Vastavam web: President Donald Trump is running out of time to recover from a series of self-inflicted setbacks that have rattled his base of support and triggered alarm among Republicans who fear the White House is on the verge of being lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The one-two punch of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and his widely panned debate performance also has Republicans worried they could lose control of the Senate.
With just over three weeks until Election Day, Senate races in some reliably red states, including South Carolina and Kansas, are competitive, aided by a surge in Democratic fundraising that has put both the Republican Party and Trump’s own campaign at an unexpected financial disadvantage. Optimists in the president’s inner circle point to his unique ability to command attention and to his 2016 campaign, which also seemed destined for defeat before a late shift.
But that comeback was aided by outside forces against an unpopular opponent. This year’s campaign, other Republicans worry, may instead resemble 1980 or 2008: a close race until, at the end, it decidedly wasn’t. It’s not good for my side,” said veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres. “Pretty obviously, in many ways down-ballot Republicans are in the boat with Donald Trump. That’s good for Republicans in deep-red states, but more problematic for those in swing states.
Asked for any bright spots for the Republican field, Ayres said, I’m wracking my brain and just struggling. The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg animated conservatives but also electrified Democrats, driving a tsunami of cash toward Biden and down-ballot Democrats. Trump’s heavily derided debate performance only exacerbated the problem, as even his own supporters found him rude as he so frequently interrupted Biden.
Reviewing data afterward, campaign aides worried as they started to see Trump’s support begin to slip. They saw the president’s coronavirus diagnosis as only compounding the problem, particularly with seniors. It’s not good,” said Alex Conant, a senior campaign adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.