Will Donald Trump be re-elected the President of the United States? With the party conventions around the corner, the head-to-head race is moving into top gear. The strategies that each candidate will implement are now coming into fruition. What can we expect from the campaigns and what will be the winning combination of strategy and policy?
July 27th marked 100 days before the 2020 United States Presidential Election. National poll averages from July 27th show Joe Biden with an average lead of 8.2%, and even Texas is a toss-up. Preparing for the final push, Democrats have been keeping busy: the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force released recommendations for six key policy areas, which was used as a blueprint to draft the Democratic Party’s platform.
The final amendments were adopted by campaign-appointed standing platform committee members. In the following weeks, the platform will be adopted and Joe Biden confirmed as the Democratic Presidential Candidate by over 4,000 virtual delegates. But, what exactly are the Democrats up against? As the election season heats up, what are President Trump’s priorities and approaches?
On Sunday, July 19th, Fox News journalist Chris Wallace interviewed Trump outside the White House. The 40-minute exclusive interview provided an in-depth look into Trump’s view on the coronavirus, the Democrats, racism, the media, the 2020 election, and major policy issues. Prohibited from giving his signature campaign speeches for the time being, the President used this opportunity to broadcast his recurring talking points and policy proposals.
America first, world second
„No country has ever done what we’ve done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world.“– President Donald Trump
Whether the ability to test for the coronavirus or having „the best mortality rate“, the President argued adamantly that the United States is handling the current pandemic better than any other country in the world. Responsibility was averted by continuing to insinuate China is at fault, as „they should have never let it escape“; and that the pandemic would have been much worse, alluding that Mexicans would have brought the virus to the US if he had not thankfully built most of the wall on the border to Mexico.
His core America First message has remained intact and will continue to shape responses to international crises, with consequences ranging from withdrawing from the World Health Organization and not collaborating with other nations against the climate crisis.
A battle on the right for narrative and the truth
„The Fox polls, whoever does your Fox polls, they’re among the worst. They got it all wrong in 2016. They’ve been wrong on every poll I’ve ever seen.“– President Donald Trump
The interview was one of the more challenging and direct journalistic encounters that Trump has faced from Fox News – a station which has traditionally supported Republican causes and particularly, Trump. He was fact-checked to be incorrect by the post-production team on statements he made, including on if the Democratic platform proposes to defund the police (it does not).
After being shown a clip of himself, he doubled down without any evidence that children are being taught to hate the United States at school. Whatever friendship there was between Fox News and Trump seems to be dwindling away, as he stated: „I’m not a big fan of ‘Fox,’ I’ll be honest with you. They’ve changed a lot since Roger Ailes“.
The day after the interview, the President prominently advocated wearing a mask for the first time. Several days later, the Republican National Convention was abruptly cancelled. With the pandemic’s end nowhere in sight and with Republicans beginning to differ on how to respond to the crisis, the President struck a new tone.
As Donald Trump balances talking to his political base and the general public, he will aim different messages on the current public health crisis. However, it remains unclear if this mixed-messaging coalition will be large enough to bring him a victory.
Building a bottom-up movement based on trust
The Chris Wallace interview and the subsequent days emphasized three factors crucial to the November elections: (1) the incumbent will expand upon his nativist policies by situating them within the context of the pandemic, (2) will certainly challenge and accuse the media, even Fox News, and (3) will deliver inconsistent messaging on the issues most important to the people of the United States.
Trump’s policies and strategies should be clear at this point: false statements and accusations will dominate his campaign. To counteract this, Democrats and progressive actors must continue to build trust in their institutions and candidates, by listening, engaging, and incorporating communities in political processes across the country. An up and down the ballot victory for the Democrats is possible; yet they first need to win the debate on trust.