When the history books are written about the 2020 U.S. presidential election, June could well be seen as the month from which Donald Trump’s re-election bid never recovered.
To kick off the last full week of the month, former Vice President Joe Biden saw his lead grow to more than 18% over the incumbent on the Bonus.com 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Tracker, an increase of 6 percentage points over last week.
Another week of controversy and unforced errors helped Biden solidify his lead. Trump’s June 20 rally in Tulsa, Okla. was supposed to signify a triumphant return to his comfort zone after a few rough weeks. However, attendance figures dwarfed the numbers the campaign was anticipating (6,200 actual vs. over 100,000 expected), robbing Trump of a desperately needed moment of glory.
Trump’s inner circle also found themselves fending off accusations that the president was playing politics with the federal government’s coronavirus response following a bizarre claim at the rally that he had ordered a slowdown in testing, insisting Trump was only joking.
“You know, testing is a double-edged sword. We’ve tested now 25 million people,” said Trump from the podium Saturday night in Tulsa. “Here’s the bad part: When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people. You’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.”
Trump was also criticized for again referring to Covid-19 as “Kung Flu” – a term for the disease caused by coronavirus that even presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway has called “highly offensive.”
Only serving to deepen the incumbent’s humiliation at his first campaign rally in months, the administration reportedly got trolled by a group of young TikTok users and Korean pop music fans who registered for “potentially hundreds of thousands” of tickets to the event.
Controversy kicked off President Trump’s weekend even ahead of his disappointing night in Tulsa with the sudden firing of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, which played out in chaotic fashion.
Berman was in charge of major crime investigations for the Southern District of New York, which has reportedly been investigating Trump and his lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who has faced extensive criticism for the perception that he puts the president’s interests above the country’s, announced Berman’s resignation on Friday night. About an hour later, Berman released a statement saying he had not in fact resigned. Trump then personally fired Berman the next afternoon. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler almost immediately announced the committee would open an investigation into Berman’s dismissal.
“The whole thing smacks of corruption and incompetence, which is what we have come to expect from this President and his Attorney General,” Nadler told The Hill.
This new round of trouble for Trump comes on top of the country’s ongoing health and culture crises. Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have topped 120,000, with several southern states plus California setting daily records for new cases in recent weeks.
Protests continue nationwide against systemic racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. Trump has faced sustained criticism for a response seen as feckless and tone-deaf, and a general failure to rise to the historic moment in a leadership capacity.
Biden supporters would be wise to avoid prematurely celebrating his rise in the polls, however. Remember: Hillary Clinton was all but a shoo-in to win the presidency in 2016 right up to Election Day, so winning re-election wouldn’t be the first rabbit Trump has pulled out of his hat.
That said, U.S. presidential election bettors are clearly seeing momentum building in Biden’s favor. Whether the Democrats can keep up that momentum until the ballots are cast remains to be seen.