That will be easier said than done. “In order to get to a discussion about the economy, there has to be a sense that the pandemic is under control,” David Winston, a pollster and strategist for congressional Republicans, tells me. “The challenge for Republicans is not so much that they need to be perceived as better than Democrats on health-care issues, which historically they haven’t been, but to put a belief in place that they can get the country to a transition point” on the pandemic.
House Republicans are set today to make their own case. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is debuting an agenda centered on economic recovery and tackling the pandemic — “a tacit admission by House Republicans that it’s simply not enough to oppose the Democrats’ coronavirus proposals,” Politico’s Melanie Zanona and John Bresnahan report.
Polling suggests Republican interest in shifting the debate to the economy makes some sense: It remains the last issue on which the president displays relative strength, even as Democratic nominee Joe Biden has narrowed the gap on the matter over the summer. And despite some evidence to the contrary — a Gallup poll in August, for example, found voters ranked the economy a distant third on their list of top concerns, behind the coronavirus and “government leadership” — Winston says his research indicates that it remains a driving worry for swing voters.
More importantly, Winston says the pandemic and the economic fallout it has caused remain “largely intertwined at this point.”
Trump, since the earliest days of the pandemic, has viewed the matters as separate.
The president consistently talked down the threat posed by the virus despite understanding its danger in early February, according to an interview he gave journalist Bob Woodward at