“This race has been wildly stable, but this does really add to the sense things are getting out of control,” says GOP lobbyist Liam Donovan. “Even when the polls were ugly, he felt invincible to a lot of people. Now they’re starting to come to grips with the fact that there’s no more time to turn things around. Reality is cracking the force field.”…

“Depending on how it’s handled on both sides, you could have a real ‘win one for the Gipper’ moment,” says Joe Brettell, a media consultant who has worked in the past for Republicans. The outcome depends partly on the severity of Trump’s illness, Brettell says. “If he’s able to overcome this in a relatively short amount of time, then it only bolsters the image: COVID may have taken down 200,000 Americans but it wasn’t strong enough to take down Donald J. Trump.”

Yet Democratic observers say the re-emergence of the virus as the focal point of the campaign can only hurt Trump. “I think there would be more opportunity to ‘rally around the flag’ if it was a flag that he had honored, but the fact that he disregarded the crisis is fundamentally a problem for him,” says Democratic strategist David Axelrod, a top adviser to former President Barack Obama. “And his illness is emblematic of that disregard.”