Trump would like nothing better than for the November election to become a culture war. In their study of how political preferences are determined by personality types, Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler made two especially pertinent points. First, those with what they call “fixed” personalities (wary, conservative, hierarchical, Trumpy) outnumber those with “fluid” personalities (trusting, liberal, open to new experiences). Second, people become more fixed, or Trumpier, when they fear social unrest.
Of course, general elections are not just culture wars. Democrats will be hoping (though they can’t admit it) that, by November, the U.S. will be seen to have suffered more badly than other countries from COVID-19 and that Trump will get the blame.
But what if there is no significant second surge? What if, by November, it turns out that most developed countries suffered similar fatalities and that the bigger variable was how much economic damage they inflicted on themselves through excessive closures? What if Trump’s skepticism turns out to have been justified all along? In that situation, he might be hard to beat.