“It’s a long time till November. November’s a lot further in the future than impeachment was in the past, and impeachment seems like it was forever ago,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), vice chairman of the Senate GOP conference, told HuffPost on Wednesday.
Trump’s standing with Americans has dropped sharply following his response to the nationwide protests over police brutality and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In its latest tracking poll on Wednesday, Gallup found Trump’s approval rating falling to 39%, a double-digit drop from two weeks ago when he stood at 49%. The collapse in the president’s approval was confirmed by other public opinion surveys, including ones conducted by Fox News, The Economist, Rasmussen, Morning Consult and CNN.
In an extraordinary move on Wednesday, Trump’s reelection campaign demanded that CNN retract and apologize for a recent poll that showed him well behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The poll showed Trump trailing Biden by 14 points, 41% to 55%, among registered voters.
Last week, Trump announced he had retained a pollster with a mixed history of success, McLaughlin & Associates, to push back against CNN’s polling, “which I felt were FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving,” he said. The pollster said the survey was biased against the president and offered an analysis that attempted to “unskew” its findings.
Trump’s increased focus on his sliding poll numbers follows a meeting last month in which he reportedly erupted at his campaign manager, Brad Parscale for his current standing the 2020 race.
But if Trump is increasingly worried about his reelection prospects, his allies on Capitol Hill aren’t showing it ― at least not publicly. Top Republican senators said it was far too early to be hitting the alarm bells given that the November election is still months away, and the economy has only begun to recover amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Ask me after the [party] conventions after both sides have had to make their case, then you’ll get a better idea of what the public says,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), meanwhile, said to check back with him about the state of the race in September, after the Labor Day holiday.
But one GOP senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, said he was confident his party would prevail in November.
“I’ve long predicted the president will be re-elected. I continue to believe that’s going to be the case,” Romney, a frequent critic of the president, told HuffPost.
Democrats’ prospects have begun to brighten in Senate contests in battleground states such as Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine and even Montana and Georgia. Democrats probably need to flip four seats and the White House to gain a majority in the upper chamber.
Trump on Wednesday met privately with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to discuss the Senate map at the White House. McConnell, who has urged GOP senators to stick with Trump in November or risk alienating his core supporters, told reporters afterward they had a “good discussion.”
While Democrats see plenty of reason for optimism, the battle for the Senate can often turn unpredictable. Most Senate candidates, for example, have yet to participate in debates that can turn the tide in fortunes for incumbents and challengers alike.
“Obviously you’d be foolish not to look at the current situation and think, ‘This is fine,’” said CNN commentator and former McConnell adviser Scott Jennings. “Still a lot of runway left out there and some undercurrents in the electorate that probably aren’t being picked up yet, too, that could cut Trump’s way. Democrats could also overreach, as they often do.”