Is Trump blowing his “vaccine legacy”?

That’s a question that Politico is asking after chatting with former Trump aides
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For openers…

Polls consistently report that so-called “vaccine hesitancy” is highest among Republicans and Blacks.

I’m a bit baffled about the GOP numbers since practically all of my Republican friends have been vaccinated … the couple who haven’t been vaxed have very legitimate medical reasons (e.g. immune system disorders).

For now, I’ll put my personal sample aside (as I always advised students to do), and stipulate that a large number of Republicans are vax-hesitant.

Trump hasn’t been visible pitching the “get vaxed” message to his supporters.

As one pundit observes: “We have the odd spectacle of Joe Biden creating a massive PR campaign for the vaccines Trump helped develop, while Trump himself refuses to get in front for his own success. It’s a lost opportunity (for Trump and the Republican party).”

So, why might Trump be staying on the sidelines?

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First, let’s take a pure marketing perspective.

No question, Trump is polarizing.

Last week, we posted study findings that:

Predictably, an endorsement by Trump made Democrats less likely to get vaccinated..

Less predictably, a vaccine endorsement by Dr. Fauci resulted in only small reductions in vaccine resistance among Democrats, but increased and  strengthened vaccine resistance among Republicans.

Think about that for a moment…

Trump’s visibility on the vax issue may generate some incremental vax enthusiasm among his supporters, but increases vax hesitancy among Democrats (e.g. Blacks).

Bottom line: no net gain.

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Second, Trump has a constrained media platform

Don’t forget that Trump has been banned on Twitter, Facebook, et. al., and would face a hostile media if he did step forward.

He’d be accused of “refusing to give up the spotlight” … and be constantly  counter-pointed by the nation’s ubiquitous (and oft-wrong) chief political-scientist, Dr. Fauci.

That’s a battle that Trump probably can’t win.

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Finally, their are some Dem-created headwinds.

Keep in mind that President-in-waiting Harris campaigned that she’d never take a vaccine developed by Trump

Though she took a jab after getting elected, first impressions tend to linger in people’s minds.

And, note that Biden has effectively (though fraudulently) appropriated the “vaccine savior” mantle with his debunked claims that there was no vaccine when he took office and that Trump left him with no plan for vaccine distribution.

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That said, imagine Trump and Biden making a joint public appearance.

Biden could publicly commend Team Trump for getting an effective vaccine to market at, shall we say, “warp speed”.

Then Trump could implore his vax hesitant followers to to jump on the vax train.

I won’t hold my breath…

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