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Trump’s Approval Rating, Biden V.P. Search: The Latest in the 2020 Race

Trump’s Approval Rating, Biden V.P. Search: The Latest in the 2020 Race

Welcome to our weekly analysis of the state of the 2020 campaign.

  • Less than 100 days before the election, President Trump’s approval rating is stuck deep in the red. Gallup updated its approval tracker this week, showing Trump 15 points down.

  • His approval rating on the coronavirus is even weaker (–21), according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average.

  • A Monmouth University poll of Georgia, traditionally a red state, showed a dead heat, with Trump and Joe Biden each receiving 47 percent support from registered voters.

  • Polls of Arizona, Florida and North Carolina showed Biden with an edge in each of those states, all of which Trump won four years ago.

  • Biden spent $11.8 million on television ads, while Trump spent $4.7 million. Trump’s campaign pulled its TV ads for six days, briefly bringing its spending to $0 nationwide, as the new campaign manager, Bill Stepien, conducted a “review” of the ad strategy.

  • On Facebook, Trump again outspent Biden, roughly $4.2 million to just under $810,000.

If last week was billed by White House officials as a new direction for Mr. Trump — an attempt to stabilize his sinking approval rating by appearing to take the coronavirus crisis more seriously — this week is the one we all knew would inevitably follow, when his id took back the steering wheel.

Gone was the new message about the importance of wearing masks, or any sustained focus on what he claims is fast progress toward a vaccine. On Thursday, Mr. Trump suggested for the first time that the election could be delayed — a move some of his own former advisers described as a feeble attempt to get ahead of a potential loss in November.

Earlier, Mr. Trump defended his decision to retweet a claim that hydroxychloroquine was a “cure” for the virus and that masks were unnecessary.

Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate who served as a chairman of Black Voices for Trump, died Thursday because of complications from the virus, weeks after attending Mr. Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla. It had been a loaded setting and date — the weekend of Juneteenth, as protests over the death of George Floyd spread across the country — and the president needed as many Black supporters in attendance as he could muster.

Mr. Trump tweeted his condolences, calling Mr. Cain “an American patriot, and great friend.” Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that Mr. Cain “represented the very best of the American spirit.”

There was no nod to the reality that Mr. Cain may have put himself at greater risk because he was trying to be a good soldier for Mr. Trump. Inside the Tulsa arena, Mr. Cain posted selfies showing him sitting with other Black Trump supporters, none of whom wore masks.

It was an outcome that few in Trumpworld wanted to bear a measure of responsibility for. One campaign adviser said Thursday he hoped no one would “politicize” Mr. Cain’s death, and noted that it was impossible to tell where someone might have contracted the virus. The campaign did not respond to a request for comment about Mr. Cain’s attendance at the rally.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to circle Mr. Trump:

It also represented a soft evolution from the former president, who embraced several ideas that he had not endorsed while in the White House. Consider what he backed, and his history:

At long last, the month is August, and Mr. Biden’s self-imposed time frame for a vice-presidential selection has arrived. There are only two caveats: All indications are that he is going to give himself an extension, and we are barely closer to knowing the selection — or even the finalists — than at the start of July.

Supporters of possible candidates have made public and private cases for their favorites, and Mr. Biden’s campaign has fueled speculation by holding events with several contenders. Two candidates have more recently moved toward the top of Mr. Biden’s list: Representative Karen Bass of California and Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser.

Here’s what we know (and what we don’t):

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