New York, NY: As the final 100 days of the 2020 presidential campaign unwind, we will be watching a battle for the White House unlike anything we have witnessed. The contest will be waged amid unprecedented uncertainty.
Will the coronavirus be raging, ebbing or somewhere in between? Will the economy be back on track or sinking further? How secure will voting be? What attempts to influence the vote will we see from Russia, China or other adversaries? What types of campaigning will the candidates be able to do? And what will Donald Trump have up his sleeve? There are dozens of questions.
Uncertainty clouds any answers, but one message from the Trump camp is clearly emerging: “Ignore the death toll from COVID-19.” You will never hear it said out loud, but, above all else, it is the takeaway Trump & Co. want everyone to understand. We are likely to see this theme carried through to the November vote.
The strategy has been on display of late during Trump’s reinstated White House coronavirus press briefings. This much discussed “pivot” has spun him from minimizing the disease to an attempt to sell the “success” of his Administration’s response to the pandemic. It employs a fusillade of numbers about testing, masks, gowns, ventilators, drug doses and other statistics to distract from the relentless rise in the count of Americans who have died during the pandemic.
As August begins, that number is approaching 160,000. No one knows what the death toll will be by November, but I think COVID-19 fatalities will be the ONLY number that matters when voters go to the polls.