Rankings wrangler Drew Goins here for Round 67, which finds President Trump behind in a trailing-by-13-points-in-Florida sort of way. But it is yet July, which leaves time for not only an October surprise but an August and September one, too. Trump might be praying all those aliens pay a visit and reverse his fortunes, but short of that, here’s what the members of the Ranking Committee think could turn the race around for Mr. President.
— Drew Goins
Better pandemic management
He starts wearing a mask regularly and takes covid-19 seriously. Unless he does that well, he doesn’t have the credibility with swing voters to make any Biden gaffe matter.
— Henry Olsen
Trump would gain a huge amount of ground if he (a) set low expectations for his performance during the pandemic and (b) skated by on the achievements of health officials. Trump isn’t about to start handling the coronavirus competently or effectively, but voters often don’t judge presidents on pure managerial ability. They ask themselves, “Are things getting better or getting worse?” and if things are getting better, they tend to give the president credit. So Trump needs to set as low of a bar as possible and cross his fingers that people who work for him — scientists, public health officials, et al. — do their job well and unintentionally push him over the top.
— David Byler
The race will close as they always do, but the momentum behind President Trump’s comeback will be significantly fueled by what Democrats and, by extension, Joe Biden don’t do: condemn violence in the streets of Portland, Ore., and elsewhere and repudiate utterly and without equivocation “defunding the police” or “redirecting funding for the police,” which are effectively the same thing in the ears of a majority of voters. As the Democratic Party collapses into apology for the protesters in Portland, Trump will regain ground lost to voters professing “Trump fatigue.” Better that than fear for personal safety.
— Hugh Hewitt
Large-scale retaliation from leftists
It seems obvious Trump is sending federal law enforcement into cities to confront protesters not just because the TV imagery it creates tickles his authoritarian fancies but also as deliberate incitement, to stoke violent civil conflict. But why? One possibility: to provoke a dramatic, large-scale retaliation from a self-described leftist. That might shift the suburbs against the protests and in Trump’s direction. Is that overheated? Perhaps. But ask yourself: Why is Trump actively trying to push the nation to the brink of civil war? Do you have a better explanation?
— Greg Sargent
A Supreme Court vacancy
A spot opening up on the Supreme Court could remind reluctant conservatives of the same deal they made with the devil in 2016 — and help them ignore even the most devilish deeds Trump has carried out in office. This could win back some of the suburban voters the president has lost over his tenure, and maybe energize others who otherwise would have sat this mid-pandemic election out.
— Molly Roberts
A time machine
Trump is so far behind and so personally discredited, I find it impossible to think of something he might realistically do to rehabilitate himself. Even if we developed an effective vaccine (very difficult given the timeline), it almost certainly would not be distributed in time. As for Biden, I do not believe a single gaffe out there could sink him. What I think would pose a real problem is massive voter suppression. Literally preventing people from voting or their votes from being counted is the greatest threat to Biden, and to our democracy. Aside from that, Trump would need a time machine — to go several months back, acknowledge the pandemic and put in place a mammoth federal response. While there, he could react to the killing of George Floyd like a normal, empathetic human and even champion a list of agreed-upon police reforms.
— Jennifer Rubin
I genuinely don’t have a plausible scenario. At this point, I don’t think there’s any way Trump can become competitive with Biden in the polls. And I think the only way Trump could even conceivably eke out a win on Election Day would be through voter suppression on an improbably (perhaps impossibly) massive scale.
— Eugene Robinson
So Trump saying, “If elected, I will immediately resign and hand power to my new vice president, Mitt Romney,” doesn’t count? I mean, beyond that, we’re into “Joe Biden is identified as the perpetrator in a gruesome double homicide.” I’m struggling to think of anything else that will save Trump.
— Megan McArdle
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next round. Until then, keep on your tinfoil hats, just in case.
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