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How much will COVID-19 cost Donald Trump on Nov 3?

Tue, 3 Nov 2020 Source: Malik Sullemana

As the United States of America (USA) reels from the crushing human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and the painful wounds of racial and social division, President Donald J Trump is still living in self-denial.

Trump did not cause the pandemic but his handling of the disease, which continues to wreak havoc across the globe, leaves much to be desired.

Today, millions of Americans have been plunged into abject poverty and the divide between the rich and the poor is stark even in the United States.

Nonetheless, President Trump still holds big rallies in different places with supporters showing up without masks and not observing social distancing.

The United States has four per cent of the world’s population but 20 per cent of COVID-19 deaths.

Korea recorded its first case the same day as the United States but recorded less than 500 deaths as compared to the United States.

At a time when Korea was carrying out a drive-through testing, walkthrough testing, extensive laboratory testing and encouraging citizens to wear masks, President Trump was, as usual, spreading conspiracy theories on Twitter - calling the pandemic “the Chinese virus”, occasionally referred to it as a Democratic hoax and that it would suddenly disappear as the flu virus did.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, families have lost loved ones, including breadwinners. The fate of millions, including business owners, hangs in the balance as the Senate is yet to reach a compromise on stimulus package, and it is so shocking to see Trump talk about COVID-19 so glibly.

More than that, the devastating impact of COVID-19 on mental health and health facilities across the 50 states making up the United States cannot be underestimated.

There is one absolute truth about Trump’s handling of the pandemic – he has failed to save the lives of the people he is seeking to govern again.

With a day left until the November 3 election, Americans have a choice to make between President Trump’s leadership and the vision laid out by former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee.

Biden has lashed out at Trump for failing to tackle the disease and promised to offer better leadership if he is elected.

On March 29, Trump told veteran journalist Bob Woodward that, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”

So, Trump knew how serious COVID-19 was and he covered it up because it would hurt his re-election bid.

It remains to be seen whether Americans will judge Trump’s administration based on his handling of the coronavirus disease or otherwise.

But how much will the virus pandemic cost President Trump in the November 3 election?

As indicated above, Trump may win a resounding victory if the polls get it wrong this time around as it happened in the 2016 election.

Biden is a more likeable person; he is tough and resolute.

Although, the coronavirus is a major political issue in the U.S election, climate change, housing, education, healthcare, immigration, foreign policy, racial injustice, and economic inequalities are issues that will inform the decision of voters.

President Trump has touted his achievement in building a resilient economy, one that he believed could secure him a resounding second term victory at the election.

To be fair, Trump has done creditably in creating jobs, thanks to the Obama-Biden administration who bequeathed a solid economy to Trump.

Biden has been a champion for working families, and fighting for the right taxes to be paid by corporations his entire career. And he has promised to heal America from the painful wounds of hatred once he becomes President.

If voters were to consider only the pandemic in deciding who goes to the White House, then Trump’s path to victory becomes very narrow.

On the other hand, President Trump could win the election if Americans overlook his shortfalls and give him another chance. So, yes, either is possible.

Even conservative political pundits have predicted victory for Biden, who most national polls show is leading Trump in key battle ground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and even Texas.

President Trump has unrepentantly made Biden’s health a campaign tool, occasionally referred to him as “sleepy Joe” and mocked him for “showing up with the biggest mask I have ever seen.”

As scientists and researchers race against time for a vaccine and ultimately a cure for the virus, one sure way to hold the pandemic at bay is the strict observance of safety protocols.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Erin Burnett of CNN last Friday, “If people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it.”

On the same day, a data released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington said “If 95 per cent of Americans wore masks in public, more than 100,000 lives could be saved in the United States through February.”

For months, Trump and his campaign team had and continue to downplay the severity of the pandemic, which consequently has plummeted the American economy in a way never experienced since the great recession.

The pandemic is getting markedly worse by the minute and health experts say the resurgence of cases that they had warned against would strike in the fall and winter is here and that it could be the worst the US has seen so far. Surging numbers in the US – where there have been a total of more than 8.6 million infections and 228,000 deaths show the nation is at a dangerous tipping point.

The seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 two weeks ago, topping the previous peak of 67,293 reported on July 22. The two highest single days of new cases were Friday and Saturday, with more than 83,000 new cases added each day.

Electoral College

To win the election, a candidate needs to grab 270 out of the 538 electoral college votes – a system the US uses to elect its president, in which each state is given a number of votes based on how many members it sends to Congress – House of Representative and the Senate.

No Republican president has won the White House without Florida and it appears that Trump is losing grip of the state which has 29 massive electoral college votes.

Biden is trying to win back Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, which he and President Obama won in 2008 and 2012 and turn blue Georgia, a state the Democratic Party had not won since 1992.

The two candidates are crisscrossing these states in the final sprint, with Biden outspending Trump in television ads and more cash on hand.

Trump is walking on a very tight rope and may suffer defeat at the jaws of victory if he takes the electorate for granted.

The battle is far from over but November 3 may prove to be an electoral vaccine.

Columnist: Malik Sullemana