Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been ‘terrible’ — but here are 3 reasons why he might win reelection anyway: conservative

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been ‘terrible’ — but here are 3 reasons why he might win reelection anyway: conservative
Official White House Photo D. Myles Cullen

Many Never Trump conservatives have been delighted over former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent surge in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, from the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to just about anyone who writes for The Bulwark — including the site’s co-founder Bill Kristol, formerly of the now defunct Weekly Standard. Kristol and his colleagues have made it clear that they would much rather see Biden receive the nomination than Sen. Bernie Sanders — and would much rather see Biden in the White House in 2021 than President Donald Trump. Yet Kristol, in a March 19 listicle, offers three reasons why Trump — despite his abysmal handling of the coronavirus pandemic — might win reelection in November.

“Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic has confirmed for many of us — re-confirmed, for the umpteenth time — that Donald Trump does not deserve a second term,” Kristol asserts. “The country deserves competent and responsible leadership, and so, for the country’s sake, Trump should lose in November. He probably will lose. But this is by no means inevitable. So we can’t be complacent.”

Kristol goes on to list three reasons why Trump might win a second term. The first is “incumbency.”

“Incumbents usually win,” Kristol explains. “The last three incumbents have. It’s been a generation since an incumbent president was defeated — and President George H. W. Bush’s campaign was, in effect, an attempt to win a fourth term for Reagan-Bush, which would have been tough anyway.”

The second of the three, according to Kristol, is “hyper-partisanship.”

“Over the last 20 years, neither party has won less than 45.7% of the vote in a presidential election,” Kristol observes. “This means Trump begins with a high enough baseline that, if he adds just a few percentage points, he can win. Those extra points could be due to a lucky break that changes the dynamic of the race at the last minute. Or to a real-world event. Or an October surprise engineered by a foreign power.”

The third and final reason Kristol offers in his listicle is what he describes as “the rally-’round the-flag effect.”

“In a crisis,” the conservative journalist notes, “Americans have a pronounced tendency to rally to the incumbent president. This often happens even if the crisis is partly the president’s fault or he hasn’t handled it particularly well.”

Kristol asserts that Trump’s “terrible” handling of coronavirus won’t necessarily doom his chance to win a second term; some Americans, shaken by the horrors of coronavirus, might rally around him simply because he’s the president rather than taking a chance on the Democratic nominee.

“Most people I’ve spoken with figure that his terrible handling of the pandemic, plus the now-inevitable recession, have doomed Trump,” the conservative journalist explains. “But look at Trump’s numbers now. His job approval is barely down at all. His poll numbers are still pretty much where they were three months ago, when the virus was still officially confined to China and the U.S. economy was, at least superficially, strong.”

Kristol concludes his piece by stressing that no matter how badly Trump bungled the coronavirus nightmare, Democrats can take nothing for granted going into November.

“We can’t count on events defeating Trump,” Kristol writes. “He needs to be defeated by voters who understand why he deserves to lose. God knows, he does. But as John F. Kennedy reminded us, here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”


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