US presidential election: why Trump is screwing up in the polls

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When it comes to Donald Trump, invoking the polls is an exercise in high flying. The 2016 precedent is in everyone’s mind when it comes to handling percentages and voting intentions. However, it is difficult to sweep away opinion polls with a simple wave of the hand when the same trend has emerged: for the past ten days, the gap between the president and his Democratic rival has continued to widen.

According to RealClearPolitics, which aggregates polls nationally, Biden’s lead was around 6 points on September 29. It was before a long “septimana horribilis” for Donald Trump, between a debate that turned into a rat race and his hospitalization because of the Covid-19 which put a stop to his campaign. Here he is now credited with almost ten points less than the former vice-president.

Regardless of pollsters, Trump is way ahead. A CNN survey carried out at the end of last week even credits him with 41% of the votes against 57% for Biden, his worst score of the year. same the Rasmussen institute, little known to disadvantage Donald Trump, highlights the gulf that currently separates the two candidates (52% for Biden against 40%).

“There is a dropout which is perhaps less due to his illness than to the management of communication and everything that this illness has revealed, such as the fact that no one is taking precautions against the coronavirus in the White House », Decrypts Marie-Cécile Naves, research director at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris) and specialist in the United States.

The coronavirus, Trump’s Achilles heel

Illustration of this more than shaky communication: the regular and unclear interventions of Sean Conley, the doctor of the White House, which raise more questions than they answer on the state of the president and the evolution of his health . Donald Trump’s speeches also did not help turn the presidential coronavirus to his advantage. Saying “we must not let ourselves be dominated by the Covid” when so many families have lost a loved one is probably not the best way to arouse empathy among Americans.

Above all, the twists and turns of the last few days have been so many reminders of the health disaster that has been unfolding since the beginning of the year in the United States. Donald Trump would like to do everything to avoid having to talk about this coronavirus which has killed more than 200,000 in the country and which could cause him to lose the votes so essential of more moderate voters.

“This is clearly the subject on which he is judged most negatively, including in his own camp, among seniors, among women,” says Marie-Cécile Naves. Saturday, it is with a theme with which he feels much more comfortable that he relaunched his campaign from the White House: “law and order”.

Blue alert in the South

Even more worrying than the national opinion polls for the president, there are the various surveys carried out in the key states, these territories which are essential for him not to have to leave the White House. Most of the lights are red. Or rather blue, the color of Democrats.

“He is falling on the wrong side in these key states which were elected four years ago, such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan”, underlines François Coste, professor of American civilization at Toulouse Jean-Jaurès University, which qualifies his remarks by recalling that at the same period it was Hillary Clinton who was given the lead in these States.

Even in the southern states, which usually lean towards the Republican side, Trump is a long way from assured victory. This is the case for example in Florida, Arizona, Georgia and even Texas. “As with the 2018 midterm elections, he geographically wins in the residential suburbs of large cities like Atlanta (Georgia) or Houston (Texas). These are constituencies which elected Democrats two years ago and which continue to switch according to the polls, ”explains Françoise Coste.

Is Trump’s bad patch only fleeting or is it a longer-term trend? The specter of the past election prompts all observers to be cautious. Around the same time four years ago, Hillary Clinton had a mattress about as thick as Joe Biden’s. “According to all the usual rules, with mass unemployment and a health disaster, Trump should lose,” says Françoise Coste. But these rules were those from before 2016. “

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