THE UK and Scottish Governments officially are not commenting, the British mainstream media is mainly superficial in its coverage, but there is one Brit who is making it his mission to examine closely what is going on at a grassroots level in the USA as the presidential election looms on November 3.

Former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lord Ashcroft has been carrying out one of his unique surveys of opinion among the American electorate. Just as he has done for some years in the UK, Ashcroft is sampling opinion among ordinary voters in the key states where the battle for the White House will be won and lost. He is finding a USA divided as never before.

Using the tried and tested device of focus groups, his latest results published yesterday concerned Michigan, which voted for the Democrat in every presidential election for 20 years before narrowly backing Republican Donald Trump in 2016.

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Polls in North Carolina give Joe Biden a slim lead – worrying news for the president as it has recently been a more Republican-leaning state.

On his website, Ashcroft states: “In Britain, Boris Johnson’s illness brought forth expressions of concern and goodwill from across the political divide – had this been the case with the president?”

He then reports the differing views on Trump’s handling of the pandemic: “There’s Democrats saying ‘we wish him all the best,’ and I guess they have to mean it because Pence isn’t much better. But then there are those who say ‘yeah, you deserved it’”, “He’s had a kind of karma experience where he put it off and was saying it was a hoax. And it did come around, and now he’s considered to be a super-spreader.”

Ashcroft added: “Everyday human sympathy was set against the widespread feeling that he had failed to protect himself or other people: “He greatly increased his chances. He didn’t take precautions; he didn’t wear a mask”, “He gave it to all the White House people and didn’t quarantine himself.”

“Many felt his wider actions – or lack of them – had led to a higher American death toll than might otherwise have been the case: “He basically encouraged his followers to come out and be in close contact and not wear masks. He’s helped kill a lot of people, I think.”

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“We know that he knew about the dangers of the virus at the very beginning, that it could be spread through the air, and he said ‘it’s not a deal, it’s going to be gone by Easter. Everything’s totally fine’.”

Some took a more forgiving view:“Everyone is going to get it, regardless, until they come up with a vaccine;” “He was trying to avoid panic” but even a number of his former voters saw Trump’s handling of the pandemic as emblematic of his presidency: “Whoever was in charge would have struggled, but he just comes across as too defiant to want to take advice from anybody, the medical profession. His ego just gets in the way the whole time,” “I thought he would rise to the occasion, that he would elevate himself to the office. And then it just seems like a circus.”

Ashcroft’s interviews carried out over Zoom have been with ordinary voters, one of whom – a Trump supporter – told him: “He’s just not taken the opportunity to gain some of these swing voters that could make it a win for him. And I just don’t think he’s going to win.”