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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Trump backs off push to federalize forces against riots

Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

A day after threatening to federalize forces to snuff out riots across the country, the president appears to be backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Aides say he hasn’t ruled out its use at some point, but that he's “pleased” with the way protests were handled last night (apart from in New York City, as he indicated on Twitter today) — and that for now he's satisfied with leaving the crackdown to states through local law enforcement and the National Guard.