In private, Donald Trump is telling aides and campaign advisers that he knows he’s way behind in the 2020 race for the White House and likely headed for a humiliating defeat in the November election.
From one embarrassing misstep to another — a noxious tweet, a lackluster performance during an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity, or the subpar turnout at that infamous rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma — Trump’s poll numbers slide even further, with most showing him trailing by double digits to Joe Biden.
But it’s more than just the poll numbers that have the president’s friends, aides, and advisers worried. There’s also the sense that his heart just isn’t in the fight, according to Politico:
“Trump has time to rebound, and the political environment could improve for him. But interviews with more than a half-dozen people close to the president depicted a reelection effort badly in need of direction — and an unfocused candidate who repeatedly undermines himself.”
One of those Politico spoke with, former political adviser Sam Nunberg, had a prediction of where he sees things ending when the votes are counted on November 3:
“Under the current trajectory, President Trump is on the precipice of one of the worst electoral defeats in modern presidential elections and the worst historically for an incumbent president.”
Nunberg referenced the recent polls from CNBC and New York Times, both of which show Trump’s overall support is barely hovering at the 40 percent mark. Nunberg noted that should the president’s support level fall just five more points, to 35 percent, Trump could wind up being badly embarrassed:
“He’s going to be facing realistically a 400-plus electoral vote loss and the president would need to strongly reconsider whether he wants to continue to run as the Republican presidential nominee.”
What does the president’s campaign team have planned to bolster support and drive down Biden’s numbers? Attack ads, which they’re already running in select markets. But some of those markets are states that shouldn’t even be close, such as Georgia and Texas, both of which are being bombarded with TV spots.
The problem with attack ads, however, is while they can be effective at causing a small, temporary blip in the polls, they almost never alter the course of an election once voters begin making up their minds. And with thousands of new cases of coronavirus each day, additional scandals arising (i.e. the Russian bounty on U.S. military personnel), and multiple tell-all books on the way that will expose the president to even more scrutiny, Trump and his allies will have trouble changing the subject back to Biden, who is playing a brilliant strategy of letting the incumbent destroy himself.
A 400-plus electoral vote loss for Trump may be too much to hope for, but it would certainly be a welcome repudiation of the biggest failure to ever serve as president. And that alone would be a good first step towards healing a deeply-wounded nation.