US presidential sprint shaken by Trump’s illness

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Already shaken by several historic crises, the US presidential election was upset by the announcement that Donald Trump, late in the polls against Joe Biden, was suffering from Covid-19. Less than a month before the November 3 election, an update on an unprecedented electoral campaign.

– Sick, Trump deprived of meetings –

Donald Trump the tribune is deprived of campaign meetings by the disease, while he had until then crisscrossed the United States to meet thousands of supporters, often unmasked, despite the pandemic.

After his diagnosis on Friday, the Trump team postponed all travel indefinitely.

Even after leaving the hospital, the Republican billionaire will have to remain confined for a time.

– Polls at half mast for Trump –

The diagnosis came as Donald Trump, 74, was already lagging behind in the polls behind Joe Biden, 77.

Pandemic, economic crisis, historic movement of anger against racism: despite a campaign shaken by shock events, the advantage of the former vice-president is stable: for three months, Joe Biden has led by six to nine points in the average national polls compiled by the RealClearPolitics website.

The presidential election is however played on the scale of a handful of key states, likely to switch from one party to another. There too Joe Biden leads, with a tighter lead.

Chaotic, abrasive, the first debate, on September 29, widened the gap further: 14 points ahead for the Democrat, according to an NBC / Wall Street Journal survey, carried out before the president’s positive Covid-19 test. It remains to be seen whether the disease will bring it back in popularity, which the latest polls do not suggest.

His team was trying Monday to turn his hospitalization into an advantage. Donald Trump has “firsthand experience” of the virus while “Joe Biden does not,” Republican spokeswoman Erin Perrine said.

– Biden, the difficult balance –

Long mocked by the Trump camp for his muted campaign, Joe Biden alone occupies the ground of the key States.

As of Friday, tested negative, the septuagenarian had maintained a trip to Michigan. And he went to Florida on Monday. Wearing a mask during his speeches, he lectured the president on respecting barrier gestures.

Also expected Thursday in Arizona, the ex-right arm of Barack Obama continues his campaign at his own pace, certainly lower than that of his rival before his illness.

But the Democrat must be careful not to appear insensitive to the president’s plight.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our campaign team has led by example,” a spokesperson for Joe Biden told AFP.

– Doubts about the debates –

Scheduled for Wednesday, the only debate between running mates, both tested negative, is maintained.

Republican Vice President Mike Pence, 61, and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, 55, will face off in Salt Lake City. In addition to being placed at nearly four meters, they will be separated by a plexiglass wall, a manager of the Harris team told AFP.

The doubt hangs over the next two presidential debates.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden were supposed to meet on October 15 in Miami, Florida. Then on October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Joe Biden said he was ready to debate. “If the scientists say it’s safe (…) then it will be fine,” he said on Monday.

The former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, who had prepared Donald Trump for the first debate, said Monday that he saw “no reason to delay” these duels, if his health “continues to improve”.

The format of the debates is also called into question.

For 90 minutes on September 29, the two candidates shouted at each other on stage, at a good distance but in an enclosed space, which increases the risk of transmission.

The organizers had mandated the wearing of the mask in the public. But barely seated, the relatives of Donald Trump, including his wife Melania, had removed theirs. She tested positive on Friday.

– Over three million ballots filed –

Long before November 3, early voting began in September: already more than 3.5 million ballots had been cast on Monday, according to the US Elections Project site.

The pandemic could explode this early voting like that by mail, with voters seeking to avoid polling stations as a health precaution.

In the 2016 election, nearly a quarter of the votes (33 million) were cast by mail. This time, between 50 and 80 million bulletins could arrive by mail.

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