COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future. As the pandemic has unfolded, its enormous implications for public health and the global economy have overshadowed national politics.
But as infection rates decrease and fear subsides, Americans will begin demanding answers to questions about how the virus outbreak was handled. The GOP will have to answer for President Trump’s mismanagement of Coronavirus at the beginning of the outbreak, as well as his actions and words throughout the crisis.
Americans increasingly disapprove of Trump’s response
According to polls aggregated on FiveThirtyEight, a majority of Americans now believe President Trump is handling the COVID-19 crisis poorly.  Approval ratings have been declining as the pandemic has raged on.
Part of this disapproval stems from President Trump’s slow response to the outbreak, which resulted in thousands of avoidable deaths from the virus. And part of the disapproval stems from his handling of the crisis once he acknowledged the threat the coronavirus posed. His positions and directions have been inconsistent, at times based on falsehoods, and at times in conflict with the law.
Between downplaying the severity of the outbreak in its early days, touting the benefits of unproven drugs in fighting the virus, and clashing with state and local leaders over their rights to make decisions for their electorate, President Trump has lost the faith and support of many Americans.
Politicization of public health measures divides country
In addition to botching the national response to COVID-19, Trump has politicized adherence to public health guidelines. Guidelines created by respected, bipartisan institutions like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have been dismissed or baselessly challenged.
Guidelines around periods of quarantine, social distancing, and wearing face masks are intended to protect the public from infection and allow for the economy to restart more quickly. But President Trump has encouraged defiance of those guidelines, and his supporter base has listened.
Many far-right Americans are now choosing not to follow public health guidelines, creating friction with their neighbors and deepening the political divide in America.
Rough waters ahead for the GOP
A pandemic is never a welcome event. But for the GOP, COVID-19 couldn’t have come at a worse time. The 2020 presidential election was already going to be a difficult contest but the pandemic, and Trump’s response to it, has possibly made a win even harder.
Trump’s approval ratings have been volatile and his mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic and recession has been all over the map. With months to go before the election, it’s not too late for conservatives to turn things around, but it won’t be an easy road ahead.