It May Seem like Trump Will Lose, But Can He Reverse His Fortunes?
The Black Lives Matter Movement May Prove To Be Just What Trump Needs
With the brutal and unlawful killing of George Floyd came the outrage that ensued. More and more Americans came to realize that there was a problem when it came to how African Americans are treated by the criminal justice system. With the outrage came civil unrest that spread throughout the US and even some parts of the world. The Black Lives Matter movement quickly became one of the biggest social movements in US history. However, the movement had its demands. Defunding the police, reparations for slavery, and police reform were ideas that gained momentum within the movement.
Seeing an opportunity to use the riots to paint the movement as violent as a whole, Trump started to paint himself as a law and order candidate. In the 2020 Republican National Convention speech in which he accepted his party's nomination, Mr. Trump said that Novembers vote is a choice between whether or not "the American way of life" will be defended or whether the US will allow a "radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it". Over time approval of the Black Lives Matter movement began to fall as violence became more widespread and divisions grew. This is where Trump's true opportunity lies. If Trump can successfully tie Biden and the Democrats to the movement he may well be able to once again use identity politics to his advantage.
Underneath some of the opposition to the BLM movement exists a type of anxiety among some white Americans about the changing racial demographics of the country. Attacking BLM is nothing but a way for those who have this anxiety to vent it in a way that is deemed more acceptable. And Trump knows this and also knows how to exploit this anxiety too.
Could This Reverse Trump's Fortunes?
Well, if the data is correct then maybe so. A new survey conducted by Marquette Law School found that before the shooting of Jacob Blake support for the movement in Wisconsin had declined by 13 points between June and early August whilst the movements +25 net-positive approval rating had been completely dismantled. This is certainly bad news for the Biden campaign and good news for the Trump camp as Wisconsin is a pivotal state which may just decide the election. Along with the decline in support for Black Lives Matter came Biden's diminishing polling lead over President Trump. A new national poll conducted by The Hill/Harris X found that Biden's lead over Trump had gone from 10 points to 4. With this data, it seems that Trump is successfully narrowing the gap, just like 2016 eh?
But What If It's Detrimental?
The shooting of George Floyd and Jacob Blake may prove to be harmful to Mr. Trump's chances come November...
Picture what would happen if African American voters, motivated by the recent instances of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement that subsequently grew came out in droves to vote against President Trump come November 3rd. high African American turnout was a key factor in Obama's 2008 landslide victory, and if such turnout were replicated this year it could hugely benefit Mr. Biden in states such as Michigan and Georgia. Furthermore, it could also increase young voter turnout too in favor of Mr. Biden. So Trump should also be perhaps worried more than he is hopeful. This is not 2016, and he is now accountable.
"I am your president of law and order" - Donald Trump, June 1st 2020
Trump's Authoritarian Appeal
There is an increasing amount of evidence that American voters are becoming concerned with the recent violence in places such as Kenosha and Portland. A new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 59% of voters found violent crime to be very important in how they vote and the matter is rated the 5th biggest issue in the election whereas, in 2016, it was not even in the top 10. meanwhile, according to the FBI, there has been a surge in gun sales which is evident when you look at the record 3.9m background checks conducted in June.
Trump has criticized the Democrats (especially Biden and Harris) for not speaking out forcefully enough against the rioting and the violence. Trump may be using his law and order message to win over suburban voters, who are a very important and influential voting cohort who may just decide the outcome of the election. currently, Biden is leading nationally in the suburbs, however, if Trump can convince suburban voters that violent scenes being seen in Portland and Kenosha may become widespread under Biden then he may be able to convince those oh so important suburban voters that a vote for him is a vote to keep their families safe.
But Is The Message Resonating With Voters?
Even though a lot of voters do not like the rioting and violence we have seen. Most Americans are more concerned with the coronavirus and how Trump is handling it.
According to a YouGov survey conducted on September 2nd, 2020, 56% of Americans think violence would get worse should he be re-elected compared to the 15% who thought it would stay the same and the 18% who thought it would get better. The same poll also found what 42% said they would feel safer if Biden were to be elected whereas 40% said they would feel unsafer.
The poll also found that 55% of Americans thought that Trump's statements make things worse compared to the 49% of people who said Biden does not make a difference with his statements.
Those Oh So Important Suburbanites
In the 2018 midterm elections, the Democratic party won a sizable majority in the House of Representatives partly due to the historic turnout for the Democrats. Midterm turnout was the highest in 104 years. many suburban voters also helped to flip seats in counties such as Fort Bend, Houston. With polling showing Biden with a huge 16 point lead among suburban voters there is reason to believe that Biden may even do better among those voters. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that only 6% of suburban voters found crime to be their biggest issue whilst healthcare and the economy were top issues both scoring 21% respectively. And as Biden consistently leads on the issue of healthcare and is closing the gap when it comes to the economy, well, this spells trouble for Trump.
So maybe Trump's 'law and order' message may not be resonating all that much with the voters that Trump needs to win over. But if there is anything that we do know its that Mr. Trump is very persuasive. So maybe, if he plays his cards right, Mr. Trump may have an effective campaign message which could help him stun the world once again..