Donald Trump tosses masks into the crowd as he arrives for a campaign rally in Florida this week. -AP
With more than 18 million votes already cast, Donald Trump is struggling to find a coherent closing argument for the US presidential election as opinion polls put him in danger of humiliating defeat by Democrat Joe Biden.Long queues have formed across the country for early in-person voting, a sign that this year could see a record turnout in spite, or perhaps because, of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 215,000 Americans and put millions out of work, reports Guardian.
But there could still be surprises before election day on 3 November and fears persist that, in the event of a Biden victory, Trump could plunge the world's oldest constitutional democracy into crisis by disputing the result in court, spreading conspiracy theories online and mobilizing militant supporters in the streets.
Biden leads by 17 percentage points in an Opinium Research/ Guardian poll, 16 points in a CNN poll, and 11 points in an NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll. The last incumbent president to suffer such deficits was the last incumbent president to lose: George HW Bush, beaten by Bill Clinton in 1992. Biden's consistent advantage includes the crucial swing states that will decide the all-important electoral college and raises the prospect that Democrats could regain the White House and Senate and expand their majority in the House of Representatives.
"Trump's going to get killed," said Joe Walsh, a former congressman who unsuccessfully challenged the president in this year's Republican primary. "I think we'll know election night that he lost. Republicans are going to lose the Senate. It's probably going to be the highest turnout in a hundred years in this country and it's going to be a bloodbath for Republicans."
Trump appears to be haemorrhaging support among two crucial voting blocs. One is elderly people, who were crucial to his victory over Hillary Clinton in states such as Florida in 2016. Walsh added: "One of the big stories that we'll all analyze after this election will be that Trump lost older voters in this country."He beat Hillary when it came to older voters but Biden will win them by a healthy amount because they think Trump is a fucking lunatic who screwed up this pandemic big time and a bunch of older Americans died."
The other group deserting Trump is suburban women, apparently rejecting his vulgar insults and shows of machismo regarding the virus. With a hint of desperation this week at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the president begged: "Suburban women, will you please like me? Please, please. I saved your damned neighborhood, OK?"
Trump had appeared confident of re-election at the start of the year based on his economic record but Covid-19, and his persistent downplaying of it, wreaked havoc. The president himself was hospitalized with the virus earlier this month but has since recovered and is back on the campaign trail.
But his rallies do not soak up media coverage like they used to, with some commentators suggesting that the carnival barker act, so novel in 2016, has become routine and even boring. His need to hold them in states such as Iowa and Georgia, traditionally safe Republican territory, suggest he is on the defensive. Speaking in North Carolina on Thursday, he pointed skywards and joked: "We need help from the boss."
Biden, a former senator who was Barack Obama's vice-president from 2009 to 2017, came from behind to win the Democratic primary nomination and, amid America's interlocking health, economic and racial crises, has maintained a remarkably steady poll lead over Trump. His low-key campaign with far smaller events appears to be working.
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