April 21, 2020


Trump's crisis mismanagement alienating seniors : Older voters have been a pivotal part of the president's base. But they're beginning to turn on him over the coronavirus. (Josh Kraushaar,  April 21, 2020, National Journal)

Typically during a crisis, leaders try to build as much bipartisan goodwill as possible to hedge against the inevitable recriminations to come. Trump, by contrast, relishes in embracing polarizing positions that only divide voters and make his political recovery all the more difficult in the future. By turning the coronavirus crisis into a partisan issue so quickly, Trump ensures that he's on the losing side of the debate.

Just look at the numbers. Even as small protests against stay-at-home orders have percolated in several states, public polling shows minimal opposition to statewide restrictions. A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that just 22 percent of Americans supported the protests, with only 36 percent of Republicans in agreement. Far from agreeing with the president's Twitter demands to "liberate" states with stay-at-home orders, they agree with his administration's more cautious guidance.

This week's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 58 percent of Americans worry that the country will move too quickly to loosen regulations, compared to just 32 percent of those who worry the country will take too long to reopen. Democrats were overwhelmingly worried about the risks of opening too soon, with 77 percent taking the health-first position and only 19 percent expressing more concern about the economy. Republicans were more closely divided, with 48 percent worried more about the economy against 39 percent more worried about the coronavirus. (A sizable majority of independents sided with the Democrats on the issue.)

This isn't polling that would typically lead a president to lean into an antigovernment message that ignores the guidance of White House health experts, as some of his political advisers are reportedly advocating. His mixed messaging is confusing his own supporters. And it's emboldening several red-state governors to reopen their states prematurely, raising the risk of a future outbreak that could set the president's efforts back.

Going against the tide of public opinion carries serious political consequences. This column has pointed out the downward trajectory of Trump's approval ratings as he struggles to demonstrate competence in this crisis while failing to offer clarity about the path forward. But he risks doing greater damage by going against the interests of his own voters.

For a preview on how things could get worse for the president, look at the evolving political views of seniors, one of Trump's most supportive constituencies in the previous election. They are also the most concerned about the coronavirus, given they have a much greater risk of dying if they become infected.

The latest Morning Consult poll found that 65-and-older voters prioritized defeating the coronavirus over healing the economy by nearly a 6-to-1 ratio. And over the past month, they've become the group most disenchanted with Trump's handling of the crisis. In mid-March, seniors were more supportive of Trump than any other age group (plus-19 net approval). Now, their net approval of the president has dropped 20 points and is lower than any age group outside of the youngest Americans.

Dan Patrick on coronavirus: 'More important things than living' (Doha Madani, 4/21/20, NBC)

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick doubled down on controversial comments he has made about the coronavirus pandemic, telling Fox News on Monday that Americans had to "take some risks" in reopening the economy.

Patrick was heavily criticized last month after he suggested in an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson that he and other senior citizens might be willing to die to save the economy.

Governs like Nixon, runs like McGovern.
Posted by at April 21, 2020 6:39 PM