I live and work in New England. Except for the crazies in the Northwest this is the home base of woke insanity for the country. Even the moderates in New England have drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid. Even the Republicans think like moon bats. Remember Mitt Romney was Governor of Massachusetts.
So, the “normal” people hate Donald Trump with a passion. Mostly they hate him because if they didn’t hate him their neighbors would call them racists, sexists and homophobes. And there is nothing scarier to a New Englander than being called bad names.
For that reason, I shouldn’t have been surprised when a coworker came over to me last week and smirkingly told me that the coronavirus was going to tank the economy and thereby throw the election to Biden. This guy isn’t a flaming liberal. He’s what I’d call an aspiring elitist. He comes from a middle-class background but would like to make the move up a couple of rungs to the outer periphery of the elect. And in order to fit in he has learned the party line and made their platform his.
I wasn’t expecting this from him. After all, hoping the economy crashes doesn’t scream patriotism and in the past he had never seemed unpatriotic. But you live and you learn. My only answer to him was, in a more or less bored manner, to inform him that my money is on Trump and if he wanted a wager, I was always looking to pick up some extra cash.
After the impeachment vote by the House I announced that I no longer considered any other possible outcome from November’s election than President Trump’s re-election. And I continued in that belief up until this week. But my co-worker’s taunt got me thinking. Could the coronavirus pandemic change the outcome of the presidential election? As a theoretical question, the answer is obviously yes. If millions of people died and if millions more were unemployed that could definitely affect the minds of the voters. So, I figured it was a good thing to consider what the reality of the pandemic meant for the election.
Looking at what happened in China and what is happening in Italy it is plain to see that even with draconian measures being taken to limit its spread, globally, tens of thousands of people will die. The impact of those deaths is the political question that needs to be answered. And the answer is that as long as the government is seen to be actively using the best scientific information available to keep the public safe and wasn’t negligent in allowing the introduction of the virus to the country, then there won’t tend to be public anger at a relatively small number of deaths such as several thousand, as long as they do not overwhelm the emergency healthcare system.
With respect to our present situation, there are something less than three thousand cases and about fifty deaths in the United States. These numbers will continue to increase for at least a couple of weeks. But, if at that point, they level off then public opinion on the pandemic won’t cause excessive political trouble for the President.
But what about the economic impact. Multiple industries are being severely impacted by the measures being used to prevent transmission of the disease. Airlines and other means of mass transportation are severely impacted. All forms of mass entertainment from sports games to movies to music concerts are being postponed or cancelled. It’s certain that all restaurants will be at a virtual standstill. Daycare for pre-school age children will be a big problem.
All of these disruptions are going to have a large affect on the economy and employment rates. And in addition, many companies are concerned that the virus may incapacitate or even kill key individuals in their workforce. For this reason, they are instituting fever screening, telecommuting and teleconferencing to limit exposure to the virus among employees. All of these control measures will have a negative effect on the economy. Without any intervention, layoffs and loss of revenue will cause a contraction in the economy that could be quite severe. And that could very easily have an effect on the election.
So, is my co-worker right, will the pandemic necessarily throw the election to Biden? No. What needs to be done is for the President to provide incentives for business owners to hold onto their employees during the business interruptions and some kind of stimulus to offset the losses they are experiencing. And that is exactly what President Trump is attempting. Eliminating the payroll tax for employers and employees until the end of the year would be an enormous stimulus to the economy. Trying to get it through the House will be very difficult. But just trying to get it passed may be enough to shift the blame to the Democrats. And within a state of emergency possibly an executive action could accomplish what the Congress won’t. And there are other measures that he can institute to target help to the particular industries hardest hit. The one that immediately comes to mind is the airline industry. With bans on travel to both Europe and Asia in place it isn’t hard to imagine that the always vulnerable airlines could head into bankruptcy almost overnight.
To sum it up, it will be necessary for President Trump to carefully oversee the federal and local disease control measures in place to ensure that health impact from COVID-19 is limited. And he will have to act decisively and effectively to limit the economic impact of the pandemic on the US economy. If he performs these two assignments competently, and based on his track record I anticipate he will, then he should be able to win re-election against the visibly decrepit and clearly demented Creepy Uncle Joe Biden.