United States President Donald Trump is famously not shy about self-promotion and praise.
But should he win re-election in seven months even after the country has staggered through an economy-busting health emergency, it would truly be a historic achievement.
The US only had 332 cases and 17 Covid-19 deaths just over a month ago. But it now tops worldwide case numbers with more than 312,100 cases and 8500 deaths. It took 66 days for the country to get to 100,000 cases but only five days to then reach 200,000 and a further three days to get to 300,000.
A global scramble for protective medical equipment is underway, with several countries accusing the United States of trying to hijack their orders https://t.co/IvForCEjrL— CNN International (@cnni) April 5, 2020
Critics of Trump's handling of the pandemic argue he hobbled preparedness, ignored warnings, downplayed the threat, was slow to take action and is still fumbling.
Trump has shifted blame onto governors saying "frankly, many of the states were unprepared for this" and veered between sombre warnings and risky impatience to "reopen" America. At least he has finally got across to his supporters that they should take the virus seriously. Some Republican governors have chosen not to issue stay home orders.
The virus is immune to the tactics that have served Trump in the past. It has its own timeline, it dominates the news, it can't be distracted.
Last month, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index — a polling indicator of the U.S. economic mood — recorded its sharpest 2-week drop in 34 years of collecting data https://t.co/dmDHaLZ0nj— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 3, 2020
Neither the virus nor the economic fallout will likely clear by November. Senior US medical official, Dr Anthony Fauci, says a second wave of the virus is likely in the northern autumn. And any vaccine is estimated to be a year away. The pandemic put paid to a very long period of economic growth that began two years after President Barack Obama won election in 2008 amid a financial meltdown during the presidential campaign. This is far worse.
President George W. Bush managed to get re-elected in 2004 as America was fighting two foreign wars, but deaths from the coronavirus have already surpassed US casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Bush's father, George Bush snr, became a one-term president after Bill Clinton made the case in a recession that he was the man for the job.
Aside from highlighting flaws in the health system, Covid-19 is taking a staggering economic toll in the US with at least 10 million already filing for unemployment. The US$2.2 trillion stimulus package passed last month was the biggest intervention ever undertaken by Congress.
NEW: In a speech last year at government-sponsored summit, Trump's top NSC official for biodefense warned of a pandemic threat as what kept him up at night.— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) April 3, 2020
Saying the idea of a pandemic was "the thing we're not prepared for that we should be." https://t.co/yw8rLDNe6y
At present, Trump's job approval and favourability ratings are at the high end of his usual range. Other leaders have received popularity bounces. The worst is yet to hit in the US, and a backlash could follow.
Presidents usually get credit when the economy is performing well, but elections can become a referendum on the incumbent when it isn't.
That's shaping to be the case this time and in his likely opponent former Vice-President Joe Biden, Trump will face someone with experience in dealing with both economic and health crises. While Trump holds daily briefings, Biden is unable to campaign and conducts interviews from his Delaware basement. But he leads Trump by an average of 6 points in RealClearPolitics.com national polls.
There's a long way to go and doubts over the election itself. Will it need to be conducted only by mail ballot, and if not, will turnout be down?
Being the incumbent is usually an advantage, but this is the biggest of big asks.
Thread on what we found: The White House got its first formal notification about coronavirus on Jan 3. Within days, US spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat by including the first of many warnings in the President’s Daily Brief https://t.co/CkZY6LTCME— Yasmeen Abutaleb (@yabutaleb7) April 4, 2020
Trump administration cut pandemic early warning program in September https://t.co/Gs0ty2fMqq— Guardian Australia (@GuardianAus) April 4, 2020
The eight governors who have NOT issued stay-at-home orders 👇— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 4, 2020
Arkansas—Asa Hutchinson (R)
Iowa—Kim Reynolds (R)
Nebraska—Pete Ricketts (R)
North Dakota—Doug Burgum (R)
South Dakota—Kristi Noem (R)
South Carolina—Henry McMaster (R)
Utah—Gary Herbert (R)
Wyoming—Mark Gordon (R)