Trump sidelined by virus as campaign enters final weeks

ORLANDO, Fla. — Half a million Floridians have already voted, and early voting doesn’t start for another two weeks.

Election Day has become Election Month and with just four weeks until November 3, polls show a stable race with Joe Biden still on the trail and President Donald Trump sidelined by coronavirus.

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“This is a significant setback for the trump campaign,” says former GOP staffer Jim Swift of the Bulwark. “The President likes to do these rallies and not being able to do it for up to two weeks is going to change things.”

On Friday, the Trump Campaign canceled its planned rally at the Sanford Airport, it also canceled a Saturday event in Kissimmee.  Then, over the weekend, the Trump Campaign held a press call to discuss its plans going forward, including a series of events featuring Vice President Mike Pence.

“I don’t know that there’s a great way to overcome that,” says Florida-based GOP consultant Jacob Perry.  “President Trump’s greatest positive attribute on the campaign trail is his energy, it’s his live performances, it’s him being on stage being Donald Trump, and there literally is no replacement for that.”

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The news of the President’s hospitalization for COVID-19 comes as the Biden Campaign is continuing its campaign including a series of events in the Midwest and a trio of events in Florida on Monday.

While the Biden Campaign has paused its attack ads while Trump is in the hospital, it has sought to draw a contrast from its style of socially-distanced events and mask use to the President’s large rallies and reluctance to wear a mask in public.

“Everyone was hitting him on not wearing a mask and the White House’s lax policy, well we’ve seen what happens the virus is the enemy and the enemy gets a vote,” says Swift.  “The question is now how seriously is Donald Trump the coronavirus patient going to take this.”

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When President Trump returns to the campaign trail he will do so having slipped in the polls.  According to the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, Joe Biden has increased his lead since the first presidential debate from +6.1 to +8.5.  In Florida he has gone from +1.2 before the debate to and average of +2.0 since.

Complicating matters for President Trump are a series of polls finding Americans believe President Trump’s infection was a result of his own actions.  A Reuters/Ipsos poll found, “two-thirds of Americans believe that if President Trump had taken coronavirus/COVID-19 more seriously, he probably would not have been infected.” With a Yahoo News YouGov poll finding 52% of voters not trusting the President to give accurate information about his health.