Will the politics hurt Donald Trump come the national election vote in November?
Will Democrats come together for Biden with Bernie Sanders still making noise?
Will it help Joe Biden defeat a President who has a health and economic problem in the time before he needs the American approval to get a job extension?
For many Democrats, the prospect of a stalled but protracted nominating contest is unsettling. Moderates are laboring to unify the party’s ranks behind Biden, and the politics of the coronavirus crisis is heightening their anxiety.
The conventional wisdom for weeks has been that President Donald Trump’s uneven, and at times chaotic, handling of this crisis is deeply problematic for his reelection chances. But it may not be that simple.
So far, Trump has taken a beating over his handling of the pandemic. The economy is tanking, and just 46 percent of Americans believe the federal government is doing enough to confront the coronavirus, down from 61 percent last month, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Few people trust what Trump is saying about the pandemic, according to the same poll.
But Trump has time on his side, with the coronavirus spreading early in the election cycle. 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.”
In a normal year, the presidential primary would be shutting down by now, with Biden piling up delegates and Sanders running out of states to win. Biden easily defeated Sanders in the three states that voted Tuesday, including landslides in Florida and Illinois.
And unlike in 2016, when California’s massive haul of delegates came later in the process, Sanders has little to look forward to. Sanders was widely expected to lose in delegate-rich Ohio on Tuesday before the state postponed its primary at the last minute. Georgia, which also just pushed back its primary that had been scheduled for next week, looked similarly grim for the Vermont senator.
But the coronavirus has temporarily forestalled those outcomes. And if Puerto Rico reschedules its March 29 primary as expected, it will be more than two weeks before the next regularly scheduled primaries….