Trump wins the lockdown wars

Now, the debate is primarily over how quickly and completely reopening should take place, with the stragglers mainly blue states. Anthony Fauci, considered by many the public face of stay-at-home policies, now says the country can’t stay locked down forever. When Trump’s Easter target date was deemed unrealistic, Memorial Day weekend was floated as another possibility — and the grand opening is beginning.

Whether Trump wins reelection now depends substantially on how the reopening is perceived. Voters are still nervous about returning to normal too quickly, including key Trump demographics such as senior citizens, who have been trending Democratic during the pandemic, and religious voters, among whom there has been some slippage in favorability for Trump. But a Harvard/Politico poll found that 60% of Republicans now want nonessential businesses to open up in their states, following the president’s lead. Trump is betting heavily that reopening will lead to an economic rebound without deepening the public health crisis…

The question is how much the economy and public morale will need to improve, without any deterioration in coronavirus containment, to lift Trump’s standing. It could require a combination of better numbers and shifting expectations.