A spate of bad news cycles may be making Republicans reticent to respond to polls even as the likelihood that they will vote Trump remains unchanged. This nonresponse bias is small, and flagging enthusiasm close to Election Day could mean diminished Republican turnout. This far out, however, discrepancies in polling responses could make the situation look worse for Trump than the underlying reality.
There are also structural reasons to think Trump’s standing will improve. High unemployment is hurting Trump, but if the economy continues to recover, even anemically, his polling will improve with it. Absent a second economic drop, Trump should be at or near the bottom in his polling, given the sharpness of the crisis.
Incumbent presidents also enjoy campaigning advantages. The president has the entire executive branch, and all the trappings of a head of state, at his disposal. Used wisely, these present an image of command and competence. That horse may have bolted the barn in Trump’s case – an image badly damaged by Trump’s erratic tweeting, mishandling of the riots and befuddling statements on COVID-19 – but he is still President and he has tools available should he choose to use them.
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