I’m not making any predictions about this election.
The current thinking among those who think about such things is that the Democrats are sacrificing the election with this lunacy with the blacks. I tend to doubt that, and I find their cockiness to be very unfortunate.
Furthermore, the common wisdom on why no Republican is standing up and saying anything about these blacks is that they don’t want to interrupt their enemy while he’s making a mistake. But what if they win? What will they be winning? They will rule over the ruins?
By most conventional indicators, Donald Trump is in danger of becoming a one-term president. The economy is a wreck, the coronavirus persists, and his poll numbers have deteriorated.
But throughout the Republican Party’s vast organization in the states, the operational approach to Trump’s re-election campaign is hardening around a fundamentally different view.
Interviews with more than 50 state, district and county Republican Party chairs depict a version of the electoral landscape that is no worse for Trump than six months ago — and possibly even slightly better. According to this view, the coronavirus is on its way out and the economy is coming back. Polls are unreliable, Joe Biden is too frail to last, and the media still doesn’t get it.
“The more bad things happen in the country, it just solidifies support for Trump,” said Phillip Stephens, GOP chairman in Robeson County, N.C., one of several rural counties in that swing state that shifted from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016. “We’re calling him ‘Teflon Trump.’ Nothing’s going to stick, because if anything, it’s getting more exciting than it was in 2016.”
This year, Stephens said, “We’re thinking landslide.”
Five months before the election, many state and county Republican Party chairs predict a close election. Yet from the Eastern seaboard to the West Coast and the battlegrounds in between, there is an overriding belief that, just as Trump defied political gravity four years ago, there’s no reason he won’t do it again.
Andrew Hitt, the state party chairman in Wisconsin, said that during the height of public attention on the coronavirus, in late March and early April, internal polling suggested “some sagging off where we wanted to be.”
But now, he said, “Things are coming right back where we want them … That focus on the economy and on re-opening and bringing America back is resonating with people.”
In Ohio, Jane Timken, the state party chair, said she sees no evidence of support for Trump slipping. Jennifer Carnahan, the chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, said the same. And Lawrence Tabas, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, went so far as to predict that Trump would not only carry his state, but beat Biden by more than 100,000 votes — more than twice the margin he mustered in 2016.
“Contrary to what may be portrayed in the media, there’s still a high level of support out there,” said Kyle Hupfer, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party. He described himself as “way more” optimistic than he was at this point in 2016.
The Republican Party apparatus that Trump heads in 2020 is considerably different than the one that looked at him warily in 2016. At the state level, many chairs who were considered insufficiently committed to the president were ousted and replaced with loyalists. But their assessments would be easier to dismiss as spin if the perception of Trump’s durability did not reach so far beyond GOP officialdom.
When pollsters ask Americans who they think will win the election — not who they are voting for themselves — Trump performs relatively well. And if anything, Trump’s field officers appear more bullish than Trump and some of his advisers. Even the president, while lamenting what he views as unfair treatment by his adversaries, has privately expressed concerns about his poll numbers and publicly seemed to acknowledge he is down.
Along with stupidity, the other possibility is that these people are saying Trump can do nothing and win because they want him to lose. In theory, he has completely transformed the entire agenda of the GOP, turning it into a nationalist party, and also in theory, the core of the party is still opposed to that. Some of them I’m sure don’t care and just want to win, but most of them, like Mitt Romney, use the party to exploit people financially, so they want this libertarian program.
What I will say as a prediction is that Trump’s win is far from assured.