Once Donald Trump tested positive for COVID19 late last week it immediately triggered the questions of how the politics would play out so close to the November election and how this diagnosis would impact the race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
This notion was even strengthened when Trump was airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center for extensive care on Friday afternoon. It was decided that the President would be administered therapeutic treatments to help combat COVID from an antibody cocktail, remdesivir injections, and dexamethasone, it made sense to have him be located at the hospital in case there was/is any negative side effects that would arise from these clinical drugs. Thankfully, after what was a fairly confusing weekend, it seems like Trump is recovering and should hopefully be discharged from the hospital soon. Even though there are people who seem to want otherwise, this is good news.
But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to focus on the idea that because Trump will now be off the campaign trail probably at least for this whole week so it is a golden opportunity for Joe Biden to be in the spotlight of this campaign. Obviously, the media will continue to be laser focussed on the President; however, if Joe Biden does events this week it will largely be the first time that his remarks will go unopposed from Trump. Biden will have the floor to travel to swing states in both the midwest and sunbelt states to do speeches and events to try and further spread his message and encourage voters. Trump will largely be beholden to his twitter.
As Trump said in an address post diagnosis, leaders will tackle these types of issues head on. Not the virus, as he referred to in another video, but more how to defeat the “invisible enemy”. I think that was a shot at Biden in attempt to pressure him to go out and show his face and ideas to voters. With Trump off the campaign it will be further noticed if Biden calls early lids and/or refuses to take questions. The media will basically have no other choice than to put Biden’s campaign right in front of their coverage.
And since Trump’s announcement, Biden has largely done and said all the right things. He wished the President well, he announced that his campaign would pull all negative ads (even if that’s not entirely true), and he has put the refocus of the campaign back on the coronavirus and some blanket ways we can fight it. Masks, testing, social distancing, sanitizing, etc.
But, these little pep talks in the form of tweets only go so far. We appreciate the boat of confidence, Joe, but it’s time you can give specifics in how/when you’d get the economy back and why your plan is better than the incumbents’. This campaign will be one of the most memorable in history and now we will see how the Biden team will act upon what was their “basement strategy”. This could potentially be continued throughout the rest of the month as a poll came out yesterday that showed Biden up 14 points in a national poll. This poll was conducted before Trump announcing his having the virus. This shows that Biden is largely on a path to victory and all he has to do is remain on course and he should win the election.
As we saw in 2016, though, the polls are not always the best way to indicate the state of the race and Biden began to travel around more just a few weeks ago as his internal polling seemed to be different than what the public polls were suggesting. This week could be indicative of team Biden’s thoughts on the race with Trump having to take a back seat. Although looking back the polls in 2016 showed a closer race than what we may have seen back then and especially right now, there is still over a month to the election and calling the race over before all the votes are even cast is irresponsible. Biden can use this time to really put a wrench in Trump’s narratives against him.
There is also the VP debate this week so it would make sense for them to try and rile up enthusiasm heading towards November 3rd. The enthusiasm gap is still wide, but this may be the best chance to narrow that for team Biden as well. The enthusiasm data is really the only trend that explicitly favors Trump.
I think voters will be continuing to focus on the responses from both candidates as we go through this week and as we monitor the health of the President the same should be focussed on the former VP as well.
I could be entirely wrong, though, maybe the media will continue to give Joe Biden a pass as he runs his calmer, “restore the soul” campaign. The questions and accusations about the President’s health as he looks to defeat the virus will continue to drive much of the story. Joe will have the advantage of calling early lids and get away with quick speeches that return zero Q&A.
I think if Joe is truly in the lead like the polls suggest, then he can use this week to put the race away and prove that he should be President. It won’t be easy but it’s a calculated risk that he should be willing to take as both an American and a leader. You can’t get to the Presidency without taking a few chances and now is the time for Joe Biden to prove that he should be the one in the White House for the next 4 years.
I’m afraid that if he just sits back while Kamala takes the debate stage he risks showing that those who accuse the ticket of actually being Harris/Biden are actually right. He needs to show that he is in charge and as he says “the democratic party”. Joe has an opportunity to put much of the doubt against him to rest.
We’ll have to wait and see how the week plays out.