With just 97 days to go until the 2020 US Presidential Election, former Vice President Joe Biden has settled into a comfortable lead, according to the Bonus.com Election Odds Tracker.
As of this writing, Biden leads President Donald Trump by just under 25% as the favorite to win the election. The last week has seen a slight trend reversal, but Trump has only managed to claw back two percentage points in that time.
The candidates were virtually deadlocked at the start of June, but Trump’s response to dueling national crises has left much to be desired, and the president is finding himself fighting to secure his base heading into November, never a good sign for an election-year incumbent.
COVID Concerns Still Linger
Although President Trump has resumed his daily coronavirus press briefings, he’s spent inordinate amounts of his podium time at these events airing grievances about everything from his perceived enemies to his approval ratings. Trump has used these briefings, ostensibly intended to inform the public about an ongoing pandemic that has killed more than 150,000 Americans, to level attacks against the press, Joe Biden, and even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
As July comes to a close, the U.S. is seeing around 50,000 new coronavirus cases per day, with daily deaths hovering around 1,000. By any objective measure, the country is far from out of the woods on overcoming the pandemic.
Trump’s inner circle even had a recent brush with coronavirus, with National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday, July 27. Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert, a staunch Trump ally, was slated to fly with Trump on Air Force One on Wednesday when he, too tested positive for coronavirus. Gohmert has vocally refused to wear a mask, and has been repeatedly seen walking around the Capitol without one.
Trump’s Controversial Response To Street Protests
Street protests continue across the U.S. two months after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd after kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes while he was in police custody. Floyd’s death has been the catalyst for a global protest movement against systemic racism and police brutality.
The movement’s message has been somewhat clouded by numerous incidents of violence, which has seen the downtown areas of several major cities turned into war zones, with graffiti, destruction of public property, and street battles with police officers a frequent occurrence. There is ongoing disagreement over who is responsible for the violence, but the situation has given Trump cover to dispatch federal law enforcement officers to Portland, Ore. to quell the violence, an action dubbed “Operation Legend.”
The arrival of federal authorities fed the flames of violence, using flash bangs, pepper balls, tear gas and more in attempts to disperse the crowds, which reportedly threw rocks, bottles, and fireworks in response. The crackdown has prompted some to accuse the Trump administration of attempting to silence dissent, noting the displays of force were Oregon State officials at all levels have come out against the deployment.
Operation Legend has since spread, with hundreds of federal agents activated in Democratic-led U.S. cities including Detroit and Chicago, with the stated goal of curbing gun violence in the cities. The move has been as controversial in Michigan and Illinois as it was in Oregon.
How Trump Could Thread The Needle
The president’s job approval rating may have sunk to a 17-month low in the wake of ongoing national tumult, with just 40.2% of Americans supporting him as of this writing, according to FiveThirtyEight. But Trump might have a path to victory: the stock market.
The S&P 500 index is in the positive for the year at this late stage of the 2020 US presidential election cycle. CNBC noted this week that the performance of the S&P 500 in the last three months before Election Day has accurately predicted the outcome of every election since 1984. This includes 2016, when nearly every national poll had Hillary Clinton defeating Trump by significant margins.
Trump has frequently touted the performance of the U.S. Stock Market during his administration, eager to take credit for the positive movements that have happened under his watch. Markets have been consistently inconsistent since the pandemic hit, with the long-term impacts to the global economy yet to be fully known. That does neutralize somewhat the effectiveness of touting market games as a personal accomplishment, but if the markets remain upbeat heading into the election, it could give Trump a much-needed boost.