There is a reason there have been no major comeback stories by elected incumbent presidents. Voters elect a president holding certain expectations, and if those expectations haven’t been met after 42 months, it’s highly unlikely something will happen in the next four months to change perceptions.
Should we declare Trump finished? Of course not. Just because no elected incumbent has ever come back from 10 points down doesn’t mean Trump can’t become the first. But whether or not a comeback happens is likely out of Trump’s control.
He appears incapable of changing his bombastic approach to governing, making it hard for voters to change their perception of his presidency. Biden’s chummy, empathetic image has solidified in the public mind, so much so that his penchant for gaffes has yet to derail his candidacy. Biden probably would have to commit a gaffe of an extremely more serious nature than anything he has done to date, if he is to sabotage himself.
Furthermore, Trump’s ability—at this juncture—to contain the coronavirus and rejuvenate the economy is also limited. Many of us probably aren’t expecting any autumn miracles, and even if there is one, the public may not give Trump any of the credit. Still, an economy on the mend could well help Trump close the current polling gap.