President Trump has had real achievements and a baleful effect

President Trump has had real achievements and a baleful effect

Three judges, a tax cut, an ever-more-divided nation and an undrained swamp

America hardly feels great again. There are 11m fewer people working than in February. Barely more than one-third of pupils are attending school normally. Hunger and poverty have risen; the memories of a turbulent summer of protests and racial unrest are still raw. Official figures show 227,000 people dead due to covid-19; excess-mortality data suggest the true total is over 300,000. And both caseloads and hospitalisations are surging for a third time. On October 23rd America recorded nearly 84,000 new cases, the highest daily tally so far.

The mismanaged epidemic, more than anything else, seems likely to cost President Donald Trump his job. As The Economist went to press our election model gave him less than a 5% chance of winning.

Were it not for the epidemic, though, Mr Trump might be on the brink of re-election. In 2016 he told voters he would keep the economy growing; until the epidemic hit it had done just that. Growth never quite reached the lustrous annual rate of 4% he promised, but it did do better than many had forecast, and his tax cut in 2017 turned out to be a well-timed fiscal stimulus. At the end of last year unemployment was at its lowest level for half a century. The wages of the less well paid were rising swiftly.