SOUTH BEND – Is that coronavirus a Republican or a Democrat?

President Trump, who takes everything so personally, must think the virus is a Democrat. He resents it for ruining the robust economy he was counting on to assure reelection. He fumes about what the virus did to him. Unfair. No sympathy for him from the “fake news” White House reporters or from Democrats promoting a “hoax” about his handling of the pandemic.

Wait. Could that virus be a Republican? Look at the way Joe Biden, now virtually sure to be Trump’s Democratic challenger, is forced to do interviews from his basement, with not exactly quality video. He can’t get out for fundraising events to try to catch up with Trump’s huge lead in funds. Bernie and Barack endorse him, and that GOP coronavirus knocks it out of headline news. Unfair.

Affix a political label on the virus? Dr. Anthony Fauci wouldn’t do so. There’s no scientific or medical basis for that. But the virus certainly has become political. The coronavirus is blamed by one side or the other in this culturally divided nation as a threat to take away guns, to prevent access to abortion, to block religious worship, to subvert the right to vote, to kill the economic future of the young, to kill off senior citizens.

While this terrible virus should be confronted in a bipartisan way, there is limited bipartisanship. So, is the coronavirus a Republican or a Democrat in its political impact?    

In Wisconsin, Republicans controlling the state legislature and courts thought the virus would help them. They counted on fear of the virus to suppress Democratic votes, especially in Milwaukee, in refusing to postpone the primary election. Turned out, however, that it wasn’t a Republican-friendly virus. Angry Democrats stood in line to vote anyway, helping to pull off a major upset, defeating a Wisconsin Supreme Court ultra-conservative judge supported by President Trump.

In Indiana, Democrats hope that the president’s handling of the pandemic will diminish his high popularity with Hoosiers and bring more Democratic victories in legislative races. Well, a poll last week by Indy Politics/Change showed Trump with a lead of 13 percentage points over Biden in Indiana. Doesn’t look like the coronavirus handling has much pro-Democratic appeal with Hoosiers.

In Michigan, it’s a different story. A new FOX poll shows Biden with a lead of 8 percentage points in the key battleground state. A Reuters poll shows the same percentage. And Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, ridiculed by Trump as Half-Whit-mer, is shown in polls with much higher approval than Trump. With all of the attention, she is emerging as a top contender for the Democratic nomination for vice president.

In New York, where the coronavirus has been so devastating, so deadly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shot up in approval ratings. From days not long ago when he was hovering around 50% and regarded as not very likable, Cuomo zoomed to an amazing 77% approval.

In the nation, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds 58% approving of Trump’s performance in stimulating jobs and 51% approving of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Skyrocketing approval in New York for a Democratic governor doesn’t mean much for the presidential race. Trump never had a chance to carry New York anyway. But approval ratings nationally give an indication of whether he maintains the base needed to win.

Is the coronavirus a Republican or a Democrat?

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.