U.S. media in recent days have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases in some southern U.S. states, development that could bode ill for U.S. President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election, experts said.
The U.S. state of Florida on Saturday reported 9,585 new cases. South Carolina, Texas, Nevada and Georgia also reported record or near-record numbers of cases over the weekend, although this could be a reflection of increased testing. Experts said the spike could impact Trump’s chances of re-election. “It keeps the issue live and probably makes people question the federal response to date. If it leads to another round of shutdowns, I think people get angry and wonder why they did the first round if they’re doing it all over again now. Angry voters are rarely good for an incumbent,” Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua. “Second, many of the southern and southwestern states experiencing surges are ones that did not have many cases when everything started in March. So after feeling like they were spared the worst of it, they’re now finding themselves getting clobbered. I suspect the psychological impact of that is, again, not good for an incumbent,” Galdieri said.
Trump could be harmed simply by the fact that the virus hit the United States under his watch. That could lead — rightly or wrongly — to the public blaming Trump for the spike in the virus cases. “The more who die, the more difficult it will be for him to persuade voters he deserves a second term,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua. U.S. presidents often get poor poll results when the economy is in the doldrums. “The economy remains weak, which also helps to explain why (Democratic candidate Joe) Biden has such a major lead right now,” West said, referring to polls that put Trump far behind his rival.
The nation’s massive jobless rate — the highest since the Great Depression — was caused by the government’s unprecedented lockdown, which took place even in states where coronavirus cases were not high.”A large number of voters lack confidence in Trump and it is hard to see what is going to change those perceptions over the next few months,” West said. Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O’Connell told Xinhua that virus spikes come and go, and it is tough to know what that means for November.”The triple whammy of the virus, the pandemic-induced weakened economy and the recent social unrest have hurt Trump’s standing in the polls. But it is certainly recoverable for Trump with a little more than four months to go,” O’Connell said. “Trump’s greatest problem with the virus is that he likes to frequently change the subject, but the virus doesn’t want to change the subject,” Clay Ramsay, a senior research associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at University of Maryland, told Xinhua.