A Masked Trump

Poor management of the pandemic threatens the reelection of the Republican president, who is trying to save himself.

Pressured by the erosion of his popularity and chances of reelection, President Donald Trump has reacted with a change in his behavior.

This showy behavior was on display Monday, July 20, when the Republican president shared an image in which he appears wearing a mask for COVID-19 protection, something he had resisted doing for months.

Accompanying the photograph, the president posted a message in his own style, mixing encouragement to use facial protection with nationalistic exhortations, xenophobic provocations and narcissistic self-promotion.

“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!” he tweeted.

On the same day, Trump announced the return of daily press briefings to report on the state of the pandemic, briefings which were halted around three months ago.

In this way, he seeks to curb the damage that has occurred from the disastrous handling of the pandemic, marked by denialism and the sabotage of state initiatives. The American, once more, is a model for the Brazilian, President Jair Bolsonaro.

With more than 3.8 million confirmed cases and around 140,000 dead, the U.S. ranks first globally in both infections and deaths. In addition, the virus is, above all, now hitting the large southern states that helped elect Trump.

It is no coincidence that about two-thirds of voters reject the president’s response to the pandemic. Furthermore, his popularity, according to a Quinnipiac poll, has reached 36%, the lowest level since 2017.

Such disapproval, of course, is reflected in electoral performance, less than four months from the November general election.

In the most recent polls, Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, has an advantage of about 10 points. Additionally, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is advancing in states that are decisive in the context of the Electoral College, such as Texas and Florida.

For as much political resilience and ability to overcome adversity that the Republican president may have, the perfect storm that is forming around him, combining the new escalation of the pandemic, the resulting economic crisis, and incessant racial tension, makes reelection all the more difficult.

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