WASHINGTON — President Trump, who this past week has falsely claimed that the coronavirus is harmless for 99 percent of cases and said that the pandemic will disappear, is on the wrong side of public opinion about the virus.
That’s the unmistakable conclusion from the first installment of our online NBC News |SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll on social and economic issues.
According to the poll, a combined 70 percent of Americans are “very” or “somewhat” worried that they or someone in their family will be exposed to the coronavirus. That includes 88 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and even 51 percent of Republicans.
Seventy-nine percent are worried about a potential second wave of the virus, and that includes 95 percent of Dems, 83 percent of indies and 62 percent of Republicans.
Now there’s partisan disagreement in the poll on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus (86 percent of Republicans approve, while 92 percent of Democrats disapprove) and on reopening businesses (61 percent of Republicans say their biggest concern is that they’ll reopen too slowly, while 87 percent of Dems say their biggest worry is that they’ll reopen too quickly).
But the Republican responses here are the outliers: Trump’s overall coronavirus approval stands at 43 percent, and 63 percent of Americans are more concerned that businesses will reopen too quickly.
And check out these numbers: 70 percent of Americans say they trust their own governor over Trump when it comes to reopening businesses in their area.
That includes 93 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and even nearly half of Republicans (45 percent).
The public-opinion debate about the coronavirus is over, and President Trump is on the losing side.
And that might explain why Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who’s 86 years old, said he’s not attending next month’s Republican convention.
"I’m not going to go. And I’m not going to go because of the virus situation," he said.
He’s referred to LeBron James and CNN’s Don Lemon as being “dumb.”
He’s said the same of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
Back in May, Trump called the protesters reacting to George Floyd’s death “thugs,” adding: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
And he retweeted that video of an apparent supporter saying “white power” (which he later deleted).
But perhaps the most racist tweet of Trump’s presidency — at least when directed at African Americans and authored by him — came yesterday.
In one single tweet, he asked the lone major Black NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, to apologize for the NASCAR community uniting behind him after finding a noose in his garage; he said the entire episode was a “hoax” (when there was an actual noose, even if the FBI concluded it had been in that garage well before Wallace was ever assigned to it); and to top it off, he attributed lower NASCAR ratings to its decision to bar the Confederate flag.
In fact, NASCAR’s ratings are up.
It all raises the question: What is Trump trying to get out of this?
Does he legitimately think, as NBC’s Benjy Sarlin suggested yesterday, that there are potential swing voters who back the Confederate flag?
And does he really think he can drive the coronavirus out of the news?