The Bulwark Presents
The Triad by JVL

The Death of Trump’s Illusions

This is what a dead campaign walking looks like.
June 22, 2020
Featured Image
Well. Bye. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

1. The Stench of Death

It is impossible—not “difficult,” but “impossible”—to look at Trump’s reelection campaign and find any positive indicators.

  • The president’s job approval has never been higher than 47 percent and is currently in the low 40s.
  • He has trailed Joe Biden in all but four of the polls taken this cycle. Go look.
  • He is being out-fundraised by Biden.
  • Unemployment is above 13 percent.
  • 120,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus.
  • The right-track/wrong-track number now stands at -41.
  • And then there are those empty seats.

This is what a campaign in free-fall looks like.

Back on June 8, I cautioned that the hour was later than you think, that there were only 20 weekend left until Election Day during which Trump would have to stop his decline, find a floor, reverse the direction of the race, and then make up a large deficit.

That’s a lot of work to do in 20 weekends.

Well, 10 percent of that runway is now gone. And Trump has gotten worse.

There is no better here.

There will be firings from Trump’s campaign. There will be more coronavirus deaths. There will be debates against Biden that will not go well for Trump. (Trust me on this. Biden is an effective debater who has lots of recent practice. Trump hasn’t won a debate since the early 2016 primaries.)

Donald Trump is the most unpopular president to run for reelection in our lifetimes.

He began his reelection effort already in the hole by 3 million votes.

The environment is—objectively—terrible for incumbents.

And Trump has trailed the challenger by a larger and more consistent margin than any president in the history of modern polling.

There’s a line in the NYT‘s postmortem of the Tulsa debacle that jumped out at me: “President Trump and several staff members stood backstage and gazed at the empty Bank of Oklahoma Center in horror.”

What did they think this moment was going to look like?

2. Correction

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

On Friday I wrote about Confederate monuments and brand icons and I lumped Col. Sanders in with Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. Here’s what I said:

The first thing that bugged me about the Colonel was that he looked like Boss Hog and guys like that are never good. But it was only in middle school that I first asked myself, “What a minute. In what military outfit did Sanders achieve the rank of colonel?”

Sanders sure doesn’t look like an Air Force guy to me. We’re glorifying a guy who fought for the Confederacy as a brand icon for a national fast food chain? I think I was 13 when this first started to bug me.

I hope he’s next.