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Apr-07-2020 15:27printcomments

Will the Rally 'Round the Flag Syndrome Affect the Presidential Election?

Trump received intelligence reports in January of the dangers of a likely COVID-19 pandemic -but he called such news a hoax, fake news, and a Democrat conspiracy.

COVID-Trump
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Image: ABC News/Ipsos Poll

(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.) - Will the COVID-19 pandemic and the expected resulting recession lessen Trump’s re-election chances? The rally 'round the flag effect (or syndrome) may come into play.

This is a concept used in political science and international relations to explain increased short-run popular support of the President of the United States during periods of international crisis or war.

After all, 9/11 certainly helped George W. Bush get reelected.

In January and February, Trump ignored intelligence reports of the dangers of a likely COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, he called such news a hoax, fake news, and a Democrat conspiracy.

Fox News has been a leader in presenting a Trumpy version of the truth, often portraying news in the best possible light for the president at the expense of science-based facts.

Trump gets lots of media attention by holding daily rosy briefings containing misinformation and downright lies with no sympathy for virus victims. Then again, empathy is not a Trump strong suit.

Meanwhile, news of the pandemic keeps Joe Biden, his probable opponent, out of the limelight. As November 3 draws closer, will Americans “rally ‘round” Trump?

With all the turmoil, the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll (see below) shows Trump's approval for his management of the coronavirus is now 47-52%, down from 55% in the poll released on March 20, and closer to where it was in the March 13 poll, when it was 43%.

Of course, it is still early and anything could happen between now and election day. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the question remains as to how the rest of the Democratic primaries will be held as well as the general election on November 3rd, 2020.

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