DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – UT Dallas Political Science Professor Harold Clarke says national surveys he and others at the university conducted show the COVID-19 pandemic likely cost President Trump winning a second term.

“This changed the political world. It really did,” said Clarke.

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He said they surveyed 2,500 people nationwide two weeks before the election. They found that 62% said COVID-19 was a top three issue, with 39% of them saying it was their most important issue. They also found 44% said the economy was a top three issue, with 17% of them saying it was their most important issue.

Among those who said COVID-19 was their chief concern, President Trump’s job approval was just 25%, while 67% disapproved of his response to the pandemic. Eight% said neither or they didn’t know.

But in a sharp contrast, when it came to the economy and other issues, 50% of those surveyed approved the President’s job performance and 41% disapproved.

“Rightly or wrongly, the President is held responsible for delivering security, broadly defined, and here was something novel,” said Clarke. “It’s almost like a war, somebody dropped the bombs on us and people expect the President to be able to handle it.”

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Clarke said the President’s Operation Warp Speed, overseeing the record fast development of multiple COVID vaccines, now being distributed in Dallas and across the country, didn’t seem to help. “It came too little too late to do anything for him politically, even though of course, there were announcements that it was on its way.”

Professor Clarke said normally sitting Presidents run on peace and prosperity. The President tried to run on his economic record before the pandemic.

This year, Clarke said he found the virus displaced the economy as a top concern.

“It would have been very difficult for any president in these circumstances. But particularly for a figure like Trump, who was always just on the edge, as I said, look at the 2016 results, look at these public opinion polls, he needed every break, he could get to win this election. And of course, he had exactly the opposite.”

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