Trump goes to war on multiple fronts as older and women voters flee

Analysis: Expect more threats of punishment, retaliation and tough talk from this wounded political animal as key voters swing to Joe Biden

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 29 May 2020 16:51 BST
Fox News's Laura Ingraham says Trump can identify with George Floyd protesters

Donald Trump is in trouble, trailing former Vice President Joe Biden nationally and in most key swing states. He's lost – for now, at least – older voters and white educated women.

The president appears to know his road to a second term is going to be winding and uphill. So he is, once again, following his instincts. And they always tell him one thing: Fight.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll put Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, up nationally 50 per cent to 39 per cent, over the incumbent. But national polls are only a starting point.

Averages of polls in swing states compiled by RealClearPolitics give Mr Biden a lead in seven of 10 expected battleground states. The former VP leads, on average, by 4.4 percentage points in those seven states.

But more instructive is to note the swings in those swing states – voters who supported Mr Trump in 2016 are swinging towards Mr Biden in the states experts say will decide the election.

For instance, Mr Trump won Michigan by 4 points over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- now he trails Mr Biden there by 5.5 points. Mr Trump won Arizona by more than 3 percentage points last time, but now trails Mr Biden by 4 points, according to the RealClear average.

Then there's Pennsylvania: The president won the Keystone State by just under 1 percentage point four years ago. He now trails the former VP, who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, by 6.5 points.

"What does the 11-point Biden lead tell us? At best for Team Trump, it says voter confidence in President Trump is shaky. At worst for them, as coronavirus cases rise, Trump's judgement is questioned – and November looms," says Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.

So Mr Trump is doing what he does, playing the role of political fisherman. He sets the bait. And his opponents and critics, yet again, have taken it.

Twitter executives and Chinese leaders, like so many before them, just could not resist the chum on the hooks Mr Trump tossed into the water. For Mr Trump, being president includes doling out punishment to anyone who has slighted him.

So he wants to "regulate" Twitter after it posted a fact check link on some of his tweets then deleted one very early on Friday morning.

"They have points of view and if we go by that, it's actually amazing that there was a success in 2016, but we can't let this continue to happen. It's very, very unfair," he told reporters on Thursday. "The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress, edit, blacklist, shadowban are editorial decisions pure and simple. Their editorial decisions. In those moments, Twitter ceases to be a neutral public platform and they become an editor with a viewpoint."

Mr Trump rarely acts out of anything but political instinct and survival. So as Mr Trump continued on Friday morning to criticise Twitter, by posting tweets, he also was gearing up to retaliate against China.

He and other White House officials say the government in Beijing failed to inform the world about coronavirus going public there, then allowing people to travel the globe who likely were infected. He has promised retaliation for weeks, and promises to deliver just that Friday afternoon.

"China should have stopped it at the source but they didn't do that so great numbers along the border and, really record low numbers," he said. "We are going to be having a press conference on China [on Friday]. So we will be making certain decisions and we will be discussing them tomorrow."

Those rioters and looters in Minneapolis who are protesting the death of another black man, George Floyd, at the hands of white police officers? Also being threatened with punishment.

"These THUGS are dishonouring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!" Mr Trump wrote in a tweet that has been hidden on Twitter but can still be viewed.

Threats of punishment, retaliation, and tough talk.

Mr Trump is a wounded political animal. He's lashing out daily. What choice does he have, even as his critics warn of a chilling effect on the First Amendment and increased violence in Minneapolis and other cities? One former White House official has some advice: Expect Mr Trump's antics to ramp up as the election nears.

"We are going to have a lot of long days before 7.08am between now and the end of this year," tweeted Walter Schaub, former White House ethics czar, as the sun rose over Washington. "Things are going to get worse quickly, folks."

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