Fears about economy under Covid lockdown helped Trump outperform polls

Fears about economy under Covid lockdown helped Trump outperform polls

Exit polls show economic concerns were top of mind for voters, and anti-lockdown rhetoric resonated for many

Voters’ fears about the economic impact of coronavirus lockdowns appear to have helped Donald Trump outperform pollsters’ expectations and brought the US election down to a nail-biting finish.

While ballots are still being counted, that performance probably shows the continued resonance of anti-lockdown rhetoric in an election where, especially for Trump voters, economic health came first.

The still evolving election result also shows the difficulty of delivering a nuanced public health message when Covid-19 cases are surging in the US and scientists, public health professionals, journalists and even doctors are under assault from the president and his allies.

“No one is saying let’s shut down the economy,” said social epidemiologist Natalie Linos, executive director of the Harvard University FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. However, multi-pronged messages about throttled economic reopenings, mask-wearing and social distancing are “complicated” to get across. “For people who haven’t had first-hand experience of the health impact of Covid it may seem unnecessary,” said Linos.