The unofficial end of summer may have passed, but nothing is cooling down in the 2020 election race. September seems poised to continue the harsh rhetoric of months past, as both COVID-19 and civil unrest are still polarizing the electorate. So what are the implications of the past week on both Donald Trump and Joe Biden?
Candidate Ads: Labor Day weekend was a massive advertisement for President Trump. The infamous “Great American Boat Parades,” which occurred across the country, have become the preferred method of organization for Trump supporters during this pandemic. As someone who witnessed the one in Cape May County, New Jersey from out on the water, I can attest to the parades’ sheer magnitude. The boat ride from Cape May to Wildwood Crest normally takes about 40 minutes, but it took over two hours in all of the traffic.
However, the parade in Lake Travis, Texas on Saturday made headlines for all the wrong reasons, as five small boats sank. Apparently, they took on water from the waves created by the larger boats in the parade. Although no one was injured in this ironic event, the Trump campaign hopes that the Texas boat parade does not become a metaphor for the president’s re-election bid.
Speaking of irony, I am certain that you have seen reports of maskless Nancy Pelosi visiting a San Francisco hair salon. Whether Pelosi’s “setup” claim holds weight or not, it is clearly not a good look for someone calling for national mask mandates. The Trump campaign understands this, and wasted no time in savaging “Nancy Antoinette” in a new ad. While the ad itself is nothing extraordinary, it highlights Pelosi’s hypocrisy better than Joe Biden’s “Always” highlights his history of standing up to injustices. It’s enough for me to score this one in Trump’s column.
Organization and Policy: Like his boat parades, Trump’s visit to Kenosha last week was a mixed bag. Unlike his refusal to visit Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death, the president willingly travelled to Kenosha to see the unrest for himself. However, Trump’s continuous dismissal of the protests as “domestic terrorism” significance shows that he does not seem interested in understanding the causes of the violence.
Among other things, Trump’s reluctance to address the protests—both peaceful and violent—has certainly frustrated Biden. His approach toward the president on Twitter has grown consistently more combative since the nominating conventions last month. This week, Biden called out Trump’s economy for enriching the wealthy and implied that Trump does not understand the role of labor unions in building the middle class.
There are two ways to read into this. One, Biden’s hardline stance against the president is increasingly meeting the demands of the progressive votes he’ll need to win in November. Two, Biden is attempting to capitalize off of the growing number of Republican leaders who have refused to support Trump in November. Both strategies are solid, but I do question whether Biden’s newfound aggression on Twitter is simply a case of fighting fire with fire.
What do the polls say?The polls this week seem to suggest that Biden’s Twitter strategy has been effective. A new MSNBC poll has him leading in six swing states that Trump won in 2016: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This poll is backed up by even a poll from Fox News yesterday, which shows Biden leading by nine points in Pennsylvania (53-44%). However, if Trump can effectively mobilize suburban voters against the violence in America’s cities, he still has a chance to tip several of these swing states red again.
What’s next? Antifa being Antifa and causing unrest, colleges being colleges and fighting for federal funding … and Trump being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?
Have a great week!
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