‘Down in the dumps': There's a dark cloud hanging over Trump and the GOP

‘Down in the dumps': There's a dark cloud hanging over Trump and the GOP
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, joined by President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force, addresses his remarks during the coronavirus update briefing Monday, April 13, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo D. Myles Cullen)

Countless polls have shown President Donald Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, often by double digits. At the same time, many of the polls reflect a pessimistic mood among U.S. voters as the country continues to be battered by the coronavirus pandemic and double-digit unemployment — a plausible reason for an incumbent performing poorly in his re-election.

Conservative journalist Jennifer Rubin pointed to that mood of pessimism in her Washington Post column, arguing that Trump is badly out of touch with U.S. voters.

In the column — which is headlined “Voters, Even Republicans, Are Down in the Dumps” — Rubin notes that Trump showed how out of touch he is when, on Wednesday, he told Fox Business, “I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think at some point, that’s going to, sort of, just disappear, I hope.”

Rubin’s response to that statement: “More than 2.5 million Americans who have been infected with the virus and the tens of thousands diagnosed each day beg to differ. Trump has resorted to the sort of self-delusion that prevented swift action back in January and kept him from responding with the full force of the federal government. But just because Trump is entirely out of touch does not mean the country is.”

Rubin points to a recent Morning Consult/Politico poll, noting that three out of four U.S. voters surveyed in late June believe the country is on the wrong track.

“Voters do not engage in fantastical thinking as Trump does: 47% say he is doing a ‘poor’ job, up 10 points since April,” Rubin observes. “The percentage of those who approve of his handling of the crisis is falling, now at 38%. The percentage of those who disapprove is rising, now at 56%. Maybe the virus’ resurgence in red states has brought Republicans to their senses.”

According to Rubin, “Trump is not even pleasing a significant share of Republicans, who have learned personally how serious the spreading pandemic is and how essential federal action is to address it.”

Pew Research similarly found that dissatisfaction is rampant in the United States:

With less than five months until the 2020 elections, Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted from 31% in April, during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, to just 12% today.

Anger and fear are widespread. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans say they feel both sentiments when thinking about the country, though these feelings are more prevalent among Democrats. And just 17% of Americans – including 25% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 10% of Democrats and Democratic leaners – say they feel proud when thinking about the state of the country.

A mood of pessimism is also asserting itself in Trump’s administration and among GOP politicians and activists, journalist Gabriel Sherman reports in Vanity Fair. According to Sherman, Republicans who have spoken to Trump in recent days are saying that the president is feeling “down in the dumps.” A GOP source described by Sherman as someone “close to the White House” told Vanity Fair, “People around (Trump) think his heart’s not in it” — and that source said that last week, Trump called Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and asked him, “What do I do? What do I do?”

Sherman also reports that Republicans are seriously worried that Trump will cause them to lose their majority in the U.S. Senate in November. For example, polls are showing incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa to be among the vulnerable Republicans seeking reelection. A GOP source told Vanity Fair, “Joni’s campaign is pissed. They should not be in a competitive race.”

Trump is obviously running a rally-the-base campaign rather than making a concerted effort to expand his base. But according to Rubin, that approach isn’t working for the president.

“Voters are understandably upset about the direction of the country,” Rubin emphasizes. “They do not put their hope in the virus simply ‘disappearing.’ They want the government to actually do something about the surging pandemic and mass unemployment, not to mention systemic racism. Like it or not, the buck stops with Trump, whose base seems to be crumbling.”

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