Republican operatives fear Trump is 'dead in the water' and will sink vulnerable GOP senators: report

Republican operatives fear Trump is 'dead in the water' and will sink vulnerable GOP senators: report
President Donald J. Trump engages in a roundtable discussion with cabinet members, congressmen, and defense industry leaders Oct. 19, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The discussion focused on a variety of topics including cybersecurity, foreign military sales, and technological advancement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ridge Shan)

In recent weeks, Democratic strategists have been encouraged not only by polls showing President Donald Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden (the presumptive Democratic nominee) but by signs Democrats have a shot at retaking the U.S. Senate. That doesn’t mean that Democrats should be overconfident; wise politicians campaign like they’re 15 or 20 points behind no matter how good they’re looking in polls.


But reporters Michael Warren and Ryan Nobles, in an article for CNN, emphasize that GOP operatives “are increasingly worried that Trump is headed for defeat in November and that he may drag other Republicans down with him.”

“Seven GOP operatives not directly associated with the president’s reelection campaign told CNN that Trump’s response to the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout have significantly damaged his bid for a second term — and that the effects are starting to hurt Republicans more broadly,” Warren and Nobles report. “Some of these operatives asked not to be identified in order to speak more candidly.”

Watching right-wing outlets like Fox News, one is inundated with nonstop cheerleading for Trump. But what GOP insiders are willing to say on Fox News or AM talk radio and what they say when their names are not attached to a quote can be quite different. And one of CNN’s interviewees, described by Warren and Nobles as a “high-ranking Senate aide,” asserted, “Put it this way: I am very glad my boss isn’t on the ballot this cycle.”

According to Warren and Nobles, GOP sources told them that “public polls showing Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden mirror what they are finding in their own private polls, and that the trend is bleeding into key Senate races…. The job of protecting its slim three-seat majority has only gotten harder as the pandemic has unfolded. States like Arizona and North Carolina, once thought to be home to winnable Senate races, now appear in jeopardy.”

GOP operatives and strategists, the CNN reporters note, fear “that the election becomes a referendum on Trump’s performance during the pandemic. Coupled with a cratered economy, the effect could be devastating by both depressing the Republican faithful and turning off swing voters.”

The coronavirus pandemic, Warren and Nobles point out, has “destroyed many of the economic gains” that Republicans were hoping to campaign on this year. And one of the GOP strategists they quote anonymously told CNN, “This is the one thing (Trump) cannot change the subject on. This is not a political opponent; this is not going way, and he has never had to deal with something like this.”

Another Republican strategist was especially dire, telling CNN, “Absent some sort of V-shaped recovery, many people think (Trump) is dead in the water.” And a source Warren and Nobles describe as a “Republican congressional campaign consultant” told CNN, “It’s a very, very tough environment. If you have a college degree and you live in suburbia, you don’t want to vote for us.”

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