COVID-19 has left the Presidential Election up in the air, with many having now written off Trump’s chances of a 2nd term.
Trump may have hoped for a 2nd term and, as some put it, a political dynasty to extend beyond his watch.
We can expect the debate to last longer than Trump’s political career. The big question mark will be whether Trump would have won a 2nd term had the U.S not succumbed to COVID-19.
It wasn’t just COVID-19 that has left Trump trailing in the polls, however.
Civil unrest and the administration’s foreign policy are just two examples of how Trump isolated and disjointed the U.S.
With Canada, China, Mexico, the EU, and even the UK falling foul of U.S foreign policy, many will be hoping of a Trump defeat.
We’re 3-months away from the 3rd November and there’s a lot that has to change for Trump to claw back his way into contention.
The Latest Polls
So, according to the latest FT’s interactive Calculator and polling data, which are as at 29th July 2020, there has been a shift in the numbers.
The FT has Democratic challenger Biden with 308 Electoral College votes, which remains unchanged from 22nd July.
In fact, Biden has held onto the 308 since falling back from 318 as at the end of June.
It’s been a different story for the U.S President, however.
The latest numbers show Trump with 128 Electoral College votes, which is down from 132 as at 22nd July.
Looking more closely at the numbers, there is some cause for optimism for the blues.
Joe Biden has seen the number of solid votes rise from 188 to 190, with leaning votes falling by 2 to 118.
For U.S President Trump, his projected Electoral College vote count has fallen from 132 to 128.
Leaning votes stand at 51, with solid votes at 77. That’s quite a shift from 22nd July. Leaning votes and solid votes had stood at 17 and 115 respectively just over a week ago.
Also positive for Biden is the rise in the number of toss-up votes, which have increased from 98 to 102.
If we look at the key U.S states that tend to be election barometers:
Missouri continues to lean in favor of Trump and the Republicans, with Kansas City now also leaning in Trump’s favor. A week ago, Kansas City had been a solid Republican state. Sending in Federal agents looks to have caused the shift.
For Biden, Illinois, New Mexico, and Oregon are solid blues, with Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania also blue.
The Road Ahead
With the first of 3 Presidential Election debates not due until 29th September, that may favor the U.S President.
Trump and the administration have just under 2-months to prepare to defend the Administration.
U.S equities have held their ground, largely thanks to the FED. By contrast, however, the economy is in a shambles, with unemployment sky-high.
The latest U.S COVID stimulus package also doesn’t like it’s going to do the trick and support the unemployed. A sizeable cut in unemployment benefit is not only going to rile voters but also weigh on consumer spending.
That’s a double negative for a U.S President that had promised to reunite the Republican Party and make America great again.
As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to hit the U.S economy further, Republicans have also begun to distance themselves from the President.
The failure to deliver a swift stimulus package to the House was a reflection of the party’s recent fragmentation.
Trump needs a united party front and a widely available vaccine to shift the polls in his favor.
If the latest news on the vaccine is anything to go by, a vaccine may not be available until mid-2021.
That means one full winter season, where the U.S could even succumb to a 3rd wave of the pandemic. Such an outcome would almost certainly be curtains for the U.S President.
Not even a postponement of the U.S Election would save Trump.
The Glimmer of Hope
For the die-hard Republicans, there may be a glimmer of hope, however…
Republicans have a tendency to be more loyal than Democrats. You don’t have to go too far back in history to see examples of Democrats flipping at the last minute.
Hillary Clinton was set for a comfortable win back in 2016.
Then consider Trump’s in-party support that remains exceptionally high compared to other Presidential candidates going for a 2nd term. This is the case even with the latest news of some turning their back on their leader.
When you then factor in Trump’s sheer desire to win at all costs, some may still give him a reasonable chance to swing the polls in his favor.
One last thing to consider is the COVID-19 pandemic and what actual impact it will have on Election Day.
Trump may quietly be hoping for the pandemic to remain a concern on Election Day. With Republicans considered to be more loyal, they are more likely to vote at any cost.
A low turnout on Election Day must therefore also favor Trump and a 2nd term.
All in all, it makes for an interesting few months ahead.
Assuming that China, Russia, and other anti-Trump nations don’t rig the elections, it’s still anyone’s race.