Welcome to our weekly review of the state of the 2020 campaign.
The week in numbers
Less than 100 days before the election, President Trump’s approval rating is stuck in the red. Gallup updated its approval tracker this week, showing Trump 15 points less.
His approval rating for the coronavirus is even lower (–21), according to the average of FiveThirtyEight polls.
A poll from Monmouth University in Georgia, traditionally a red state, showed a stalemate, with Trump and Joe Biden each receiving 47 percent support from registered voters.
Polls in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina have shown Biden an advantage in each of those states, all won by Trump four years ago.
Biden spent $ 11.8 million on TV commercials, while Trump was spending $ 4.7 million. Trump’s campaign retired its TV ads for six days, briefly pushing spending to $ 0 nationwide, as new campaign manager Bill Stepien conducted a “review” of advertising strategy.
On Facebook, Trump overtook Biden again, roughly $ 4.2 million at a little less 810 000 $.
If last week was presented by White House officials as a new direction for Mr. Trump – an attempt to stabilize his declining approval rating by appearing to take the coronavirus crisis more seriously – this week is one that we all knew she would inevitably follow, when her id took over the wheel.
Gone is the new post about the importance of wearing masks, or any sustained focus on what it claims is rapid progress towards a vaccine. On Thursday, Mr Trump first suggested the election could be postponed – a move some of his own former advisers have described as a weak attempt to forestall a potential loss in November.
Previously, Mr. Trump had defended his decision to retweet a claim that hydroxychloroquine was a “cure” for the virus and that masks were not needed.
“They are highly respected doctors,” he said, referring to a woman who also promoted videos claiming doctors were making drugs using DNA from strangers. “There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it, and she had huge success with it.
And he appealed to white voters in the suburbs trying to stoke racist fears about public housing and the people who live there.
In short, it’s been almost four years, and we know there’s never a new tone, just short periods of calm before the President reveals his lowest instincts again.
Mourn Herman Cain, but avoid reality
This week brought the sad reality few those close to the president wanted to acknowledge: Failure to strictly follow coronavirus precautions, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing, could have dire personal consequences.
Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate who served as president of Black Voices for Trump, died Thursday of complications from the virus, weeks after attending Mr. Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla. It was a busy setting and date – the weekend of June 19, as protests against George Floyd’s death spread across the country – and the President needed as many black supporters as he could. gather some.
Mr. Trump tweeted his condolences, calling Mr. Cain an “American patriot and great friend.” Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that Mr. Cain “represented the best of the American spirit.”
There was no nod to the reality that Mr. Cain may have put himself at greater risk because he was trying to be a good soldier for Mr. Trump. Inside the Tulsa Arena, Mr Cain posted selfies showing him sitting with other Black Trump supporters, none of whom wore masks.
It was a result for which few people at Trumpworld wanted to take any responsibility. A campaign adviser said Thursday he hoped no one would “politicize” Mr Cain’s death, and noted that it was impossible to say where someone might have contracted the virus. The campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Mr. Cain’s participation in the rally.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to circle Mr. Trump:
His national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, has become the latest and highest member of the administration to test positive for the coronavirus.
Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Mr Trump’s eldest son and a senior fundraiser for the re-election campaign, has received a flawless health check since testing positive for the coronavirus this month. And she’s already been spotted in the White House.
A rarity: Obama goes there
To describe former President Barack Obama’s public statements about his successor as carefully crafted is an understatement. Every word is considered, every shot accurately measured, as Mr. Obama balances the weight of his global prominence with his desire to let the current Democratic Party leaders chart their own course.
On Thursday, however, he leaned in all the way. No more flowery middle posts.
Praising John Lewis, the civil rights giant and member of Congress from Atlanta, Mr. Obama gave his full treatise on the current political moment, spelling out political priorities and fierce criticism of Mr. Trump without ever saying her name. It was the type of anti-Trump counter-programming that many Obama supporters had wanted to see for years.
It also represented a smooth evolution from the former president, who had adopted several ideas he did not approve of in the White House. Consider what he supported and his story:
Obama has made a strong call for electoral reforms, including making election day a public holiday and reinstating the voting rights law, which was sterilized in 2013 by the Supreme Court. During his presidency, Obama has at times downplayed the impact of voter suppression, focusing more on voter apathy. He has focused more on law enforcement efforts in recent years, as has his party.
Mr. Obama called the Senate obstruction a “relic of Jim Crow,” his strongest comments against the 60-vote procedural threshold that halted major legislation from both sides. His words contradict then-Senator Obama and then-President, who avoided efforts to remove the filibuster from the progressive base of the party. He even won a new convert: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont approved the elimination of filibuster after Mr. Obama’s comments, a reversal for the former presidential candidate.
On filibuster, Mr. Obama’s transition subtly mimics that of Mr. Biden. As a longtime Delaware senator, Mr. Biden rejected the idea of eliminating the filibuster. However, in recent comments at a Democratic fundraiser, he signaled an opening if Republican obstruction prevented reforms. The fusion of the Obama-Biden spirit continues.
Veepstakes is finally here (sort of)
Finally, the month is August, and Mr. Biden’s self-imposed timetable for a vice presidential selection has arrived. There are only two caveats: everything indicates that he will be given an extension, and we are hardly closer to knowing the selection – even the finalists – than at the beginning of July.
Supporters of potential candidates have presented public and private cases for their favorites, and Mr. Biden’s campaign has fueled speculation by hosting events with multiple candidates. Two candidates have more recently moved to the top of Mr. Biden’s list: Representative Karen Bass of California and Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser.
Here’s what we know (and what we don’t know):
Mr. Biden’s selection will be historic: While he made it clear months ago that he would choose a woman, the opportunity to make a Vice President’s story should not be underestimated. Since Mr Biden could pick a woman of color, the glass ceiling could crack twice.
Mr. Biden wants a managing partner: There’s a lot of talk about what the selection could mean for November’s result, but that’s probably not the most important factor. Mr. Biden saw himself as a complementary part of Mr. Obama’s administration and will be looking for someone with whom he will have a personal relationship. Much of his decision will come down to things that are difficult to quantify in strictly political terms. It’s more vibrations than science.
Mr Biden will shape future primaries: It’s unclear whether Mr. Biden’s choice will shape the race against Mr. Trump, but the selection could have an imprint on Democratic presidential politics in the future. If Mr. Biden wins, his vice president will have a huge national platform to define and expand his political brand, just as Mr. Biden did under Mr. Obama. This could put her in pole position to dominate the more moderate wing of the party after Mr Biden. Being # 2 is a low risk and high paying job, especially for someone who would be the first woman to take the job.
What you might have missed
Giovanni Russonello contributed to the report.