Election Update: How is Voter Responding to Trump’s Corona Infection? | NOW

Welcome to this weekly update in the run-up to the US presidential election on November 3. With this week: the first polls since the announcement of Donald Trump’s corona infection.

My name is Matthijs le Loux. I write about foreign news for NU.nl and have been reporting on American politics since 2014. In this update I give you an overview of the big news of the week, but I mainly cover less obvious developments and ‘side-paths’ and I share facts, interesting sources and short analyzes to give you more context.

It was the week of the debate between the two running mates, Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. (Here you can find our commentaries, in text in statue.)

But, of course, the news was dominated by President Trump’s corona infection, his hospitalization and return to the White House. In this edition of the Election Update we look, among other things, how the American voter reacted to this.

By the way, if you are curious about how the NU.nl editors deal with all the confusion surrounding Trump’s health: I spoke about this earlier on Friday with editor-in-chief Gert-Jaap Hoekman in the Week from NOWpodcast, our public editorial meeting.

President Donald Trump waves to supporters at Walter Reed military hospital. (Photo: ANP)

‘Sickness boost’ remains out for Trump for the time being

One of the first polls in which respondents were able to pass judgment on Trump’s corona contamination, by Reuters/Ipsos, gave little reason to believe he could turn his health condition into a boost for his reelection campaign.

The statement ‘If President Trump had taken the coronavirus more seriously, he probably wouldn’t have gotten infected’ was endorsed by 65 percent of respondents, including nine in ten registered Democrats and five in ten registered Republicans. In an investigation of CNN/SSRS 63 percent of the participants felt that Trump was acting irresponsibly by endangering the health of those around him.

Trump’s behavior during and after his hospital stay was also met with little enthusiasm. In a poll of YouGov 62 percent of respondents said that Trumps ride to wave to his supporters outside the hospital was inappropriate. In another poll by the same research firm, 56 percent of respondents said they consider Trump’s quick return to the White House a bad idea. And in an investigation of Morning Consult/Politico 60 percent said Trump should not have told Americans after returning home that they were don’t have to be afraid for the coronavirus.

However, the question is whether the events since Trump’s corona diagnosis last Friday will have much of an impact on the race score. The vast majority of Americans have already decided who to vote for. Trump popularity ratings In any case, showed little movement last week: they hovered around 43 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval.

How should we look at Biden’s lead?

Systemic errors in polling methods are difficult to spot in time; you don’t know what you’re missing until it becomes clear you missed it – and then you’re too late. That problem was well explained this week in an article on the big data news site Datanami.

That said, Joe Biden’s position appears solid and remarkably stable. He is currently in the lead in the national polls with an average of 10 percentage points. Since the campaign began, his lead has not dipped below 5 percentage points.

If poll errors occur that are as large as they were four years ago, Trump is still heading for defeat, argued The Washington Post this week. That applies to both the national polls like those in the staten.

According to a statistical model of news website FiveThirtyEight Biden currently wins in 85 of 100 simulated elections. The scenario that the outcome will depend on recounts in major swing states occurs in only four out of a hundred simulations.

An important side note is that of course this does not preclude the re-election of the president (because he wins in fifteen out of a hundred cases). We are talking about probability here, not about conclusive predictions.

It is not yet known whether the vice-presidential debate and Trump’s return from hospital will get the race moving again. That will become more apparent in the course of next week.


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Photo: ANP)

Furthermore, NU.nl reported this week …

  • The second election debate between Trump and Biden will take place online due to the corona virus, the organizers decided this week. Trump announced on Thursday to feel nothing for it.
  • The FBI has arrested 13 men who are said to have been the governor of Michigan to kidnap. That was announced on Thursday. The alleged target, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, has come under fire from right-wing protesters for her corona measures. She accuses President Trump of encouraging extremist groups.

What do electors do again?

If you are no longer fully aware of the peculiarities of the American electoral system, then this video is recommended. (And yes, producer Frank had cramps in his fingers for days after recording.)

Hopefully the above question has now been answered, but are there other things you want to know? Next Thursday I can answer your questions live during a Q&A session. On that day we will explain how to submit it in an article on the front page.

Thanks for your attention and see you next week! Do you have a proposal for a topic or other comments? Send an email to matthijs@nu.nl.

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