‘We’re thinking landslide’: Beyond D.C., GOP officials see Trump on glide path to reelection
According to most conventional indicators, Donald Trump is at risk of becoming a president for a term. The economy is a wreck, the corona virus persists and its poll ratings have worsened.
However, the operative approach to Trump's re-election campaign is being tightened by a fundamentally different perspective throughout the large republican party organization in the states.
Interviews with more than 50 Republican Party leaders from states, districts, and counties show a version of the electoral landscape that Trump sees is no worse than it was six months ago - and possibly a little better. According to this view, the corona virus is on the way out and the economy is returning. Polls are unreliable, Joe Biden is too fragile to last, and the media still don't understand it.
"The worse things happen in the country, the firmer the support for Trump," said Phillip Stephens, GOP chairman in Robeson County, NC, one of several rural counties in this swinging state, supported by Barack Obama in the 2012 changed to Trump in 2016. "We call him 'Teflon Trump'. Nothing will stay, because if anything, it will be more exciting than 2016. ”
That year Stephens said, "We're thinking of landslides."
Five months before the election, many leaders of the state and county republican party predict a close election. But from the east coast to the west coast and the battlefields in between, there is an overriding belief that there is no reason why Trump will not do it again, as Trump opposed political gravity four years ago.
State Party chairman Andrew Hitt in Wisconsin said that while the level of public awareness of the coronavirus was high in late March and early April, internal surveys indicated that "some fell where we wanted to be."
But now he said, "Things are coming back exactly where we want them ... This focus on the economy and America's reopening and repatriation resonates with people."
In Ohio, State Party leader Jane Timken said she sees no evidence of support for Trump's slip. Jennifer Carnahan, the leader of the Minnesota Republican Party, said the same thing. And Lawrence Tabas, the leader of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, went so far as to predict that Trump would not only support his state but would beat Biden by more than 100,000 votes - more than twice as much as in 2016.
"Contrary to what is portrayed in the media, there is still a high level of support," said Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. He described himself as "much more optimistic" than at that point in 2016.
The Republican Party's apparatus, which Trump heads in 2020, differs significantly from the one that looked at him cautiously in 2016. At the state level, many presidents who were considered insufficiently committed to the president were displaced and replaced by loyalists. But their assessments would be easier to dismiss than spin if Trump's perception of durability didn't go that far beyond the GOP.
When survey respondents ask Americans who they think will win the election - not who they vote for themselves - Trump does relatively well. And if anything, Trump's sales representatives appear bullish than Trump and some of his advisors. Even the President has complained of what he sees as unfair treatment by his opponents, but has raised private concerns about his poll ratings and has publicly acknowledged that he is depressed.
"If I hadn't been harassed by counterfeit and illegal investigations, Russia, Russia, Russia and the Impeachment Hoax for three years, I would have gone up 25 points against Sleepy Joe and the Do Nothing Democrats," he said on Twitter last week. "Very unfair, but it's what it is !!!"
In the United States, however, the Republican Party base is largely not convinced that the president is precariously positioned when he is re-elected.
"The Beltway narrative is incorrect," said Joe Bush, leader of the Republican Party in Muskegon County, Michigan, whom Trump narrowly lost in 2016. "Everyone here in the heartland is still very confident, more than ever." ”
At the center of the separation between the Trump loyalists' assessment of the state of the race and the assessment based on opinion polls is the distrust of their own poll. Republicans see an industry that maliciously overestimates Democrats or undervalued the white college graduates who are most likely to support Trump. They say it is difficult to know who is likely to be so far from the elections. And like many Democrats, they suspect that Trump supporters are disproportionately attached to pollsters and underestimate his support.
Republican Party leader Ted Lovdahl in Minnesota's 8th congressional district said he had friends who said "the exact opposite of what they were feeling" to the respondents.
When he asked one of them the reason, his friend said to him: "I don't like some of your questions. It is none of my business that concerns me."
Jack Brill, acting chairman of the local Republican Party in Sarasota County, Florida, recalled that polls couldn't predict the outcome four years ago, saying, "I was an enthusiastic election observer until 2016 ... you know what? I don't watch surveys. "
As they prepare for a summer picnic and post-parade parade, Republican Party organizers feel the beginning of an economic recovery that Trump, if sustained, is likely to lead to a second term. They also see a more immediate opening in the riots surrounding George Floyd's death.
"The farther the Democrats go to the left and the farther you get to where the police are being defused," said Scott Frostman, GOP chairman in Wisconsins Sauk County, whom Obama easily won in 2012 but switched to Trump four years later. "I think we as Republicans have the opportunity to talk a little bit more about some common sense things to people."
Biden has rejected a national movement to devalue police departments. But elections are often painted broadly, and local party officials expect Trump - with his rhetoric of law and order - to be the beneficiary of what they see as a democratic overreach.
"The other side plays their hand over and down streets, like disappointing the police and doing such nonsense," said Michael Burke, leader of the Republican Party in Pinal County, Arizona, a Trump stronghold in 2016. "" Most Americans look like this and say, "Really?"
With most objective measures, Trump will need something to pull Biden down. He has fallen behind Biden in most swing state polls and is more than 8 percentage points behind the former vice president nationwide according to the RealClearPolitics poll. In a Gallup poll last week, Trump's approval rate was only 39 percent, a decrease of 10 percentage points from the previous month. Democrats appear to be competitive not only in expected swing states, but also in places like Iowa and Ohio, which Trump easily won in 2016.
However, little of this data is registered. State and local officials point to Trump's financial and organizational advantages and see Biden as a weak opponent. They are trying to get Trump to gut him in debates. "While the Democrats spent their time playing Paper Rock Scissors to find out who their candidate would be, we built an army," said Terry Lathan, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
Texas Republican Party leader James Dickey said Biden "took days to figure out how to operate successfully or communicate from a bunker at all," and that "he obviously couldn't do a really challenging interview."
Local officials wipe out criticism of Trump through republican fixtures, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said last week that Trump "is lying all the time". They fire press reports about the race. Dennis Coxwell, leader of the Republican Party of Warren County in Georgia, said: "It has reached a point where I can no longer believe what the news media are saying."
Many admire Trump's most blunt instincts - the same ones that polls among women and independent voters have cost him. "The left gave George Bush all sorts of names and just infuriated him all the time ... and Bush never said a word," said Burke, who worked for Trump in the late 1980s and early 1990s and oversaw his helicopter fleet. "It was frustrating for those of us on the right. Now a guy comes by, you attack him, you get it back, double barrel. And everyone sits around and says: "Yes, that's right, give it to them."
And above all, they trust the expectation that the economy will improve in autumn.
Doyle Webb, leader of the Arkansas Republican Party and General Counsel of the Republican National Committee, said the only concern he would have about Trump's reelection prospects was "if the economy had another downturn."
"But I don't see that," said Webb.
Instead, he predicted an improvement in employment prospects and a return to the "old Clinton mantra:" It's the economy, stupid. "
"I think people will be happy," said Webb, "and [Trump] will be reelected."
It is a common view. In Pennsylvania, Erwal Republican Party leader Veral Salmon measured Trump's enthusiasm by the large number of requests he received for Trump advertising signs. In Maine, Melvin Williams, chairman of the Lincoln County Republican Committee, saw this in a population he said was "fed up with this bullshit" and blamed Democrats for the corona virus shutdowns. And across the country, in the highly democratic San Francisco, John Dennis, the chairman of the local GOP, was encouraged by the decreasing number of emails from the "Never Trump" crowd.
Not in his city, but at the national level, Dennis said, "I'm pretty confident that [Trump] will make it."
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