Atlantic Two Key Swing States During a Pandemic

October 26, 2020

Two COVID-19 Swing-State Case Studies

President Trump’s complicated relationships with the governors of two swing states could ultimately cost him reelection, my colleague Ron Brownstein writes.

First, Michigan: The president said at a White House press briefing in March he told Vice President Mike Pence not to “call the woman in Michigan”—Governor Gretchen Whitmer—if she didn’t “treat [him] right.” While he won Michigan in 2016 by a slim 0.23 percent margin, that sort of hostility could hurt his chances of doing so again.

The president can hardly afford any erosion in the populous Detroit metropolitan area …. “It is politically stupid of the president to pick a fight with a governor who is trying to manage a crisis in a state that he has to win,” one political strategist told Ron.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is hardly the only Democrat to face the president’s ire. The president has expressed displeasure toward Democratic leadership across the country for what he regards as insufficient gratitude to the administration’s response efforts, my colleague Peter Nicholas has reported. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum: The Trump administration’s fingerprints are all over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s playbook. DeSantis initially dragged his feet over shutting down Florida (all the while, Trump described him as a “great governor” who “knows exactly what he’s doing”).

In Florida, conditions have not yet reached such a crisis point, though its caseload is growing steadily. But because DeSantis waited so long to act, he and Trump could be punished if the outbreak ultimately imposes a heavy cost on the state.