Presidential Outlook from Both Sides of BGR

BGR Group, a bipartisan lobbying and communications firm, offers presidential campaign analyses from both sides. Jonathan Mantz, one of BGR’s leading Democratic lobbyists, offers his case for Joe Biden and Sean Duffy, one of BGR’s top Republicans, explains why Donald Trump should be reelected.

 

 

Biden’s COVID-19 Bet

By Jonathan Mantz

With fewer than two months until election day, Democrats are unified to defeat Donald Trump and are making a strong case for Joe Biden’s candidacy. Nothing would bring the party more joy than to echo the words that Trump made famous when he starred in The Apprentice: “You’re Fired”.

Former Vice President Biden leads in polls nationally and in six key battleground states, according to RealClearPolitics averages. While margins may be narrowing, the Biden campaign holds leads in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona – all states Trump won in 2016.

But the outcome of the presidential election might turn on something tangible, even measurable: the extent to which the president did not do enough to stop the spread of COVID-19. Democratic strategists have successfully tied the severity of the pandemic to President Trump’s job performance and therefore his electoral prospects.

The bet is a good one for the Democrats. Voters tend to solidify their impressions of presidential candidates a month or so before they go to the polls (or, this year, as they mail in their ballots). COVID-19 is almost certain to remain the major problem it has been for months. In the September 13 ABC News poll, 65 percent of respondents disapproved of President Trump’s handling of COVID-19, 67 percent believed President Trump’s responsiveness to the virus was too slow, and Joe Biden had a 20 percentage point advantage over the president regarding who the public trusts in handling the virus.

While both Democrats and Republicans want this terrible scourge to end, Democrats will continue to make the point that the situation is due to President Trump’s inaction. Indeed, Biden and his backers have a compelling story. They say, simply, “Look at the numbers.” They mean the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths, unemployment, failed businesses, and students whose schooling has been interrupted.

Voters’ belief about the trajectory of those numbers – especially the voters who are still undecided – will play a significant role in who wins the White House in November. The situation might improve in the coming weeks, but voters’ opinions about the pandemic – and the responsibility for it – could already be locked in.

Many Americans yearn for a president who can lead through the tough times, tell the truth and unite the country and not blame others when the going gets tough. It may very well be that because of Trump’s handling, or mishandling, of the pandemic, Joe Biden will be taking the oath of office in January.

Jonathan Mantz, a principal at BGR Group, a leading bipartisan lobbying and communications firm, is a member of the DNC’s National Finance Committee, a former finance director of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and an alumnus of the Democratic fundraising committees for both the Senate and the House.

Trump’s Winning Story

By Sean Duffy

President Trump has been badly maligned by the media. It’s not surprising that watchers of certain networks and readers of some big-city publications are unaware that the incumbent has done anything worth praising.

That information deficit is finally being addressed. The president and his many supporters were able to tell their own stories during the Republican convention this summer. The party’s advanced, online platforms spread the word. And now that the fall campaign is underway, there’s a chance for the Trump administration’s many accomplishments to be seen and understood by important segments of the American electorate.

The president and his surrogates can proclaim proudly that President Trump has completed much of what he promised. They also can credibly predict, based on their records, that Joe Biden and fellow Democrats would reverse the progress the president and his party have made on issues ranging from economic recovery to safety on American streets.

Both sides are doing plenty of finger-pointing. Democrats continue to caricature the president as just short of the devil incarnate. They constantly seek to blame him for every ill starting with the pandemic and ending with the violence in the nation’s cities. The Democratic base is sympathetic to these flagrant accusations.

But longtime Trump backers and a lot of people who aren’t reflexively partisan have been given plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the anti-Trump propaganda being pushed by Democrats and in some cases, the mainstream media. Many were probably shocked, for instance, to see so many women and people of color thanking the president for the positive impact his policies have had on their lives during the Republican convention in August. Prior to the convention, they probably didn’t realize how forward leaning Trump’s appointees have been in protecting citizens from COVID-19. They also are seeing on the news each day that federal law enforcement assistance is truly needed to bring peace to inner cities, just as the president has said all along.

Two of President Trump’s most important accomplishments are his appointment of many more conservatives as federal judges, including two Supreme Court justices, and the Trump tax cut, which led to the pre-COVID economic boom.

The conventional wisdom on presidential elections is that the polls tighten as November nears. That’s going to be truer than usual this year. The reason: Voters have finally been made aware of President Trump’s side of the story and they like what they hear.

Sean Duffy, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin, is co-head of the financial services practice at BGR Group, a leading bipartisan lobbying and communications firm.