Just two months ago, Donald Trump warned against “bailouts” for Democrat-controlled states that were dealing with the financial consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is not fair to Republicans because all states that need help are headed by Democrats in all cases,” the President of the United States said at the time, as heavily affected states like New York and California sought federal financial aid. The impact of the virus.
Two months later, the American map of new coronavirus outbreaks looks completely different. States that reopened quickly, as the president advised, are now seeing an increase in cases and an increase in hospitalizations, and that is affecting the Republican heart. The states Trump won in 2016 account for about 75% of new cases, according to the Associated Press.
Some of those are key key states that Trump will surely need to win again to secure a second term. And as the devastation of the pandemic spreads across the country, other states long regarded as trusted Republicans are also increasingly at stake.
Recent polls show Trump following Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, in battlefield states like Florida and Arizona. A set of Fox News polls conducted late last month also found Trump and Biden practically tied in Texas and Georgia, two states that have long been considered Republican strongholds. All four states have reported record levels of new coronavirus cases in the past two weeks.
Trump has dismissed his disappointing poll numbers as “bogus,” but his re-election campaign is clearly aware of the president’s growing unpopularity as he avoids facing the latest surge in new cases. The Trump campaign placed its first television commercials in Georgia late last month, and several voter registration events were held in Texas over the July 4 holiday weekend.
“The pandemic has really clarified and highlighted both Republican leadership failures and the need for so many different political reforms that Democrats have been fighting for years,” said Royce Brooks, executive director of Annie’s List, which works to elect progressives. women in the state, adding: “Texas is certainly at stake.”
Most election experts say Trump still has the lead in Texas, which he won by nine points in 2016, but his popularity could help Democrats vote against securing historic victories in the state. “We may or may not see Texas achieve a state victory for the Democratic Senate nominee or for the presidential race, but we are absolutely on track to move the state house to Democratic control in November,” Royce said.
The situation is even worse for Republicans who vote negatively in traditional states like Florida, where Trump has been losing ground to Biden. A Fox News poll conducted late last month showed Biden leading by nine points in Florida, versus a three-point lead in April.
“We can deduce from our polls and we can anecdotally say that independents are being disconnected, so it is a growing concern,” said Alex Patton, a Republican strategist based in Gainesville, Florida. “Down below, people are suffering a lot.”
Those obstacles could have profound implications for the U.S. Senate, as Democrats struggle to regain control of the chamber. Texas, Georgia and Arizona will hold Senate elections this fall, and Trump’s controversial remarks about the coronavirus pandemic have put Republican senators in difficult positions as they prepare for the November election.
Republican Senator Martha McSally was already facing trouble in Arizona, where Democratic candidate Mark Kelly has been consistently leading in the polls. McSally declined to distance herself from Trump, even when evidence suggests her numbers are sinking in the state. An Arizona poll conducted last month showed Biden ahead by seven points, even though Democrats have only won the state once since 1952.
However, the 2018 midterm elections showed that Arizona was an increasingly difficult state for Republicans as suburban and Latinx voters increasingly leaned toward Democrats. McSally, who was appointed to her current Senate position, narrowly lost her 2018 Senate career to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Now, when Arizona sees an increasing number of coronavirus infections, Democrats believe that the state’s residents are ready for a change at the presidential level.
“Arizona has been on a long-term trend, especially for the past decade, away from the Republican Party,” said Democratic strategist DJ Quinlan. “But I think Covid and a number of other things have only made that happen faster.”
Chip Scutari, a political consultant based in Phoenix, Arizona, noted that any sitting president would face challenges trying to win a second term amid a global pandemic that has caused severe financial difficulties. “[Voters] they don’t pay attention to many of the political battles, but they are paying attention when someone in their family gets sick or their father loses a job, ”said Scutari. “This has transcended partisan politics, in my opinion.” He added: “I think the states of the battlefield have to be shifting towards a blue wave right now.”
Despite his “bogus poll” complaints, Trump appears to be somewhat aware of his precarious position. The President has already begun to claim that the elections will be “manipulated” by electoral fraud due to efforts to expand voting by mail, even though electoral fraud is indeed very rare. Trump’s unsubstantiated claims have been read as an attempt to delegitimize the election should he lose.
“Republicans know they are in trouble. They knew it even before the pandemic, ”said Brooks of Annie’s List. “That is why they insist on participating in voter suppression tactics here.”
Late last month, the supreme court rejected the request by Texas Democrats to extend mail voting to all voters in the state, leaving strict regulations on mail ballots. But Brooks said he is confident Texans will continue to vote in November.
“This is certainly not the first time in our history when people are forced to choose between their safety and their right to vote,” said Brooks. “And again and again, we’ve seen people choose to vote.”