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Analyst: Trump 'hardly a shoo-in' for reelection as coronavirus press conferences jump the rails

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

President Donald Trump’s chances for reelection have been “diminished greatly” by the coronavirus crisis and the administration’s response, veteran market strategist Greg Valliere told Yahoo Finance on Thursday, adding that the president’s press conferences have distracted from the U.S.’s efforts to defeat COVID-19 and restart the economy. 

Trump’s approval ratings have risen and fallen in line with the government’s pell-mell approach to managing the virus, which has now infected over 1.5 million people worldwide — with nearly 500,000 in the U.S. alone. 

Meanwhile, a president once chided for not regularly interfacing with the press has now become a daily fixture in freewheeling press conferences. This week, the normally supportive Wall Street Journal editorial page lambasted Trump for turning the briefings into a “dispiriting brawl between the President and his antagonists in the White House press corps.”

While Trump's approval ratings initially rose in response to the widespread lockdowns that brought the economy to a grinding halt, they’ve now come back to Earth — along with expectations that he’ll return to the Oval Office next year.

“The view earlier this year that Trump was the clear favorite has now diminished greatly,” Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments, told Yahoo Finance’s “The Ticker,” adding that the incumbent is “hardly a shoo-in in November.”

A combination of off-message remarks, squabbles with the World Health Organization and key U.S. governors are “doing him no good,” Valliere added. 

The president is also being hurt by the messy federal rollout of aid to cash-strapped small businesses and suddenly unemployed consumers. On Thursday, Democrats blocked a GOP-led proposal to boost emergency funding by an additional $250 billion, and an existing plan to encourage businesses to keep workers on their payrolls has been described as a “nightmare” by some.

“A lot of Americans feel the aid to small businesses has been chaotic and not rolled out very well. I think Trump’s press conferences are becoming unproductive for him,” the analyst added.

With former Vice President Joe Biden now the presumptive Democratic nominee, investors have been partly mollified by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropping out of the presidential race. 

Most polls show Biden holding a slim lead over Trump, leading Valliere to think that his chances are “not illusory. Biden has a chance to win.” 

Sanders’ policies were anathema to many on Wall Street, and Biden’s profile as a moderate is enhancing his appeal to markets, Valliere suggested.

“Even if Biden does win I don’t see a big problem for the markets, because I think the Senate still stays Republican,” the analyst said.

“If that happens the Senate becomes the firewall that blocks all kinds of radical legislation ... if the Senate stays republican I think the markets could handle a Biden victory,” Valliere added.

Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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