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Juan Williams: Older Voters Won’t Forgive Trump for COVID

“It is what it is.”

Well, Mr. President, the wife of the late David Nagy thinks you are wrong.

She is furious at you about the death of her 79-year-old husband.

“Family members believe David’s death was needless,” Stacey Nagy wrote in her husband’s newspaper obituary. “They blame his death … on Trump, [Texas Gov. Greg] Abbott and all the politicians who did not take this pandemic seriously and were more concerned with their popularity and votes than lives.”

Mrs. Nagy’s anger at Trump fits with the political message in another obituary in North Carolina:

“In lieu of flowers, think of Mrs. Thomas while casting your vote to remove President Trump from office,” said the obituary for 82-year-old Sandra Shuler Thomas in the Citizen-Times of Asheville.

And then there is the death of a well-known senior citizen — someone I knew and liked — who believed the president’s claim that his political rivals called attention to the virus only to damage his bid for a second term.

Herman Cain, a 74-year-old Trump supporter and 2012 presidential candidate, urged people to rebuke “the left wing” for insisting on wearing masks and social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.

Then Cain went to a Trump rally in Tulsa. He wore no mask and did not social distance. Eight of Trump’s staff at the rally came down with the virus. And then Cain tested positive. He died about a month later.

“Cain, like Trump … flouted the recommendations of public health officials,” wrote Alex Shephard in The New Republic. “Those attempting to wall off ‘politics’ from Cain’s death aren’t doing it to protect Cain. They are doing it to protect Trump. Trump’s failure to organize America’s response to the virus has led to more than 150,000 deaths.”

Now the death total is more than 160,000 and rising. And 80 percent of those fatalities are people over the age of 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2016, voters 65 and older voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton by about 7 percentage points. The senior vote was critical to Trump’s wins in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida.

But in a July Fox News poll, Trump had only a 1-point lead over his presumptive Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, among the over-65s.

What was a strength for Trump in 2016 is now a split vote, not giving a clear edge to one side or the other in 2020.

Trump’s “ostentatious concern with reopening the economy rather than preventing deaths among the most vulnerable, has not gone down well with these [older] voters,” Ruy Teixeira, a political scientist, wrote in a June column in The New York Times.

And with the virus as the number one issue for voters, the Fox poll found that voters trust Biden to do a better job than Trump in handling the virus by 17 percentage points.

Overall, 67 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump’s handling of the virus, in a July ABC News-Ipsos poll.

In the swing state of Florida, more than 20 percent of the state’s population is over the age of 65. Trump won the state in 2016 by just over 1 point.

But in the most recent polling, Biden leads Trump in Florida by 13 percentage points, 51 percent-38 percent, according to the late July Quinnipiac survey.

In an interview with Axios that aired last week, Trump claimed that coronavirus deaths in Florida are “going down.”

In fact, the rate of deaths was increasing.

But Trump’s position remained blind to the reality: “Right now, I think it’s under control,” Trump told Jonathan Swan of Axios.

Swan responded that it is hard to see the disease as under control when “a thousand Americans are dying a day.”

“They are dying, that’s true and it is what it is,” Trump conceded. Later he added: “First of all, we have done a great job.”

Trump’s inability to face his failure to stop the spread of the virus, especially among older voters, is evident in his revamped campaign advertising.

There is no mention of the virus.

That’s right.

After stopping all television advertising to review why it was failing to cut into Biden’s strong lead, both nationally and in swing states, the Trump campaign came back last week with advertising with no mention of the number one issue on voters’ minds.

Instead, the Trump advertising is focused on selling fear of anarchy in big cities and portraying Biden as a victim of a far-left “takeover.”

“The radical left has taken over Joe Biden and the Democratic Party,” says a deep, scary voice. “Don’t let them take over America.”

The problem is that voters see Biden as a moderate, not a radical. And a lot of seniors fit into that moderate voter mold.

In North Carolina and Georgia, according to CBS News polling, a plurality of moderate voters see Biden as a moderate. “Beyond the Republican base, few voters see Biden as being on the far left at this point in the campaign,” wrote Kabir Khanna of CBS News.

What is radical is Trump’s failure to deal with the virus.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Story cited here.

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