A consensus seems to be emerging that Donald Trump is going to lose the Presidency of the United States in November. Frequently voiced in the spirit of hope, rather than analysis, the President's numerous critics are now slavering at the possibility of finally writing him off. I wouldn't be so fast.
It is true that the numbers are looking bad for him. Last Sunday, in an interview conducted by Chris Wallace for Fox News, the latest poll results were offered to the President. These included a new poll, conducted by Fox, which showed the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, leading Trump by 8 per cent. The poll showed Biden ahead of Trump on numerous issues, including on the economy.
Trump knows that this figure, above all others, is a disaster for him. Before the coronavirus hit, there was a piece of received wisdom about how Trump might be re-elected. The path to a second term seemed to rely on two things above all: on his not leading America into any new wars, and on the US economy continuing to grow. On both Trump was succeeding. The economy continued to boom and, in spite (or because) of some aggressive rhetoric, Trump has actually proved to be the least interventionist President of recent times. It was all looking good.
And then the virus hit – from China, as the President likes to remind us. An economy that had been going gangbusters was suddenly turned off like economies around the world. It is understandable Trump would feel some bitterness about this. The thing was out of his hands, as it was for leaders worldwide. Still, a President who spent three and a half years taking personal responsibility whenever the stock market and employment rates soared cannot cavil overmuch when the public give him some responsibility for the rough as well as the smooth.
Of course Trump's critics also insist that under his leadership America has failed to an extent that other countries have not. All of this is heavily contested terrain. For while in most democracies there was some degree of political ceasefire over the handling of the coronavirus, in America the fact the country was in an election year meant any ceasefire didn't last a second.
While publics in Britain, Australia and Germany broadly speaking agreed from the outset that their leaders were doing their best, no such pax ever broke out in America. The virus death tolls, every aspect of mask-ology and more has all been used as a tool to bash or extol Trump.
The obvious reason for this is the hugely divisive nature of Trump and the Trump era. His opponents could not have dreamed of a better means to get him out of office than the American economy actually having to be shut down. Indeed, so eager are they to get him out that some Democrats give the impression that they would be happy to continue to crash the whole US and global economies just so long as Trump's hands can be prised from the desk in the Oval Office.
But one giant opportunity has been handed to Trump. And, being a man of shark-like senses, he will not let it go to waste. That is the opportunity that the Left has handed him through its response to the shocking killing of George Floyd two months ago now.
The legitimate expression of outrage that followed the killing in Minnesota did not last long before its crazier elements began to take hold. Within days, the narrative had slipped from "These were outrageous actions by specific policemen" to "The American police have a problem in their entirety". From there it was the work of a moment to fall into the current slogans of the radical Left: "All cops are b-----s" and "Defund the police". It is easy enough for campaigning radicals to think that the public is on their side in such a moment. The vast majority of Americans were appalled by what happened in Minnesota as much as were publics worldwide. But in that moment of opportunity the Left significantly overplayed their hand.
As the murder rate in Chicago has rocketed, gun crime in New York has doubled each week and looting and other lawlessness has broken out in cities across the country, the American public have got the smallest taste of what society would be like if the police were indeed not there. They may be keeping quiet and keeping their heads low – for fear of the worst imaginable accusations being made against them – but they have not changed their minds on this.
Likewise in the wake of Minnesota the Left chose to run as far and fast as they could on their interpretation of American history. Within days, the anti-racism movement moved from assaulting statues of Confederates to assaulting statues of Christopher Columbus. And then down came the Founding Fathers too.
"Thomas Jefferson, George Washington – nothing but slave owners," said the radicals. Elsewhere a majority of self-identified liberals polled said that they believed the US Constitution should be rewritten. Again the rest of the country has held its tongue, but it is watching, and listening and I for one would be amazed if they like what they are hearing.
Clearly this is Trump's instinct too. In his Mount Rushmore and 4th of July speeches, he made sure to address this simmering and not completely silent majority. He expressed pride in America where the Left has expressed nothing but judgementalism and contempt. He expressed his belief in law and order and his respect for the US military and law enforcement. Each time he does anything like this the Left gets crazier and goes crazier in its claims. All of which works beautifully for Trump.
"Fake news" was how – perhaps predictably – the President waved away the polls that Chris Wallace waved before him last weekend. But he may yet be right. Not that the pollsters are making it up, but that they are not reaching the people who will decide this election. Or that some of the people they are reaching are not willing to tell the pollsters the truth.
That is the impression of Debbie Dingell, a member of the House of Representatives for Michigan and one of the few Democrats who saw the first Trump victory coming. Then, as now, the wise-guys wrote the Donald off. They laughed at him, derided him and could not believe that the general public would vote him in. And yet they did. And as Dingell said this week: "I don't trust polling. I don't believe that Biden is 16 points up in Michigan."
Dingell also quoted an anonymous message she had received from a voter: "I used to think I was pretty much just a regular person. But I was born white into a two-parent household, which now labels me as privileged, racist, and responsible for slavery. I'm a fiscal and moral conservative, which by today's standards makes me a fascist because I plan a budget. But I now find out that I'm not here because I earned it, but because I was advantaged ... I think and I reason, and I doubt much of what the mainstream media tells me, which makes me a Right-wing conspiracy nut. I'm proud of my heritage and our inclusive American culture. It makes me a xenophobe."
This is the voice of the forgotten, silent, overlooked voter of 2016. Dingell sees it happening again now. "Trump is energising his base," she says. And she is right. Both sides will be energising their base. And each – being energised – will energise each other. Can Trump be written off? The polls say probably. Should he be written off? Not yet.
• Douglas Murray is the author of "The Madness of Crowds".