Months of Trump and other Republicans resisting pressure to openly advocate the use of face coverings saw the coronavirus continue to spread, and created a widening political divide.
I discussed here last month the apparent split between Trump supporters who were skeptical and even outraged at masks, and Democrats who openly wore them and pushed for common sense protection, but a change in the President’s actions have caused a shift.
Polls in June showed 71% of Democrats said they wore masks all the time when leaving their homes versus just 35% of Republicans. On 11th July, he emerged in public at the Walter Reed military hospital wearing a mask, and followed it up with verbal support, telling the press: “If it‘s necessary, I would urge them [the American public] to wear a mask and I would say follow the guidelines.“
In just a few days, this has seen Republican voters who say they wear masks when out in public rise by 10%, from 35% to 45%. Without 4 long months of being extremely ambiguous about the benefits of facial coverings, perhaps Trump could have muted the rising tide of conspiracy theorist anti-maskers who grew in confidence online over those crucial months.