Michael A.Cohen of the Boston Times says the disease will cause “severe” disruption in the US and has used an analysis of a spate of the shark attacks in 1916 to explain why Trump’s re-election chances might be damaged. The 2017 book ‘Democracy For Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government’ by Larry M. Bartels and Christopher H.Achen looked at the deaths of several teenager at the hands of sharks in July 1916. Mr Cohen explained: “With sharply declining tourism revenue, and no system in place to prevent shark attacks, local communities turned to the federal government for help.”
US President Woodrow Wilson had been New Jersey Governor prior to beginning his term.
The sharks had moved on by the time Mr Wilson mobilised the coastguard.
Mr Cohen added: “But local voters, adversely affected by the economic consequences of the attacks, still took their anger out on the president.”
Mr Bartels and Mr Achen calculated that Mr Wilson took a 10 percentage point hit in communities affected by the attacks.
A coronavirus outbreak could dent Donald Trump's re-election bid (Image: GETTY)
Woodrow Wilson's failure to deal with shark attacks is cited as a forewarning (Image: GETTY)
The study argues voters "consistently and systematically punish incumbents for conditions beyond their control”.
In the 2000 US election, Al Gore, the incumbent vice-president to Bill Clinton, lost 2.8 million votes in states with weather conditions that were “too wet or too dry” according to calculations for the book.
Speaking to Mr Cohen, Mr Bartels noted Mr Wilson did not face much criticism over the Spanish Flu outbreak.
He says this was because of a lack of a clear link “between the president and the disaster”.