Some strategists go so far as to say they think the president’s insistent push to lift economic restrictions, compared with Joe Biden’s emphasis on health and safety, even helped his cause with voters, leading to narrower-than-expected losses in battleground states and helping Republicans enjoy surprise success in congressional races.

“It’s possible that the pandemic actually didn’t accrue to Biden’s benefit at all,” said Tim Miller, the political director for the super PAC Republican Voters Against Trump. “And in certain areas, the open-it-up debate might have cost him votes.”…

Other Democratic strategists said their data showed that voters grew so tired of the pandemic by the end of the campaign that they grew hesitant to even mention it in their ads, fearful that anything more than a fleeting image of people wearing masks would provoke a backlash.

“People were exhausted by it,” said Ian Russell, a Democratic strategist. “They wanted to move on.”