WASHINGTON—Hardly a day goes by, now, in the view of many, when President Donald J. Trump does not commit an act which would eliminate an ordinary candidate from consideration for even the lowliest of elected positions.
Some have even suggested that he should be impeached again, and removed from office for his many “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
But to the amazement of many observers, Mr. Trump is just one good performance, one good week, away from winning the November presidential election outright, without even having to resort to his announced plans to cheat and steal a victory.
A USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll indicates many voters think that it’s possible for the president to get the winning “bounce” he needs to win from the upcoming debates with Democratic Party rival and former Vice President Joe Biden that he did not get from his party’s nominating convention last month.
A greater share—47 percent of those surveyed—predicted that Mr. Trump will win the debates. More than the 41 percent who said the Democratic candidate will win the debates. Independent voters picked Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden as the likely winner of the debates by 10 percentage points: 47 percent to 37 percent. That’s despite the fact that fewer respondents who watched at least some of the conventions said the political events made them more likely to support Mr. Trump; the newspaper reported.
Other late-August polls reveal that former vice president Biden maintains his grip on the 2020 race by the largest margin ever recorded. Mr. Biden is up 52 percent to 42 percent over the incumbent among likely voters nationally, and he has a 50 percent to 44 percent edge over Mr. Trump in the key battleground state of Wisconsin as well, that’s according to new CBS News/YouGov polls.
The stability of this race is record breaking when looking at polling dating back to 1940, according to CNN.
Mr. Trump is apparently counting on the hyped imagery of urban unrest and his own night-is-day coronavirus propaganda at the GOP convention to create the illusion that the president has defeated the virus, and that the only thing for White suburbanites to fear is the radical left’s efforts to violently push the country into civil collapse.
But another recent USA Today/Suffolk poll finds that 57 percent of voters think peaceful demonstrations should continue, even though violence has followed in a few instances. More than 93 percent of the demonstrations have been peaceful, a recent report found. Only 35 percent of those surveyed said the protests should stop.
The data suggests a sizable majority of the population does not see current unrest as a sign that a frightening wave of radicalism is sweeping across the land, portending the sort of imminent collapse that the GOP convention sought to portray.
The Trump campaign was rocked, however, by a devastating report in The Atlantic published Sept. 3—and since partially verified by the Associated Press, and even Mr. Trump’s favored Fox News—which said, quoting four anonymous sources with knowledge of the events, that Mr. Trump skipped a visit to the cemetery in France honoring fallen soldiers in the World War I Battle of Belleau Woods, who he reportedly dismissed as “losers.”
The president also reportedly called the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)—who was captured by the Vietnamese, tortured and imprisoned for more than five years—a “f—king loser” in a private conversation in 2018. Mr. Trump forcefully denied the report.
In a series of tweets on the night the story was first reported, Mr. Trump denied that he had mocked Sen. McCain and fallen soldiers behind closed doors, and he dismissed the report as “fake news.”
The reports that Mr. Trump disparaged fallen soldiers is consistent with some of his public comments, but this report goes deeper, and may have expanded the loathing for the incumbent among some middle-class, White voters, which was already felt by many low-income, and non-White potential voters, according to the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, convener of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
“Trump’s policies are bad and terrible and hurtful in every area from systemic racism, voter suppression, police violence, mass incarceration, mistreatment of immigrant brothers and sisters, mistreatment of indigenous people,” the Rev. Barber told this writer in an interview for WPFW radio’s “Monday Morning QB” program. “That’s what I mean. He’s been bad in terms of living wages and adjusting poverty.
“His policies have been bad. He’s put more money in the hands of the one Percent. And the percent of those at the bottom are in an ecological devastation,” he continued. “He’s tried to take away health care, even take away provisions that say corporations can’t deny people with preexisting conditions.
“He’s pumped more money into the bloated military budget. We know if we cut our military budget in half $800 billion to $350 billion, we still have more (budgeted) than China, Korea, Iran, Iraq and Russia combined.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is running what’s described as “the largest misinformation campaign in history,” as he questions the legitimacy of voting by mail in order to suppress the number of Biden votes counted. He also appointed the head of the U.S. Postal Service who has stripped it of resources, undermining its ability to fulfill a crucial role in processing mail-in ballots, a method that will be crucial to many, attempting to cast their votes in the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Rev. Barber has mounted a spirited, national, grassroots resistance campaign. “People all across Kentucky are organizing and mobilizing and what they call, ‘From the Hood to the Holler.’ But our campaign is not partisan. It is political, but not partisan.
“We are still disappointed that the Democrats have not yet come straight out and said, we’re going to fight poverty,” the Rev. Barber said. “They keep saying ‘working class.’
“There are some good things that they want to do in their platform. They have a platform called ending poverty. We want to hear Vice President Biden talk about the poverty that’s facing 140 million people, talk about it openly.
“We know that just one military contract could fund all 14 states that have denied Medicaid expansion, now the Affordable Care Act.
“And we know when it comes to religious nationalism, evangelicalism, he has a cadre of clergy around him that have chosen to pray his success. P-R-A-Y while he is preying P-R-E-Y-I-N-G on the least of these, on the people in this community in this country, that should be the focus of uplift.
“Since our Constitution says, we are supposed to promote the general welfare and our scriptures tell us that our nation will be judged by how we treat ‘the least of these.’ So, he is certainly a failure, certainly a contradiction concerning everything that is just, and right. But even before Trump was elected, there were still millions of people living in poverty,” said the Rev. Barber.
But Mr. Trump’s campaign strategy is likely linked to an emotional, rather than a pragmatic appeal, according to Arlie Hochschild, writing in The Guardian. The president proclaims himself the “law and order president” while on Fox he compares the Kenosha, Wisc., shooting of Jacob Blake, Jr. to a player missing “golf strokes.”
Every day, Mr. Hochschild wrote, the president “dashes off reckless go-get-‘em tweets; and seven of his closest advisers—Cohen, Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos, Gates, Stone, Bannon—have been indicted. He makes misleading statements such as: ‘The U.S. has among the lowest (coronavirus) case fatality rates of any major country.’”
Mr. Trump’s “aim is to evoke or suppress a range of emotions—fear, depression, anger at ‘fake Americans,’ love of ‘real Americans’ and, above all, awe of himself. In pursuit of this strategy, emotion is everything.
“The key targets of his strategy, and the most susceptible to it, are White, older, non-college-educated, evangelical and male. They live in economically declining rural, Rust Belt or blue-collar suburban America. Millions of such White men are insecurely employed, in unsteady webs of family relations, subject to addiction and despair,” Mr. Hochschild wrote.
The Trump strategy is not trying to win a majority of the votes cast. He’s using all his messaging to ramp up his base into just enough of a frenzy and to frighten just enough White suburbanites to pull off another electoral college win.
Still, most available polling suggests that Mr. Trump has failed to persuade the mainstream that coronavirus has been crushed and that the national event that truly threatens Americans’ lives and well-being is leftist protest. And that, The Washington Post reports, may be the worst news of all for Mr. Trump.
‘Most available polling suggests that Mr. Trump has failed to persuade the mainstream that coronavirus has been crushed and that the national event that truly threatens Americans’ lives and well-being is leftist protest. And that, The Washington Post reports, may be the worst news of all for Mr. Trump.’