It's the pandemic, stupid

Published October 29, 2020

By Thomas Mills

Back in 1992, James Carville taped a sign on the wall of the Bill Clinton campaign that read, “It’s the economy, Stupid!” This year, he updated the slogan to “It’s the pandemic, Stupid!” Carville is right: the pandemic is the key driver of voters this year. 

Republicans are clearly on the wrong side of the electorate on this issue and may pay a huge price at the ballot box. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows hoisted the white flag, teilling CNN’s Jake Tapper, “We are not going to control the pandemic.” So far, the Trump administration has not even tried. Instead, they have downplayed the virus and lied about its spread. Trump has said numerous times in the past week that we’ve “turned the corner,” when, in fact, we are seeing spikes across the country, just like public health officials predicted. In some areas, hospitals are getting overwhelmed. 

Trump supporters don’t believe the virus is real and a lot of rank-and-file Republicans believe the response has been overblown. That’s not what most people believe, especially older voters. The number of cases is up and more than 1,000 people are dying per day. The long-term damage of COVID is just coming to light. People are very concerned about the spread and damage of the disease even if Trump is not.

 The president and his campaign are still holding large rallies, despite outbreaks associated with them.  Vice-president Mike Pence is still on the campaign trail even though five people in his office have tested positive. All of this occurs even though the president and more than 20 other people were infected at a Rose Garden event last month. It’s as if they don’t care. 

In the Senate, Mitch McConnell spent the weeks leading up to the election ramming through a Supreme Court nominee instead of negotiating a COVID relief bill. He adjourned the Senate without passing a bill, snubbing his nose at families and business suffering from the disease and its impact. Senator Thom Tillis is home, traveling the state as if nothing is happening. Like other Senators, he’s flaunting his disdain for safety precautions at largely maskless events that shun social distancing. 

 In the wake of the Rose Garden COVID party and Trump’s diagnosis, Republicans took a hit in the polls. Instead of heading this warning sign, Trump doubled down, going on the road less than two weeks after his diagnosis and telling people the disease isn’t that bad since he, Melania, and his son, Barron, had all recovered with few problems. With the Senate adjourning until after the election and the recent Pence outbreak, the polls seem to be tanking again. Texas and Georgia are now considered a toss-ups. Jon Ossoff appears to have taken a narrow lead in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia. Democrats are competing in places like Kansas.

People believe one of the core responsibilities of government is to keep them safe. They don’t just mean safe from other people. They mean safe from natural disasters and pandemics, too. The GOP either doesn’t understand that or is in denial about it. Regardless, polls show they are taking another hit as the election nears. Biden’s margin is widening, not closing.