Trump bruised when polls favor Biden, but experts warn of risk of dirty tricks | United States News

meIt was the death of a seller. With his tie undone and the crumpled cap of “Make America Great Again” in hand, Donald Trump cut a sad figure lurching through the south yard of the White House on his return from his failed return in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some observers compared him to Willy Loman, the tragic protagonist of Arthur Miller’s landmark drama.

The US President, critics say, has spent years selling an invoice for goods to the American people. Now they are no longer buying.

Scarce attendance in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last weekend was the physical manifestation of what is shown survey after survey: Trump is following his Democratic rival Joe Biden by double digits and apparently on the way to a historic defeat in the presidential election of November.

But seasoned commentators warn against complacency. Trump still has time to defend himself, and fight dirty.

“You look at the polls and you think ‘he can’t win,'” tweeted Bill Kristol, who served in two Republican administrations. “But Trump’s path to victory does not depend on persuading Americans. It depends on voter suppression, mass disinformation, foreign interference, and the blatant use of executive power to shape events and perceptions this fall. “

It was a reminder that the polls only tell part of any electoral history. In 2016, Trump almost always seemed to be heading for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. This time, the polls seem to point to a Biden landslide. The former vice president leads Trump by 14 percentage points in a national poll of registered voters conducted by the New York Times and Siena College.

As expected, the poll showed Biden well ahead of African American and Hispanic women, youth, and voters. Alarmingly for the President, Biden had also reached the level among white voters, male voters, and middle-aged and older voters, generally the pillars of Trump’s support. This and many other polls also show that Trump is unwell in six decisive states that are likely to decide the top electoral college.

Earlier this year, Trump was confident of victory, but research suggests that voters are punishing him for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, exacerbation of the economic crisis, and violent response to Black Lives Matter protests. This week he continued to minimize the virus and organized campaign events with few facial masks and little physical distance, even as the national death toll exceeded 120,000 and the infection rate soared to the highest level since April.

But Trump’s enemies have learned to dismiss him at his own risk. Once he bragged that he could kill someone on Fifth Avenue in New York and not lose voters. It still has the significant advantages of incumbency and, opponents say, of having no problems of moral conscience: the president will stop at nothing to cling to power.

Kristol, general editor of the Bulwark website and director of the defense organization Defending Democracy Together, said in an interview: “The special circumstances with Trump are his complete abandonment of any restrictions and even more importantly, perhaps, having people around him. We have abandoned any restrictions on how they will use the federal government, the executive branch, to say things, do things, pretend to do things.

“Richard Nixon did a little bit of that in 1972, and of course presidents always promote good news in the months leading up to the election. But this time, it’s the degree to which you could have a real sustained effort to suppress minority voting and not make it easier for young people to vote.

“It is the degree to which he could have foreign intervention and also Trump’s complicity, not in the sense of coordinating, but simply welcoming him and making it easier.” It’s the degree to which you could make Putin decide if he wants Trump to be reelected. give Trump a ‘foreign policy victory’ weeks before the election, which will turn out to be a true victory months later. ”

Kristol added: “It is the use of loyalists in the office of the Director of National Intelligence and, to some extent, in the state department and the justice department. It is the degree to which we will receive ‘new’ news about Biden and [his son] Hunter Biden, more or less based on something but exaggerated and trumpeted and on Fox News.

“If you put all of that together and you have a circumstance where someone is really shameless and many of the normal limitations have been weakened, it’s conceivable that the reluctant 2016 Trump voter who has become a reluctant voter of Biden in 2020 will come back to be reluctant Trump Voter. That’s what worries me the most. “

Trump at the BOK Center in Tulsa last week.

Trump at the BOK Center in Tulsa last week. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

Voter suppression has haunted the U.S. election for decades, but the pandemic presents Trump with new opportunities. States are looking for a massive expansion of mail-in ballots so that people don’t risk their health by queuing and voting in person. The President has intensified claims that this will lead to widespread cheating, despite several studies showing that electoral fraud is extremely rare.


His wild words are often backed by organizational muscle and action. The Republican National Committee has dedicated $ 20 million to oppose Democratic demands across the country seeking to expand the vote. Republicans also reportedly aim to recruit up to 50,000 people in 15 key states to serve as poll watchers and challenge voter registration who they believe are ineligible.

Monika McDermott, professor of political science at Fordham University in New York, said: “What we are seeing in some primary states is the closing of polling places in African-dominated areas and the erroneous purge of Democrats from the voter lists. Some of this is anecdotal, but still worrisome. And, without a doubt, it will continue during the general elections. ”

Only two acting presidents have been defeated for re-election since World War II: Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush. Trump has the advantages of the stalker pulpit, the support of Fox News and other conservative media, a large data collection operation and more effective than Biden. He is traveling the country, throwing virus caution into the winds, as the Democrat remains largely confined to his basement.

But critics fear the president may also bend the state apparatus in his favor, pointing to the loyalty of officials such as Attorney General Bill Barr, who ordered security forces to use tear gas against peaceful protesters outside the White House to your boss could organize a photo shoot. .

Trump has repeatedly asserted an unfounded conspiracy theory called “Obamagate,” alleging that former President Barack Obama and Biden fabricated false allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia in a “coup” to deny him the White House. He could put pressure on Barr and Republicans in Congress to focus on this, as well as the business activities of Biden’s son Hunter in Ukraine as election day approaches.

Lawrence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, said: “You could announce, perhaps without any basis, in mid-October that a new vaccine was found, and you could put pressure on the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]approve it and that could interfere with voting. It could get help of the kind that has already asked China and Russia to interfere with the vote. “

“You could be involved in conspiratorial vote suppression where multiple people are prevented from voting for a sudden announcement that there is a spike in the coronavirus in certain jurisdictions.” The power he has as president to manipulate the votes cast, and on top of that, to launch challenges where his manipulation has not been successful enough is enormously broad. “

Tribe added: “If we don’t know anything else about this man, we know that his priorities are completely personal and narcissistic. We know that you are not concerned with the stability or security of the country and, given that set of psychological realities, it would take a much more iron-clad process than we have to guarantee any degree of confidence that we will have a calm and peaceful life. transition to a new president next January.

Another of Kristol’s caveats is about foreign interference.

Special Adviser Robert Mueller identified 272 contacts between Trump’s 2016 campaign team and agents linked to Russia, including at least 38 meetings. Last year, when asked by ABC News if he would be mad at an opponent from a foreign source, the president frankly said, “I think he would take it.”

Trump was indicted for asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden on unsubstantiated charges in exchange for $ 400 million in military aid. And in his new memory, former national security adviser John Bolton alleges that Trump pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him be re-elected by buying more American agricultural products.

Neil Sroka, spokesman for the progressive group Democracy for America, said: “We already know that he has actively requested the help of a foreign government in these Bolton book elections.”

And concerns persist that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are still doing very little to remove overseas-based accounts that spread disinformation aimed at dividing Americans and potentially helping Trump.

Sroka added: “I don’t think we have any reason to believe that foreign actors succeed in meddling in our voting systems, which means that the way they have an impact is through disinformation and trying to increase divisions within from ourselves”. . That’s another reason why it’s so important that we make sure we win big. “

Marked by 2016, Democrats know that their biggest threat could be complacency, especially among younger voters who might decide to stay home on a rainy day and not get to vote. Biden, who conducted a virtual fundraiser with Obama this week, tweeted: “Ignore the polls. Register to vote. “

With four months to go, anything could happen.

Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist based in Columbia, South Carolina, agreed that Trump should not be underestimated. “We should adopt the philosophy that there is no education in the second kick of the mule,” he said.

“If someone finds success in something before, they will try to use those same ingredients to find success again. He is willing to do, say, have and be a part of anything that positions him to get to the finish line first, even if it means doing what is not best for the long term in this country. ”