Severe warnings for the White House, the Republicans before the elections
WASHINGTON (AP) – The forecast for President Donald Trump and his party was bleak.
At an informational meeting after Labor Day in the White House, a senior Republican pollster told senior staff that the determining factor in the elections would not be the improvement of the economy or the steady increase in job creation. It would be how voters feel about Trump. And the majority of the electorate, including a considerable percentage of Republican voters, do not feel comfortable with the president, according to a poll by Neil Newhouse, which covered dozens of pages.
Newhouse's report came amid a gloomy mood among Republican officials as the November election approaches. Party leaders were already concerned that an increase in enthusiasm among Democrats and Trump's contempt on the part of moderate Republicans would put the House out of reach. But some Republicans now fear that their majority in the Senate is also in danger, a scenario that was unthinkable a few months ago given the favorable Senate map for the Republican Party.
"For Republican candidates to win in unstable states, they need all the voters who support President Trump, plus a portion of those who do not," said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. "That is threading a very narrow strategic needle."
Operatives in both parties say that Republicans still have an advantage in the struggle for control of the Senate. But Republican Party officials are increasingly concerned that nominees in conservative states such as Missouri and Indiana are performing poorly, while careers in Tennessee and Texas, which should be exaggerated for Republicans, are close.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set off an alarm last week, warning that each of the Senate's competitive races would be "like a knife fight in an alley."
Part of the public debate among Republicans seems to be strategic, as party officials try to motivate both voters and donors. Many moderate Republican voters "do not believe there is anything at stake in this election," according to the documents that Newhouse presented to White House officials. He attributed that belief, in part, to contempt for public polls, since most polls showed that Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Newhouse and the White House did not comment on the meeting in early September. The Associated Press obtained a copy of Newhouse's presentation, and two Republicans with knowledge of the meeting discussed details about the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter publicly.
In the White House, anxiety over midterm exams has been rising for months, as polls increasingly show a challenging environment for the Republican Party and greater Democratic enthusiasm. The large number of competitive races in both the House of Representatives and the Senate is stretching cash reserves and forcing difficult calculations on where to deploy resources and substitutes. And there are growing fears that the coalition of voters that Trump delivered to the White House will not come out in the medium term.
Even if those voters appear in large numbers, Republicans may still fall short. The poll presented to White House officials, which was commissioned by the Republican National Committee, showed that Trump's loyal supporters make up about a quarter of the electorate. Another quarter is made up of Republicans who like Trump's policies, but not the president himself, and do not seem motivated to back Republican candidates. And about half of the expected mid-term voters are Democrats encouraged by their opposition to the president.
White House aides say Trump regularly receives reports on the political landscape and is aware of the increasingly grim polls, although he has predicted a "red wave" for Republicans on Twitter and campaign rallies. Attendees say that Trump's sober briefings with Republican Party officials are sometimes offset by frequent conversations with a group of outside advisors who paint a more sunny picture of the electoral landscape and remind the president of his victory in 2016
The paradox for Republicans is that most Americans are largely satisfied with the economy, according to numerous surveys. But the party has struggled to keep the economy focused on the center of the electoral debate. Trump continues to highlight other issues, including his frustration with the investigation of special lawyer Robert Mueller and his intense anger with the unflattering descriptions of his presidency in a book by journalist Bob Woodward and an anonymous editorial by a senior government official published in the New York Times He surprised some sponsors on Thursday when he disputed the death toll in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria last year, just as another storm rushed towards the east coast.
Newhouse told White House officials that Trump could appeal to moderates and independents by emphasizing that a Democratic majority would be out of the mainstream on issues such as the abolition of ICE and government-funded health care. Other Republican strategists have offered candidates similar advice.
Karl Rove, who served as the chief political strategist of President George W. Bush, said that if Republicans reject their Democratic rivals for immigration or in favor of high government spending on health care, "that is a toxic mixture for the soft Republicans. " and independent Republicans. "
In his most recent campaign appearances, Trump promoted his predictions for a Republican wave and warned his followers that a Democratic majority in Congress would have consequences. But he focused less on the political implications of the Democrats to regain control of Congress and more on the impact on his presidency, including the possibility of impeachment.
"If it happens, it's your fault, because you did not go out to vote," Trump said of the possibility of being accused. "You did not go out to vote, that's the only way it could happen."
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