The public health and economic crisis caused by the novel coronavirus has dimmed the re-election hopes of President Donald Trump, putting him well behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in most polls with about four months left until election day.
Trump faces a difficult path to victory that will require two significant shifts in American life: a speedy economic recovery and the nation’s return to normal day-to-day activities, says Marc Lasry, the billionaire co-founder of hedge fund Avenue Capital and a member of the Biden campaign’s national finance committee.
“It's hard for Trump to win,” Lasry says. “I get the sense that the majority of people are just not happy with the way things are or believe that change will be good.”
“He needs the economy to get back on its feet by Election Day or before,” adds Lasry, in a newly released interview, taped on June 29. “Number two, you need people to be out, right. You need the reopening of the country.”
“I think they push for that,” he says. “Now we're seeing the repercussions.”
Last month, the economy showed initial signs of recovery, but some economists fear these positive indicators may prove short-lived as rising coronavirus cases forced key states like Florida and Texas to pause or reverse their reopening plans.
The U.S. added a record 4.8 million jobs in June, dropping the unemployment rate to 11.1%, according to a jobs report released last Thursday. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management’s index of non-manufacturing businesses, released Monday, leapt to about 57% in June from about 45% in May, suggesting an improvement for the service sector, which makes up the majority of the U.S. economy.
A Gallup survey conducted in June gave Trump an approval rating of 39%, which marked a 10-point drop from his rating in the poll a month prior. Trump trails Biden by 9.5 percentage points, according to an average of national polls calculated by FiveThirtyEight.
The need for continued social distancing measures amid the economic downturn will hinder Trump’s re-election chances, Lasry says.
“It's very hard for him to win because of all these factors,” he says.
Lasry made the remarks in an episode of Yahoo Finance’s “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Twenty-five years ago, Lasry co-founded Avenue Capital with his sister Sonia Gardner, who serves as the firm’s president and managing partner. In 2014, he and investor Wes Eden bought the Milwaukee Bucks for $550 million, and within four years the value of Lasry’s stake had doubled.
Before he joined the national finance committee for Biden, Lasry raised money as a major backer of the presidential campaign of California Senator Kamala Harris.
He framed the general election as a referendum on the status quo.
“Ultimately, it's really a simple question: Are you happy with the way things are?” Lasry says.
“If you are, then you're going to stick and you're going to vote for Donald Trump,” he says. “If you're not, then you're going to vote for Joe Biden.”