Opinion | Coronavirus erodes Trump’s re-election chances

By Dennis Austin, Columnist

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been rightly lambasted for their weak, soft and erroneous response to the COVID-19 outbreak that has seen our country shut down. In a wild, out of control performance at the White House’s April 13 press conference, Trump battled reporters, calling them “fake” among displaying other childlike behaviors.

However, what seems to be stirring in his madness is the realization that his time in the White House depends upon his response to the coronavirus and the economy. Now, according to the latest poll by SSRS/CNN, 48% of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the economy, down six points from March. 

What becomes worrisome is that 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment. According to a Washington Post article, 12-13% of the country is unemployed, registering the highest number of unemployed Americans since the Great Depression. Not to mention the bi-polar activity on the stock market. Even as Congress pushed through a two trillion-dollar relief package aimed at vacillating anxieties faced by workers and small businesses, we still find ourselves at the cliff, if not an outright dive, into economic free-fall. 

The consequences of this economic decline conjure up memories of the Great Recession from over a decade ago. As mayors and governors across the country scramble for medical supplies, the president desperately seeks to control the narrative on his leadership during this pandemic. 

Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race and immediately endorsed his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in a joint video conference. Shortly thereafter, former President Barack Obama threw his weight behind the former VP. It can be noted that this sudden call for unity is a strategy to avoid the deep divisions that plagued Hillary Clinton’s campaign four years ago, with the foremost goal of defeating Donald Trump at the forefront. 

With the former vice president settling himself as the alternative, he is riding on his experience as the one best equipped and trained to deal with the challenges we currently face and to oversee our long-term economy. Contrast that with an out of control Commander-in-Chief who lashes out on Twitter, and it’s not hard to see which candidate might stand out as more attractive than the other. 

For Joe Biden, this is prime real estate, and with Bernie Sanders seemingly at lockstep on unity, the Democrats are eagerly looking to exploit the glaring weaknesses displayed by the current White House. A potential advantage for Donald Trump rests solely on what this nation will look like a few months from now. 

In a scenario where the virus has slowed down and the nation has returned to work, recovering from temporary economic losses, it’s hard to imagine where the Democrats can use this against him. Perhaps his ranting and raving, but he passed that test already.

In 2016, CNN Exit Polls showed that 63% of voters found that the economy was in poor condition. Couple that with 49% of voters preferring Donald Trump as the best option to deal with the economy, things were clear. If things do progress, I can’t see him bowing farewell in January 2021. Buoyed by his stark rhetoric on China, trade and jobs, Donald Trump secured a modern-day political upset. 

Four years later as things look bleak with his chances of re-election currently seeming slimmer by the day, Donald Trump is staring into a political reality that has victimized two of his predecessors in the past forty years: Being a one-term president. If by the summer and fall we continue to wrestle this invincible and deadly virus with an economy in free-fall, Nov. 3 might just be Joe Biden’s night.  

Dennis is a junior in LAS.

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