Washington Update - Oct 11, 2020

Billy Moore    Dc2

With three weeks remaining in the presidential campaign, frontrunner Joe Biden has widened his lead over incumbent Donald Trump as voters focus on the coronavirus and the tickets’ debate performance. There is no apparent sympathy in the polls for the President’s hospitalization and release with COVID as Biden’s advantage stretched from 7-8 points to double digits and topped 51 percent last week.

Time is running short for President Trump to change the trajectory of the campaign as over 6 million votes have already been cast. The President’s decision to not debate Biden this week and his unrelenting self-promotion limits his opportunities to refocus the race as a choice about Biden rather than a referendum on his record and personality.

The President did not help himself when he called off negotiations with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on coronavirus relief legislation only to engage in talks again, raising his offer to nearly $2 trillion. The inconsistency sparked criticism from vulnerable Senate Republicans seeking reelection, adding to doubts that a bipartisan package could pass the Senate if a deal is reached with the Speaker.

It would be hard to avoid a vote if the House passes another coronavirus relief bill, especially one supported by President Trump. Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Amy Barrett begin this week and a floor vote is expected before the election. Senators returning to Washington to vote on Barrett would be hard-pressed to explain why they couldn’t vote on a bill backed by the President to provide COVID testing and treatment, plus assistance for small business, the unemployed and local governments. 

As Democrats appear to be expanding their advantage in races for the House of Representatives, the contests for the Senate have tightened for both parties. The Senate majority may be unknown until after two possible Georgia runoffs on January 5.