If not for the pandemic, would Trump have won re-election?

We’ll never know for sure, of course, as that is not the world we live in. But I think Trump would have won, most likely. Probably the economy would have been chugging along just fine, and that’s always a promising sign for the incumbent.

The fact that many people identified poor handling of the pandemic as a significant concern, and yet still Trump got 70 million votes, suggests to me that without the pandemic he would have gotten even more.

What do others think? Would Trump have won?

Without a doubt. The deplorables have us outnumbered.

I would rephrase it to “Were it not for Trump’s inability and unwillingness to deal with the pandemic”, and I think then that the answer would be: Probably.

Yes, excellent rephrasing. He’d have won even with the pandemic, if he’d shown statesmanship in his handling of it. In fact it might have been a landslide.

This was a weird election and it turned out to be much weirder than people even thought going in. I have heard some weird theories about this election: Biden’s choice to not go door to door during the pandemic hurting him; the fact that some of the areas that were seeing the biggest surge in cases going more for Trump than expected; speculation that some black and Latino christian voters who normally vote democrat voted for Trump because the democrats were more in favor of closing churches. Postmortem analysis will be interesting.

However it’s extremely hard to believe Biden would have won without a pandemic. We know that overall the pandemic hurt Trump’s polling numbers, and it’s extremely hard to believe that we could have an election with this much turnout and it could hurt the democrats. The other thing is that if Trump had actually handled the pandemic competently, he would have routed Biden.

Considering he almost won with a bad economy in a normal year he wins

I don’t think so. I don’t think the pandemic hurt Trump as much as people think. Americans are getting COVID fatigue. They are sick of wearing masks, they are sick of shutdowns, they are sick of the new normal. Trump offers a false message of hope, saying that the virus is just going to go away and we’re going to open up the economy full tilt. Biden wants to defeat the virus in order to open the economy. Trump’s way is easier, although unrealistic.

This is probably the worst time for Democrats with respect to COVID. It’s been eight months and people are tired of it. Cases are rising drastically, and they know more shutdowns are coming. Massachusetts announced new mitigation efforts days before the election. And the death toll from the fall/winter wave has only started to materialize. I don’t know exactly what numbers are going to come, but if the election were held as 2000 Americans per day were dying from COVID, it would be a different story.

So I know that “poll” has become a 4-letter word, but all the polling basically said that Trump got a slight bump at the very start, but that the pandemic put him deeper underwater since. That coupled with just the fact that the massive turnout from the mail-in voting that was added should have given the Dems much more of a boon - Democrats are supposed to win high-turnout elections.

Another thing on that is that Biden did a monumentally terrible job of explaining why Trump responded so badly. If we had actually centralized contact tracing we could have spent the summer in a partial lockdown with easier decisions about opening some things up with social distancing rather than having to continue having everything closed for months. Biden needed to explain more clearly why Trump’s negligence gave us the worst of both worlds, and some of this stuff is actually that simple that you can explain it during a debate or in a 30 minute tv spot.

Yes, I’m pretty sure he would have. Incumbents usually win and when they don’t, at last recently, it was because of economic troubles.

Elections don’t go according to how the voters think. They go according to how the voters feel.

The pandemic should have been a slam-dunk issue for Trump. It was a common enemy for both sides of the aisle. There was no pro-pandemic and anti-pandemic sides to take. It was an unforeseen shitshow for everyone to deal with. All he had to do was hold his chin up, fein concern, admit that he is not a scientific expert and that he was relying on top experts for guidance to do what is best for Americans.
Of course he does the complete opposite. Denounces experts, downplays it, won’t even go along with the simplest of suggested precautions (mask wearing).
I don’t know if it’s his ego that prevents him from doing that or if he is just really that dumb. Either way it cost him big time and people, not as many as you’d think but enough, started catching on that the emperor had no clothes.

I agree that it’s not really the pandemic, it’s Trump’s abysmal response, not just at controlling it, but at articulating any kind of strategy or emotional resonance.

Plenty of leaders who did an objectively pretty bad job with pandemic response got huge approval ratings boosts, because they treated like a real problem and empathized with people. See Cuomo for a great example of this. His state had (and I think still has) the objectively worst result in the nation, and he compounded it with rules like forcing nursing homes to take Covid+ patients. But he also got on the news and acted like a human being and said he wanted to fix things.

Trump tried to treat it as a short-term PR issue. Claim it’s going away to goose the stock market. Then claim he solved it. Then claim it was China’s fault. Then start a new front in the culture war over masking.

Then claim that it was not a big deal and really a conspiracy against him, then… etc. He’s just incapable of any long-term thinking or acting like a normal compassionate person for even a few minutes at a time, and it cost him.

100% Agree. People rally around the flag in a crisis. All you have to do is tell people we’re all in this together and it’s going to be hard, but we’re going to beat this. Not in Trump’s DNA.

Before 11/3, I would have said, no way, he was headed for major defeat no matter what, but given how the election turned out much narrower than expected, I think he would have had a decent shot at winning. He might have been able to overcome the gap in Pennsylvania and maybe the upper midwest.

That’s a tough question. The pandemic hurt the economy and hit many states hard. Being a Trump voter seemed to become part of the identity of many voters, a surprising number who think he is one of the best presidents. Surely some switched due to personal circumstances. Maybe they lived in Georgia or Michigan. The fact Trump did surprisingly well suggests many did not switch allegiance.

My guess is no. With no lockdowns this spring, I don’t think the Floyd protests erupt so strongly. And that was followed with Defund the Police, statues, name changes, Black, the NBA and so much more.

No one is better than Trump at throwing fire on the gasoline and he worked the culture wars masterfully. Over the 4th of July, the left was shitting on George Washington and screaming about stolen land for Mt Rushmore while Trump made his speech.

Without the culture war crap, which helped in 2016, Trump gets beaten. It’s only his Covid incompetence that caused his defeat after the summer

I’m a little confused by your post … are you saying “no - Trump would have lost with or without the pandemic”? Or did you misread the question as, “would Trump have lost if there were no pandemic?” and you believe that without the pandemic he would have won?


The case to look at is Australia. PM Scott Morrison is a right-winger who has been compared to Trump but deferred on COVID to experts. Result: 65 percent approval.

PM Scott Morrison is a right-winger who has been compared to Trump

This is a wind-up, right?
Compared favourably? Coherently? Cogently? By somebody who could pick fiscally conservative, socially moderate, tough on immigration when minister responsible but much less so as PM, practicing Pentecostal Scott Morrison out of a line-up? Sure.

A case equally valid is New Zealand
Jacinta Ardern is a left-winger who is about as diametrically opposed to Trump as you can get, but she also “deferred on COVID to experts”, verily even more so than Morrison and shut down the entire country. Result 60%plus approval and an election landslide win.

Both countries have all but eliminated local transmission of COVID-19.
Now that’s something to really aspire towards.

Concur with assessments above, with a competent approach to the pandemic Trump would have won 400 ECVs. If there had been no pandemic Trump wins 350 ECVs but polls 10mil votes less.

I dont think an island country like New Zealand that even in good times is careful who they allow to visit, is a good example.

If he had done more, would Biden and the democrats have given him credit for them?

400 is really too much of a stretch. To get to that, Trump would have to carry states like New York or California; that’s just not doable. Remember, even if he handled the pandemic well, he still was a president who’d tweeted 13,000 profane/immature/crass/inane tweets, had been impeached, had dozens of scandals, etc.

At best, he could have swept all the swing states he carried last time, and added Nevada, Minnesota, New Mexico and New Hampshire to his bag. That puts him at 330+ EVs, which is about as well as a Republican can ever expect to do in this century.