Republicans felt confident about their chances to win the 2020 presidential election along with the Senate majority. Democrats appeared poised to nominate a self-described socialist for president. The stock market was near a record high, and the economy was roaring. President Donald Trump looked well-positioned to win a second term, and perhaps pull enough incumbent Republicans along with him to hold the party’s majority in the Senate. This view drastically changed today.
What We Know:
- Republican strategists fear that Donald Trump will be defeated in November and that other Republicans will be affected by it.
- Seven GOP operatives, not directly associated with the President’s reelection campaign, told CNN that Trump’s response to the pandemic and the economic fallout have significantly damaged his bid for a second term, and that the effects are starting to hurt Republicans more broadly. Some of these operatives asked not to be identified in order to speak more candidly.
- Several say that public polls showing Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden mirror what they are finding in their own private polls. The GOP previously had a difficult task of defending 23 Senate seats in 2020. The job of protecting its slim 3-seat majority has only gotten harder as the pandemic has unfolded.
- Politico reported this week that two of Trump’s own outside political advisers, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, warned the President last week that his support was falling in some swing states.
- Strategists who spoke to CNN worry that Trump has become a liability for Republicans needing to expand their coalition beyond the President’s core base of supporters.
- Strategists have lowered their expectations, and now talk in terms of minimizing what they worry could be a wipeout for the GOP. This leaves them hoping for a minor rather than devastating defeat. “Republican candidates need something more like Romney in ’12 and less like McCain in ’08,” said Liam Donovan, a GOP strategist in Washington.
- The Trump campaign has argued that Americans trust the President when it comes to handling the economy and they will choose him to be the person to lead the recovery.
- “The economic message resonates strongly, particularly in a time like this,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “President Trump is clearly the one to restore us to that position. He did it once, he will do it again.”
Still, the worry for Republicans beyond the Trump orbit is that if there are no signs of the economy turning the corner by November that will be an impossible argument for the Trump campaign to make.