After taking a beating at the hands of Joe Biden on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to be shutting down his campaign. Most tellingly, the campaign has shut down all of its Facebook advertising. Sanders also announced he will be “assessing” the campaign. That’s code for—he’s dropping out.
With Sanders cleared out of the way, the Democrat establishment candidate, Joe Biden, can now focus (as best he can) his efforts on President Trump.
Trump on the Defensive but Moving Fast
For the past few weeks, President Trump has found himself on the defensive. That’s a big turnaround from where he was only weeks before. After his State of the Union Address, the President enjoyed some of the highest popularity of his presidency. Since the coronavirus hit U.S. shores, that popularity has eroded, but now seems to have found its level. Trump’s current net disapproval ratings are holding steady around 8.6 points. That’s not his best, but it’s certainly not “red alert” territory.
The President seems to have stemmed the early panic surrounding his approach to the virus. With a series of major moves, his administration has taken what seemed like a low-key fight against the pandemic and turned it into a full-fledged onslaught again the virus. After first feeling as though they had an advantage on the issue, Democrats are now fearful that the President’s leadership on coronavirus could win him the election. David Siders wrote on March 18:
This week, the Republican president adopted a more somber tone, and some Democrats are beginning to worry that he could mold the narrative to his benefit. A massive stimulus, including direct payments to Americans, could help him in November.
“The initial mishandling of the coronavirus by the government doesn’t mean voters will penalize Trump in November,” said Michael Ceraso, who worked for Sanders in 2016 and was Pete Buttigieg’s New Hampshire director before leaving his campaign last year. “We know we have two candidates who can pivot this generation’s largest health crisis to their policy strengths. But history tells us that an incumbent who steers us through a challenging time, a la Bush and 9/11 and Obama and the Great Recession, are rewarded with a second term.”
So while Trump ended up on the defensive over the virus initially, he has moved fast to make aggressive moves aimed at fighting the virus and shoring up peoples’ morale.
Where Does That Leave Joe Biden? He’s Not Sure
While the President charts a course through an emergency he didn’t create, and the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century, Joe Biden is left with a diminishing ability to campaign. With people avoiding major events, Biden’s rallies–which weren’t much anyway–will almost certainly go extinct. Meanwhile, the President will be seen on TV every evening by Americans looking for news on the virus.
The 2020 race is once again between a typical big-government establishment progressive, and Trump, who despite a few years in Washington remains as much of an outsider as a president could be.
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