2020 Campaign
August 4, 2020

President Trump's re-election chances are in trouble and at least one White House official is blaming the people around him, Politico reports.

Trump's decline in popularity began in March right around the time White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows took on the role and began building a new White House team. That timing also coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, which certainly has played a major, if not singular, role in turning the tide of public opinion, but some Trump aides believe Meadows' arrival isn't insignificant, per Politico.

"I don't think his newest team is serving him well," a White House official told Politico. "In fact, it's worse than ever. They came in thinking they know best, and they've not bothered to understand the president of the West Wing."

The official said Meadows' team consists of "Kool-Aid drinkers," who may not be giving the commander-in-chief "the whole picture," which is something the official said Trump has never wanted from his staff. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

August 3, 2020

President Trump's new campaign manager Bill Stepien on Monday expressed concern about voters receiving their mail ballots as early as late September, echoing GOP strategists who believe Trump is operating on an accelerated timeline to regain momentum before Election Day on Nov. 3.

Stepien wants to counter the expected nationwide surge in mail-in voting by holding more debates, but that likely wouldn't fix another potential looming problem for his campaign that may be, in part, Trump's own doing. Per The Washington Post, Trump's repeated attacks on mail-in voting, which he argues will lead to mass voter fraud, is discouraging Republicans from utilizing the practice and could threaten party turnout. A Monmouth University poll taken in July found that 60 percent of Democrats would at least consider voting by mail, compared to just 28 percent of Republicans.

In any other year, that might not be such a big deal. Sure, weather and forgetfulness could always prevent someone from going to the polls on Election Day, Politico notes, but the threat of a coronavirus outbreak is looming over this year's election and could keep more people at home than usual, which is partly why Democrats are pushing for more mail-in voting.

Republican strategists are hoping Trump rolls back some of his criticism, or at least makes it more specific, going forward, so Republicans don't refuse to vote absentee if they need to. "It is a problem," one GOP strategist in North Carolina told the Post. "The president has oversimplified the issue to criticize the method of voting, rather than the way it's done." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

July 28, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his campaign team are playing it cool for now even as some Democrats are calling for bolstered efforts to potentially win in Georgia and Texas. But it doesn't sound like the latter will ever get much consideration, The Washington Post reports.

"Texas is 22 [expletive] media markets," one Biden adviser told the Post. "That is never going to happen. It's just not going to happen. Everyone knows that. I don't know why people are still even talking about it."

Georgia, though, has more potential to be flipped blue, and the adviser admitted the campaign will eventually have to make a decision on whether to invest resources there. "Georgia is real," the adviser said.

Still, the adviser said that choice won't be made until "we feel really comfortable about the six core states" — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, and Florida — adding that there's "plenty of time" to get more involved in Georgia. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

July 27, 2020

With fewer than 100 days until November's general election, the polls aren't looking good for President Trump. Still, The Atlantic's Peter Nicholas noted there's a chance the economy could bounce back by the fall; the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, could fail to inspire a strong turnout; or polling could simply be off the mark. Real Clear Politics election analyst Sean Trende, similarly argues that, while he considers a Trump victory unlikely, the president isn't too "far off where he needs to be" to get back in the race.

Ultimately, Trende thinks Trump probably has to make up about six points to catch Biden. Candidates have overcome worse odds than that in modern history, including George H.W. Bush, who trailed his Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis by 17 points in July. Trende and others don't think the '88 election is a great comparison for a variety of reasons, including the idea that Biden's lead has been defined more by its stability.

But either way, Trump has a smaller amount of ground to cover, and Trende points to his approval rating as an indicator that it's at least possible he can. In Trende's view, Trump seems to have bottomed out at 42 percent, which suggests he can't win. But there's also a chance the current spikes in coronavirus cases will begin their descent, potentially allowing Trump to gain an extra bump to get back to 45 percent approval, which Trende has pegged as the target number for a competitive election. Tim O'Donnell

July 25, 2020

The House GOP is on the outside looking in, and it doesn't look like the Trump re-election campaign or the Republican National Committee are planning to help out despite their deep pockets, The Washington Post reports.

Some Trump officials reportedly consider donating to the House a wasteful investment since it seems unlikely the party will be able to regain the majority in the lower chamber of Congress. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has apparently specifically asked President Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner — who oversees such decisions — to make a financial commitment to the House GOP, but he's reportedly refused so far, angering some Republicans who blame him for not understanding the importance of inter-party cohesion.

One official close to the Trump campaign told the Post "they don't care about the House," adding that "when you've been working in politics for years, and you understand it's a team sport, you kind of look at things a little differently. I don't think they see it that way." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

July 20, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is looking to reel in support from prominent Republicans who are dissatisfied with President Trump as the November election approaches, The Associated Press reports. He's reportedly close to convincing one big-name former governor already.

John Kasich, the former GOP Ohio governor, has reportedly been approached to speak at the Democratic National Convention next month on Biden's behalf, and he's expected to follow through, a person with direct knowledge of the plans told AP.

While it's not exactly shocking — Kasich has clashed with Trump since the two ran against each other in the 2016 Republican primaries — it's still noteworthy that someone who ran to represent the Republican Party just four years ago is reportedly on the verge of actively campaigning for the opposing party.

Per AP, a handful of other high-profile Republicans are likely to follow suit this fall. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

July 18, 2020

President Trump may be dissatisfied with some recent Supreme Court decisions, but voters who want the bench to lean conservative don't seem too worried about the direction it's going, The New York Times reports, and that could potentially have an effect on the 2020 election.

Trump won some supporters in 2016 who were wary of his candidacy but felt his presidency was necessary to shift the balance of the country's highest court, and Trump did indeed fill two vacancies with justices who are considered adherents to conservative jurisprudence. As it turns out, the court has issued some surprising rulings with Chief Justice Roberts building a reputation as the court's swing vote, although Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have sided with the more liberal members of the court on certain issues too.

The Trump re-election campaign is therefore once again bringing the Supreme Court to the forefront in the 2020 election, arguing it's necessary to instill another conservative judge should a vacancy open up. That will surely appeal to some Trump voters, but the Times reports it might not resonate as broadly as it did in 2016 because people are more or less satisfied with the Supreme Court's performance since Gorsuch and Kavanaugh took their seats. Trump himself may have played a role in that. "It's harder to make the case this year than it was in 2016 that there is an existential threat to the courts," said Rory Cooper, a Republican strategist. "Part of the problem is that the president and Senate Republicans have been so vocal about what a good job they've done on judicial confirmations, that some voters may think the job is done." Tim O'Donnell

July 5, 2020

President Trump has a penchant for tagging his political opponents with simple, but biting nicknames. The one he chose for his presumptive Democratic presidential challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, doesn't seem to have landed like those in the past, however, Axios reports.

It's well-known Trump refers to Biden as "sleepy Joe," but so far, at least judging by Google search trends, voters apparently don't associate the moniker with Biden all that much. Trump dubbed his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, as "crooked" Hillary, which prompted far more searches than "sleepy Joe." As analysts noted, there are likely several reasons for this. Regardless, it could be a small, but telling data point that shows Trump's patented insults may not have the same affect in 2020 now that the novelty has worn off.

Of course, it could just be that "sleepy" isn't particularly evocative, which is perhaps why the Trump campaign has recently starting trying out "corrupt Joe Biden." Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

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