The Republican establishment is getting nervous about their chances in November.
Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Mr. Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.
The scale of the G.O.P.’s challenge has crystallized in the last week. With 26 million Americans now having filed for unemployment benefits, Mr. Trump’s standing in states that he carried in 2016 looks increasingly wobbly: New surveys show him trailing significantly in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and he is even narrowly behind in must-win Florida.
Democrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter in the most pivotal congressional races, according to recent campaign finance reports. And while Mr. Trump is well ahead in money compared with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democratic donors are only beginning to focus on the general election, and several super PACs plan to spend heavily on behalf of him and the party.
Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Trump’s single best advantage as an incumbent — his access to the bully pulpit — has effectively become a platform for self-sabotage.
Put aside the fact that his medical advice — sarcastic or not — shows a stunning callousness toward human life. What is most important to Trump and his minions isn’t that people are getting sick and the body count is over 50,000; it’s that his attendance at the daily briefing is damaging his chances for reelection. That’s the most important thing?
Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster, said the landscape for his party had become far grimmer compared with the pre-virus plan to run almost singularly around the country’s prosperity.
“With the economy in free-fall, Republicans face a very challenging environment and it’s a total shift from where we were a few months ago,” Mr. Bolger said. “Democrats are angry, and now we have the foundation of the campaign yanked out from underneath us.”
Mr. Trump’s advisers and allies have often blamed external events for his most self-destructive acts, such as his repeated outbursts during the two-year investigation into his campaign’s dealings with Russia. Now, there is no such explanation — and, so far, there have been exceedingly few successful interventions regarding Mr. Trump’s behavior at the podium.
If people weren’t actually trying his quackery and loading up E.R.’s with people who shot up Lysol, it would be in the best interests of the country if Trump just kept talking every afternoon and showing with an incompetent and unmanageable disaster he and his administration is. Joe Biden and the Democrats could literally phone in the campaign.
We are told every four years that the coming election is the most important one in our lifetime. Usually that’s just campaign rhetoric and it’s usually voiced by the underdog in an attempt to get the voters to listen to them. In this case, though, this election could literally mean the difference between life and death.