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Trump faces uphill battle 100 days to go until election

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump faces an uphill battle exactly 100 days to go until the election, with Americans increasingly disapproving of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy. 

In recent days, Trump has changed his strategy on the coronavirus as national polls show Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, leading the Republican incumbent in key battleground states.

More Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction than at any point during Trump's first term in office , putting the president in a perilous position as he enters the final stretch of the campaign.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has found that Trump’s approval rating for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his standing on the economy have fallen to new lows.

About a third of Americans, 32 percent, now support the president’s response to the health crisis, while 38 percent approve of the state of the national economy, down from 67 percent in January.

Biden’s team is eager to make sure that the final months of the campaign are focused on Trump’s approach to COVID-19 and the economy, believing that the former vice president can win the Nov. 3 election if the contest is a referendum on the president.

“People are sick and tired of a government that is divided and broken and unable to get things done,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, told the New York Times.

“What people feel like they’re getting from Trump right now is a hodgepodge mess of self-interested political talk,” he added.

The political headwinds have prompted Trump and the White House to attempt to change the trajectory of the race through a shift in tone about the pandemic, which has killed nearly 150,000 people and infected over 4 million. 

After spending months playing down the virus and ignoring expert advice, Trump warned last week that the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better and urged Americans to wear masks.

The president also announced that he would cancel a large campaign convention in August after insisting that he would press forward with the plan.

Trump’s abrupt about-face underscores the realization within his campaign that the outcome of the election will most likely be determined by the voters’ perception of the federal response to the pandemic.

The president is also gambling that voters will eventually grow tired of the unrest on streets and embrace his “law-and-order” message as he dispatches federal troops to Democratic-controlled cities experiencing violent protests.

Republicans remain confident that Trump will get his stride back once Biden is forced into the spotlight with the three face-to-face presidential debates that begin in the fall.

At the moment, however, every major campaign metric puts Democrats in an advantageous position in the race.

Biden has managed to consolidate the Democratic Party in ways Democrats struggled to do in 2016 and his lead over Trump remains well above the margin of error in four of the six key battleground states, namely Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Biden’s fundraising, a weakness for him in the primary season, has also surged, allowing his campaign to increase spending in both battleground states and more ambitious targets, such as Texas and Georgia.

On the GOP side, President Trump has seen his support erode among the groups that propelled him to victory in 2016, including senior and white working-class voters.

The president’s political aides warn that he could lose the Midwestern battlegrounds he carried in 2016, even some solid red states, if the current trajectory of both his campaign and the coronavirus continues unabated.

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