The irony of President Trump’s fearmongering about mail-in ballots is that an unprecedented level of early voting appears to be underway. Close to 10 million ballots have already been cast for the presidential, Senate, House and down-ballot races. There has also been a huge turnout in Georgia, which is in a dead heat in the presidential and two Senate races. But herding voters to in-person voting during a pandemic is just one of many errors the Trump campaign has made as it careens toward the end of arguably the worst-run presidential campaign since George McGovern’s in 1972.
It is far from clear how much in-person campaigning Trump is going to do in the coming weeks, but he is pulling ads down in key states and has walked away from the debate planned for Thursday. He is helping former vice president Joe Biden, who has a double-digit national lead and comfortable leads in states that will get him beyond 270 electoral votes, run out the clock. This is as close to a unilateral surrender — both of visibility and incumbency — as we have ever seen in a presidential race. Trump is in a defensive crouch just as he needs to change the entire trajectory of the race.
It is not hard to figure out how he got here. Trump gave up on negotiating a second covid-19 stimulus plan (then reversed course, but too late, it appears). As a result, he is not doing the one thing that could demonstrate that he cares about the lives of Americans and takes the pandemic seriously.