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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

A president's false alarms won't help him win the voters he already dissed

President Donald Trump pays respects last week as

President Donald Trump pays respects last week as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at the top of the Supreme Court front steps. A crowd chanted, "Vote him out!" Credit: Pool / EPA / Alex Brandon

Polls in key states will fluctuate between now and Election Day. They always do. Republicans generally support President Donald Trump; Democrats generally support former Vice President Joe Biden. Nobody yet knows which party will come out of a hyperpartisan season with the presidency in hand or if the "undecideds" are really all that undecided.

All that is to be expected. But given the four years Trump has had to expand his support across America, it is remarkable to consider that his base actually may have shrunk on some fronts. In Minnesota, for example, a recent CBS News/YouGov survey had Trump trailing Biden among white voters by 2 points, after winning them by 7 points in 2016. It's similar in Wisconsin.

"It’s a big, big swing," said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, told Politico. "What [Biden’s] doing among whites is more than offsetting the slippage among nonwhites … The recipe is very different this time, right now anyway, in terms of white voters."

Right or wrong, different observers in recent weeks also have conveyed a sense that Trump's support has diminished among women and people who take religion and morality seriously. It is too soon to gauge the significance.

At times, the president poses as the master of a ruling faction rather than the democratically chosen president of a whole republic. Treating the Democratic Party as a subversive organization doesn't win him any new friends, at least not in the U.S. It jibes, however, with his exotic falsehoods about widespread election fraud and a defiant refusal to acknowledge the obvious fact he could lose fair and square.

Biden seems to bet on his conventional, low-key patriotism winning the day.

Voters can't be blamed when they become disappointed customers. Many were unhappy when they learned what the Bill Clinton-era trade deal with Mexico and Canada really meant for them. The Obama-era Affordable Care Act spawned widespread dissatisfaction too.

But both Clinton and Obama won reelection.

Guiding the U.S. through a crisis could have won Trump points for unity. Instead, his office's delayed and chaotic responses to the coronavirus pandemic proved divisive. He squandered credibility by resisting facts and warnings, showing skepticism of masks, blaming Democratic-led states for not rushing to reopen businesses, feeding "deep-state" suspicions and casting doubts on his own advisers.

Those are nobody's idea of wartime unity.

Red states are reeling from COVID-19 infections. Farmers took a hit from Trump's tariffs. The coal industry continues to vanish. Promises to rebuild infrastructure went nowhere. Trump will need to overcome those facts.

Last week, when Trump attended rites for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he took the rare step of wearing a COVID mask. A crowd that spotted him outside the Supreme Court booed, then chanted "Vote him out!" It was another moment of division.

On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. delivered an overwrought plea for "able-bodied" Americans to work on "security" at the polls on Nov. 3. "The Radical Left is laying the groundwork to steal the 2020 Election from our president," the bearded namesake declares. "We need you to join ARMY FOR TRUMP’s election security operation!"

If Trump wins, it likely won't resemble a consensus or a popular landslide. He will have done only what was needed to salvage his power and keep his faction in tow. Casting blame, accusing all rivals of plots, and sowing division would narrow anyone's support.

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