Apr 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's coronavirus slump

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Pool/Getty Images

President Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis has produced a political emergency for the White House, with a raft of signs suddenly pointing to possible big trouble when he faces re-election six months from now.

The state of play: His favorability rating, mostly stable throughout his presidency, has ticked down in Gallup to 43%, from 49% on March 22 — and a furious Trump blew up at his campaign team last week, snapping at campaign manager Brad Parscale: "I am not f---ing losing to Joe Biden," AP reported.

  • The backdrop was a series of swing-state polls showing real trouble for Trump, and a string of polls showing older voters — a bedrock group for the president — drifting to Biden.
  • Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a Trump loyalist who's up for re-election, said during an off-the-record conference call this week, according to CNN: "The state of Georgia is in play" — a jarring read on a traditionally red state where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by five points.
  • Trump led in Florida polls in March but is now modestly behind Biden, per the Tampa Times.

A senior White House official, reflecting the view of many in Trump's orbit, told Axios: "I think you can take a snapshot of the first of May, and it’ll be incredibly different than the first of November."

  • "The likelihood you’ll have several months of job growth and a better economy in November is a real thing."

Behind the scenes: Trump administration officials privately tell Axios' Alayna Treene and Margaret Talev that the virus has made them more worried about the election than they’ve ever been.

  • Trump had been riding a strong economy his entire time in office. Now, the Nov. 3 outcome could well depend on whether he's able to conjure signs of recovery out of this calamity, with 26.5 million jobs lost in five weeks.

Between the lines: All this comes amid yet more West Wing turnover, with aides divided about how to respond.

  • And the Trump playbook — punch back, blame someone else — has been off-key in this moment.
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