Donald Trump is back at the White House after a scary three-day stay at the Walter Reed medical complex. For the President, that’s the good news.
The bad news: his bout with the coronavirus hasn’t won him any sympathy points from the electorate. In fact, his numbers have only gotten worse. CNN’s latest national survey saw Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden expand his lead to 15 percentage points. If the polling is any indication, Trump is four weeks away from being beaten like a drum a-la Jimmy Carter in 1980.
For Biden, the last nine months have been a wild ride. There was a time not too long ago when the former vice president and three-time presidential candidate was a human seagull with a broken wing, struggling to take off. Bernie Sanders, the white-haired democratic socialist from Vermont and a leader of America’s modern-day progressive movement, looked like a shoo-in after his blowout wins in New Hampshire and Nevada. Then South Carolina happened. Then Super Tuesday happened. And to the surprise of even his closest political advisers, Biden clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in what was the most impressive comeback in modern-day presidential primary history. If Biden was once the wobbly failed also-ran, he is now in such a strong position that he could very well be going to bed at night and dreaming of his upcoming term as the 46th President of the United States.
The Democrats, of course, don’t want to get too cocky or comfortable. The party has been in this place before. This time four years ago, Hillary Clinton boasted a seven-point lead. The New York Times’s election team calculated that Clinton had a 91 per cent chance of being the next President. We all know how that story turned out; by the time election night was over, Clinton phoned Trump to concede the race and Democrats nationwide were bawling their eyes out in grief.
With this recent history in mind, Joe Biden isn’t taking anything for granted. But his team is growing more confident that the dynamics of the race have solidified to the point where Trump won’t have the time to recuperate. This doesn’t mean Biden is being complacent like Hillary was. His campaign is saturating the airwaves in conservative parts of Ohio, a state Trump won four years ago by an eight-point margin. The former vice president will be traveling to Arizona this Thursday in an attempt to persuade suburban voters around Phoenix that another four years of Trump would be a disaster for the country (a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won Arizona in a quarter of a century). Georgia, the reliably red-state, no longer looks as reliable for Republicans— the Biden campaign knows this, which is why they continue to run ads in the state.
And naturally, there’s Florida, the perennial battleground Trump desperately needs in his column. Most election forecasters believe that if Biden wins Florida, he might as well start measuring the drapes in the Oval Office. As Trump was preparing to be discharged from the hospital, his opponent was in the Little Havana neighbourhood of Miami drawing a sharp contrast with Trump's coronavirus strategy. ‘I was glad to see the president speaking and recording videos over the weekend,’ Biden told the crowd yesterday. ‘Now that he’s busy tweeting campaign messages, I would ask him to do this: Listen to the scientists. Support masks.’
Trump obviously didn’t get the memo, because his first act upon stepping onto the White House Portico last evening was to rip off his mask, put it in his pocket, and pose for the cameras in what he hoped to project as a show of strength and confidence. Weeks before the election, however, the President can’t be too confident of staying in his current residence for the next four years.