How coronavirus is sinking Trump's election hopes

CNN's Harry Enten takes a closer look at how significant the Covid-19 pandemic is in deciding who Americans are going to vote for in the 2020 presidential election.

Posted: Oct 29, 2020 5:51 PM
Updated: Oct 29, 2020 5:51 PM

I have long argued that coronavirus was the only election issue that really mattered. History tells us that when a non-economic issue is topping the list of the nation's problems in a presidential election year, then the candidate who is trusted most on that issue almost always wins.

Coronavirus is raging nationwide with only five days to go until Election Day. For President Donald Trump to win reelection, he's going to have to somehow do so even as cases are on the upswing in almost all the key battleground states that he won four years ago.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

There were 10 states Trump won by less than 10 points in 2016: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. In nine of these states, there was a daily average of at least 15 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past week. The lone exception was Arizona, according to The New York Times, where there were 14 new cases per 100,000 people.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, had a high of 72.5 new cases per 100,000 people. This was the highest number among the battleground states and was third in the nation.

The high number of coronavirus cases can't possibly help the President in the closing stretch of the campaign. Trump seems to be doing worse in communities where Covid-19 deaths are higher, according to one study.

This could help to explain at the margins why Biden is doing so well in Wisconsin right now. Remember, Trump won the state by a little less than a point in 2016. Biden's up by an average of 8 to 9 points. In one (likely outlier) poll released on Wednesday, Biden was up 17 points among likely voters.

But even if there were no direct link between coronavirus activity in a state and Trump's standing, the mere discussion of the pandemic is not a good thing for Trump. Our CNN/SSRS poll on Wednesday showed that Biden was more trusted to handle the coronavirus by 57% of likely voters. Trump came in at just 39% in the matchup.

Biden has never trailed Trump in any CNN poll on who was better to handle the coronavirus crisis.

View 2020 presidential election polling

Trump, of course, has seemingly been arguing that the media have been talking about coronavirus too much. It's the voters, though, who seem to be seeing the numbers and think it's a big problem.

Coronavirus has been -- or has been statistically tied for -- the nation's top problem in every Gallup poll since the spring. During that same period, Biden has maintained a north of 5-point lead in the horse race against Trump.

It's possible that a different president might be able to change the subject through his words. The big issue is Trump has no credibility on the subject. A number of polls have shown that he simply isn't trusted to relay information about the virus.

This goes back to a deeper problem for Trump: He isn't trusted, period. A majority of Americans don't think he is honest and trustworthy. A majority of Americans believe his opponent, Biden, is.

In a year in which a global pandemic is gripping the nation, a president who has presided over a country where the virus continues to disrupt daily life and whose word is not trusted is likely to lose.

And that's exactly where we stand with the election closing in.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 667262

Reported Deaths: 12737
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion913541660
Lake48729891
Allen36175646
Hamilton32489398
St. Joseph30361514
Elkhart25536420
Vanderburgh21343382
Tippecanoe20240205
Johnson16485363
Porter16077281
Hendricks15955302
Clark12079182
Madison11810323
Vigo11699234
Monroe10440164
Delaware9899179
LaPorte9838201
Howard9127203
Kosciusko8600111
Bartholomew7531147
Hancock7471134
Warrick7456153
Floyd7269173
Wayne6661192
Grant6465158
Boone618691
Morgan6135129
Dubois5942112
Dearborn551570
Cass5489100
Marshall5456105
Henry544395
Noble513878
Jackson465967
Shelby463591
Lawrence4197113
Gibson405585
Harrison404065
Clinton397653
Montgomery391984
DeKalb388278
Miami358463
Knox357886
Whitley352438
Huntington350877
Steuben340455
Putnam334660
Wabash333976
Ripley328062
Adams326349
Jasper319343
White298553
Jefferson296574
Daviess286196
Fayette272756
Decatur271688
Greene262680
Posey261732
Wells259175
Scott252150
LaGrange242670
Clay241644
Randolph226577
Spencer219630
Jennings216944
Washington213327
Sullivan203839
Fountain202842
Starke190051
Owen184254
Fulton179937
Jay178828
Carroll176919
Perry174136
Orange171451
Rush165722
Vermillion161543
Franklin160135
Tipton150041
Parke140216
Pike128633
Blackford120727
Pulaski107844
Newton96832
Brown95340
Crawford92613
Benton92513
Martin80314
Warren76014
Switzerland7568
Union67510
Ohio54211
Unassigned0427

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 978471

Reported Deaths: 17501
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1130371251
Cuyahoga969331881
Hamilton739231067
Montgomery47536923
Summit40720831
Butler35859531
Lucas35802720
Stark29602826
Warren22593275
Lorain22218424
Mahoning19586551
Lake18564332
Clermont18541205
Delaware16614121
Licking15096194
Fairfield14653188
Trumbull14437424
Greene13664221
Medina13531237
Clark12394256
Wood11670170
Portage11140172
Allen10822216
Richland10376188
Miami10065194
Muskingum8244117
Columbiana8174210
Pickaway8096111
Tuscarawas8083232
Marion8021127
Wayne7939199
Erie6972146
Ross6178132
Geauga6118142
Hancock6032121
Scioto600988
Ashtabula6002154
Lawrence527886
Union516741
Darke5052116
Belmont5000137
Huron4862108
Jefferson4843137
Sandusky4800112
Washington475596
Seneca4738111
Athens466449
Mercer459781
Auglaize456682
Shelby442679
Knox4056105
Putnam400593
Madison395755
Fulton383461
Ashland383083
Brown375252
Defiance374088
Crawford360198
Logan357673
Preble354187
Clinton342755
Highland328551
Ottawa325471
Williams303568
Jackson292046
Champaign291149
Guernsey288945
Perry271348
Fayette270143
Morrow261637
Henry247961
Hardin247359
Holmes244497
Coshocton241156
Van Wert230357
Gallia223938
Adams218339
Pike217328
Wyandot212450
Hocking195154
Carroll182143
Paulding161134
Meigs136031
Noble129233
Monroe117637
Morgan102220
Harrison100731
Vinton76713
Unassigned00
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