have erupted in three states by people who oppose the social distancing measures that governors have ordered. The protests, for the most part, have been led by supporters of Trump and the states in question – Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia – currently have Democratic governors and are considered key to the upcoming elections.
“These protests have not been due to social distancing measures, but political events. They appeared without masks, delivering sweets to the children and carrying weapons. They are putting everyone at risk. And that the president endorses them now is quite irresponsible, “said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which sounds like Biden’s likely vice presidential formula.
Trump, Boot says, “is hell-bent on looking for those responsible: China, the media, the governors, the WHO, Obama, the Democrats. Anyone but his golf caddy. His mantra is “I have no responsibility for anything.” What remains to be seen is whether voters end up swallowing their excuses.
At the moment, at least from what the polls say, a majority is inclined to not. But from here to the elections there is still a lot of fabric to cut.
SERGIO GÓMEZ MASERI
EL TIEMPO correspondent