Two V's will determine Trump's election fate

The first V is the potential V-shaped recovery in the economy. The term itself, “V-shaped recovery,” is meant to describe charts about the economy during a recession. Some, like the recession of 1921, involve sharp dips with a quick snapback; you get a “V”-like shape in the graph of the economy. Others, like the 2008-09 recession, produce something more like a distorted “U,” with the economy slowly grinding back into shape. You could theoretically get an “L.” We don’t want an “L.”

On this front, the numbers have been good for Trump. Unemployment did not hit the 20% milestone people were fearing, and has dropped sharply over the past two months of the second quarter. Consumer spending is up, as are retail sales. The stock market has held steady, down from its peaks but up from its lows. For right now, it does look like Trump is getting his “V,” and is probably getting it early enough to make at least some difference…

The second V is related to the first: whether there is a V-shaped recovery in COVID-19 cases. If you’ve been paying attention to the news, many states are seeing an acceleration in cases, especially in the South and Southwest. The exact cause of this is unknown; it could be people retreating indoors to beat the heat, it could be a refusal to wear masks, but regardless, the acceleration is real. If this continues through November — if parts of the country begin to resemble New York last winter — the president will likely feel the heat.