Courtesy of NBC News:
A series of setbacks for President Donald Trump has left some Republican operatives and donors fearing that the race for the White House is slipping away and proposing that the party shift focus to protecting seats in Congress.
Vulnerable GOP candidates are currently tethered to an unpopular president, fighting for survival against a potential blue wave after Trump’s widely panned performance in the first debate, his coronavirus diagnosis and his erratic behavior on economic stimulus talks.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead over Trump has topped 10 points in the NBC News national polling average. Across the country, Trump is hemorrhaging support among seniors and faces widespread defections among white college graduates, particularly women.
“The president has had possibly the worst two-week stretch that a candidate could have going into the final month of an election,” Ken Spain, a Republican strategist, said.
“In 2016, the president was a buoy. In 2020, he’s more of an anchor. There’s no question there are going to be losses down the ballot,” he said. “Six months ago, Republicans were hoping that we would be talking about Senate races in Colorado, Arizona and Maine. Instead, there’s concern about the potential outcomes in states like South Carolina, Georgia and Kansas.”
The down-ballot panic intensified with the recognition that Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was in danger as a raft of polls since summer showed his race in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. The Cook Political Report this week shifted the race rating from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up.”
Some party financiers fear the presidency is slipping out of reach and want the party to shift its resources to protecting seats in Congress to limit any progressive ambitions of a Biden presidency.
“If Biden is truly close to being double digits ahead, then there’s no chance that we hold the Senate,” said Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and an oil and gas executive who supports Trump. “If 2016 was a vote against Hillary (Clinton) and Trump has turned 2020 into a referendum against him, I wonder if some of these Senate candidates can hold on.”
Brendan Buck, a Republican consultant, who was a top adviser to former House Speaker Paul Ryan, said it would be a rational response to steer resources to saving endangered incumbents.
“We need to protect the Senate and limit the damage in the House,” he said. “They can’t say it out loud, but the president is likely toast, and a Republican Senate can serve as a check on a Biden administration and Democratic House. Republicans also need to keep the House in reach of flipping it back in 2022.”
I actually think it might be too late to shift focus to protecting vulnerable Senate and House seats, especially if those politicians are seen by their constituents as complicit with Trump’s abuse of power.
I think the Republicans are in for a huge reality check, made even more shocking to them by the fact that they have actively ignored that reality for most of Trump’s presidency.
This does not mean that it time to get complacent, no quite the contrary, this means it is time to make sure that our votes count and to prove that these Republican operatives have reason to be shaking in their boots.