While it is usually an October surprise that throws political campaigns into panic mode, two game-changing stories about the incumbent president may have impacted his chances considerably.
First, a story by writer Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic printed stories from anonymous sources inside the Trump administration of the president calling those who’ve died in service to their country “losers” and “suckers.” While the anonymous sources remain anonymous, two people present during these reported conversations, former chief of staff Gen. John Kelly and former secretary of defense Gen. Jim Mattis, have not come forward to deny the allegations.
Second, Watergate journalist Bob Woodward released tapes of Donald Trump saying he had always intended to “downplay” COVID-19 even though he knew it was deadly, it was airborne, and it could kill children.
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) September 11, 2020
Following these hits against Trump and his campaign, the Yahoo! News/YouGov poll show that Trump’s minor bump following the Republican National Convention in August, a bump that got him within six points of his challenger, Joe Biden, disappeared and became a ten-point deficit in polling.
According to Yahoo! News:
‘The survey, which was conducted from Sept. 9 to 11, shows Biden leading Trump by 10 percentage points among registered voters, 49 percent to 39 percent. Theprevious Yahoo News/YouGov poll found Biden ahead by just 6 points immediately after the Republican National Convention. ‘
President Trump has thrown out one of his most absurd explanations for opponent Joe Biden going from “so bad” in presidential debates to leading Trump in most election polls.
It’s because Biden is on performance-enhancing drugs, apparently. https://t.co/tmj9YpFSes
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) September 11, 2020
On the coronavirus, particularly, voters pulled their earlier support of Trump. A full 15 percent of Americans say that they have since changed their minds about his response to the virus as a result of Woodward’s tapes. Trump’s response to the stories, saying that he was trying not to “cause a panic” have not swayed anyone, most likely because his campaign full of warnings that Biden will destroy the suburbs, send gang members to nicer neighborhoods to wreak havoc, take away guns, stop the production of a vaccine to make Trump look bad, and defund the police.
‘Asked if their opinion of Trump’s coronavirus response has changed because of Woodward’s big scoop — a tape of Trump privately acknowledging the virus was “deadly stuff” even as he publicly sought, in his own words, “to play it down”— nearly a quarter of Americans (23 percent) say yes. Even 15 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2016 say the Woodward news has changed their mind about the president’s handling of the pandemic.
‘Those might seem like small numbers. But in an age of extreme polarization, they could augur a real shift. Overall, 15 percent of Americans say the Woodward quotes have made them less likely to vote to reelect the president in November — and a third of these were 2016 Trump supporters.
Great! Biden is finally being forced out of his basement. Now you’ll be able to see what is going on “up there”. He may do some “limited” campaigning. Basement Biden is no longer playing well in the Polls!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 8, 2020
The story from The Atlantic, which has been confirmed by The Associated Press, The Washington Post, and even Fox News, has done the president no favors, either. Too many statements made by Trump publicly in the past, statements like his insult of John McCain, saying he wasn’t a war hero because he was captured as a prisoner of war, tied the story together too neatly for American voters to ignore.
‘The military story seems to have had a similar impact. Asked which candidate shows more respect for the military, 50 percent of registered voters name Biden, compared to 39 percent for Trump. By the same margin, voters say Biden would do a better job leading the military than the current commander in chief.
‘Reactions to Trump’s reported remarks on the military were predictably partisan, but nearly a quarter of independents (23 percent) say the news increased their support for Biden, compared to just 9 percent who say the news increased their support for Trump. Six percent of 2016 Trump supporters say they have moved toward Biden as a result.’
The week that was expected to see the race tighten didn't. Biden leads Trump by anywhere from 7 to 10 points nationally. Fox News polls show Biden ahead by 9 in Arizona, 8 in Wisconsin and 4 in North Carolina. @AsteadWesley @anniekarni https://t.co/Eur97pRAVh
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) September 5, 2020