US election 2020: How low can Donald Trump go?

5. Biden VP watch

Former Vice President Joe Biden has spent the last few weeks delivering a series of policy addresses — to not much fanfare. (The Biden campaign can’t be too upset, though, as long as polling continues to show their candidate way out in front of President Donald Trump. More on that below.)

One bit of news from Biden that will definitely break through with the public will be his vice presidential pick. Biden has previously said he would like to have his mind made up by early August, but may not make an announcement until the start of the Democratic National Convention on August 17.

As Biden and his team navigate what we assume is the final stages of their decisions, it’s worth considering how much his large lead over the incumbent could factor into the pick.

Does Biden lean more toward a governing pick — like former ambassador Susan Rice — with it looking more likely in the polls that he will be the 46th president?

Or does he still go with a geographic pick that helps him in a particular state or region, under the belief that the race will inevitably tighten and he needs to make sure he sprints though the finish line?

Anyone who tells you they know the answers to those questions is, well, lying. The veepstakes is notoriously difficult to predict since the people who know aren’t saying. (Of course, the people who don’t know talk relentlessly about it!)

4. Will any state shut down again?

With the coronavirus continuing to rage in the South and Southwest and governors struggling to get control, questions are being raised as to whether a full shutdown — as the country did in April — may be the only solution to slow the spread.

In Florida, congressional Democrats wrote a letter to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to make mask-wearing mandatory and to shut down parts of south Florida. In California, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CNN’s Jake Tapper that his city is “on the brink” of another shutdown. An op-ed at Azcentral.com urged Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to “enact statewide mask and stay-at-home orders.”
Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, who had been skeptical of the need for full shutdowns amid these latest outbreaks, said last week that states with surges should “seriously look at shutting down.”

Obviously to re-shut down a state carries massive economic and political consequences that no governor wants to deal with — now or ever. But what if that looks like the only option to keep your constituents safe?

3. What’s in McConnell’s coronavirus bill?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to unveil the details of a new coronavirus relief bill this coming week in what is already shaping up to be a major fight not just with Democrats but also with the Trump White House.

As The Washington Post reported Saturday night:

“The Trump administration is trying to block billions of dollars for states to conduct testing and contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill, people involved in the talks said Saturday.

“The administration is also trying to block billions of dollars that GOP senators want to allocate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and billions more for the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic at home and abroad, the people said.”

Which, woof. At a time when coronavirus cases continue to surge — 70,000+ cases were reported nationwide on Saturday — it seems more than a little strange that the Trump administration would be pushing to reduce money for the CDC, not to mention cuts to testing and contact tracing dollars for the states.

And even if Senate Republicans and the White House iron out their differences, there is still the matter of whether Democrats will buy in to any plan.

On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed dismay with the lack of communication from McConnell on the legislation; “We have not heard a peep from McConnell or the Republicans or the administration on any proposal, even though we’ve been asking for weeks and weeks and weeks,” said the New York Democrat.

Remember this: Congress is set to leave at the end of the month — for (at least) a month. That means if a coronavirus stimulus package doesn’t get done between now and July 31, it might not get done at all.

2. The mask debate, part 1 million

Last week in this space, I noted that the debate surrounding mask-wearing wasn’t over simply because Trump chose to wear one during a weekend visit to Walter Reed hospital.
Cue Trump in a Sunday interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on whether he would consider a national mask mandate:

“No, I want people to have a certain freedom. And I don’t believe in that, no. I don’t believe in the statement that if everyone wore a mask, everything disappears… Everybody who is saying don’t wear a mask — all of sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask, and as you know masks cause problems, too. With that being said, I’m a believer in masks. I think masks are good.”

Uh, what?

So, Trump doesn’t believe in mandating mask-wearing. And believes “masks cause problems, too. But also he is a “a believer in masks” and thinks they are “good.”

If that isn’t a mixed message, I don’t know what is. It’s depressing because the science here is clear. Masks may not wipe out coronavirus entirely but, in the words of CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield: “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting.”

That the President of the United States continue to cast a public health measure as some sort of liberty thermometer means that his followers still believe that mask-wearing (or not) is some political statement.  

It’s not. It’s common sense. And doing something for the common good.

1. How low can Trump go?

It just keeps getting worse for Trump.

On Sunday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed him trailing Biden by 15 points — 55% to 40%. That’s the third national poll in the space of a week that has shown Trump behind Biden by double digits. An NBC-Wall Street Journal survey had Biden up 11 while a Quinnipiac University poll pegged the margin at Biden +15. A Fox News poll released Sunday had Biden up 8. Biden’s lead in the Real Clear Politics average of all national polls is now over 8 points.
The question now becomes whether Trump has hit rock bottom or whether there is still more room to slide. As CNN’s Harry Enten noted last week, there is some evidence that Trump’s base may be leaving him over his handling of the coronavirus. (In the Post-ABC poll, just 1 in 3 (34%) say they trust Trump to handle the pandemic while 64% say they don’t.)

Trump’s reelection is already in dire shape. And any Republican who is set to share the ballot with him on November 3 is already very worried about what the President’s underperformance means for their chances.

If Trump’s numbers go any lower on the ballot test — like, anywhere in the 30s — there will be a wholesale attempt by Republicans to run away from him. Heck, if Trump’s numbers stay even close to where they are now for another month, watch the rats try to jump off the ship.

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