Politics can’t stay out of pandemic response—it’s driving what we do. Red states and blue states are reacting differently depending on how much virus they’re seeing. (Not unreasonable so long as they’re ready to be nimble, more below.)
This morning, Prince Charles has the virus and the Congress has a deal that includes prohibition on Trump enriching himself.
Josh Kraushaar/National Journal:
A 'wartime president’s' premature surrender
President Trump wants to quickly restart the economy against the advice of his public-health experts. It’s a reckless move that would hurt his chances for reelection.
In truth, the debate between the economy and public health is a false choice. There’s no way for the economy to recover in the middle of a pandemic. Without taking steps to “bend the curve”—social distancing to prevent the virus from rapidly spreading and buying time for hospitals to obtain life-saving supplies—it’s unreasonable to expect the economy to get back to anything close to normal.
Here’s a map of coronavirus by state based on response. [At my request, red and blue states are marked according to their Governor’s party.]
Match that with state listings of virus counts. It’s reasonable to have less response with less virus, but those states need to turn things up as soon as testing shows that virus levels are rising.
However, the guiding principle for the WH is reelection, not public health. And Trump’s got as many problems there as he does with a pandemic and a recession.
Dave A Hopkins/Honest Graft:
Four Reasons to Be Cautious About Trump's Approval Ratings
But realistically, it's far too soon to glean much about either the American public's ultimate response to Trump's management of the pandemic or its implications for the upcoming election. Here are four good reasons to exercise some patience before jumping to conclusions:
1. Political leaders' popularity often rises temporarily after the onset of a crisis. Political scientists call this pattern the "rally effect," and it's been documented many times over decades of history; most dramatically, George W. Bush's job approval shot up from about 50 percent to about 90 percent virtually overnight after the events of September 11, 2001. There are several plausible factors contributing to this phenomenon: citizens close psychological ranks around their national leaders in a moment of uncertainty and fear; they evaluate these figures on different criteria than they did before the crisis erupted; and the normally critical opposition party (sometimes) mutes its attacks on the incumbent. Both French president Emmanuel Macron and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte have enjoyed spikes in popularity during the current coronavirus outbreak, despite (especially in Italy's case) substantial national dislocation and tragedy.
But these popularity bumps fade with time. Either the crisis is soon resolved and citizens turn their attention to other things, or it is not, in which case they start to grow impatient with the effectiveness of their leader. The 2020 general election is still far enough away that even if Trump were to benefit from the rally effect in the short term, it wouldn't be a very reliable signal of his popularity more than seven months in the future.
Aaron Carroll and Ashish Jha/Atlantic:
Don’t Halt Social Distancing. Instead, Do It Right.
There are two things the United States must do to beat the coronavirus.
We can’t win the fight against COVID-19 just by wishing the virus away. Instead, we need to take two crucial steps. First, we need a true national pause, not the sporadic halts we’ve seen so far. And then, we need to follow it with massive, coordinated testing across the population.
Over the past week, more and more of the country has started committing to significant physical-distancing measures. Unfortunately, much of the country still has not done so. Spring-break revelers are still on the beaches, and all those partiers will be headed back home, potentially seeding tens of thousands of new infections across the whole country. Some states still haven’t closed schools, potentially allowing for asymptomatic spread through their communities. We still aren’t taking this virus seriously enough.
Americans’ Revulsion for Trump Is Underappreciated
As Democrats fret about their own prospects, many fail to recognize the president’s fundamental weakness.
But these nuggets of conventional political wisdom obscure something fundamental—something that even Democrats have trouble seeing: The United States is in revolt against Donald Trump, and the likely Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, already holds a daunting lead over Trump in the battleground states that will decide the 2020 election. By way of disclosure, I am a Democratic pollster; for professional and personal reasons alike, I want Democratic candidates to succeed. But no matter what, I also want candidates and party operatives to base decisions—such as where and how to campaign—on an accurate view of the political landscape. At the moment, Democrats are underestimating their own strength and misperceiving the sources of it.
A Post-Democratic Primary Update to the Bitecofer Model
If Trump had political capital to spend heading into this crisis, that would be one thing. But after the Russia investigation was followed in short order by the Ukraine scandal, Trump’s political capital tank is already on empty, with few Americans outside of Republicans capable of trusting him. Trump will be heading into the fall with the dubious distinction of being the most embattled, controversial, and scandal-plagued president to seek reelection in the history of the republic — and that was before this virus emerged to create a massive public health disaster and destroy his strongest claim for reelection: the economy.
But Donald Trump does have one formidable asset to help his reelection prospects: political polarization and hyperpartisanship, which even in the face of a recession and potential fallout from COVID19 management will likely provide him with a steady and reliable base of support, preventing the type of erosion in approval ratings we saw in the second term of George W. Bush’s tenure…
But even without a big assist from the looming recession, by avoiding a Sanders nomination, and with it, total party meltdown, Democrats are well-positioned for the fall general election. The changes to my original ratings from July 2019 reflect this reality and are universally positive for Democrats. When the original forecast was released, I said that the party’s nominee did not matter at all unless the nominee ended up being Bernie Sanders, and the reason that a Sanders nomination mattered was that it would be “disruptive.”