Looking at the recent Trump polls, it’s clear this is been a very rough week for “The Donald.” In a 2016 campaign season that has already been a roller coaster ride in the polls, Donald Trump’s huge drop in a number of national and state polls is both shocking and not surprising at all. In a series of trademark Donald Trump statements, the Republican nominee has managed to squander the lead he enjoyed in most of the major polls only two weeks ago at the close of the Republican National Convention.
This whiplash inducing turnaround in the polls has been caused less by what Hillary Clinton has done than by what Donald Trump has said. From attacking the families of deceased military personnel and sniping at high ranking members within his own party, to kicking babies out of press conferences, Trump has done almost everything possible to encourage his own drop in the polls.
Certainly, Trump staffers – and the Republican Party as a whole – have to be deeply shaken as the new Trump polls role in. According to CNN, several major national polls confirm a massive shift in public opinion away from Trump and his insurgent campaign. The polls have pundits suggesting that even some normally red states like Georgia could now be in play.
As reported by the New York Times, the worst of the Trump polls for the Republican Party is the McClatchy-Marist survey, which shows a 15 point gap opening between the two candidates, with Clinton at 48 percent and Trump at 33 percent. This is a huge change from the previous polls conducted by McClatchy-Marist showing Clinton with just a three point lead over Trump. A new NBC/WSJ poll shows the Clinton lead at 10 percent.
If it were only the McClatchy-Marist or NBC/WSJ polls, the Trump campaign could argue that they are simply outliers or statistical flukes. But as the Washington Post mentions, virtually all Trump polls are trending in the same direction.
With the majority the Republicans have in the House of Representatives, it’s unlikely – but not impossible – that Speaker Paul Ryan needs to be concerned about losing Republican control of that body this election cycle. However, Trump’s poll numbers leave Mitch McConnell over in the Senate feeling much less secure. While only two Democratic Senate seats are at risk this year, Republicans have to be concerned about twelve.
Because of the election coattail effect, Trump polls like these recent ones create a startling vision of an election that would be an absolute disaster for the Republican Party. This is why so many Republicans running for reelection this year are working hard to keep their distance from Donald Trump.
Another Washington Post piece points to the example of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. By distancing himself from Trump, Toomey is managing to outperform Trump by 10 points in the polls. But these same polls show that he is still running one point behind his Democratic opponent. As Kennedy might have put it and Toomey is now realizing, a falling tide sinks all boats.
The polls began to go south for Trump following his response to the appearance of Khizr Khan and his wife on the stage at the Democratic National Convention. While most seasoned politicians would have had the experience – and common sense – to praise the fallen hero and to express respect for his family, this was apparently something Trump just couldn’t do.
Instead, Trump launched into a rant about being attacked by Khan and insisted that he too knew about sacrifice. Not satisfied to leave it at that, Trump then later implied that Khan’s wife only remained silent on the podium because she had been told to by her Muslim husband.
These highly offensive statements by Trump and his refusal to apologize forced virtually everyone else in the Republican Party – including Sen. John McCain and Speaker Ryan – into the awkward position of once again denouncing his statements while not denouncing their support for Trump himself. How long they can maintain this delicate balancing act is an open question.
Trump further damaged himself this week by reopening old arguments with several other Republicans. For example, even though Ryan finally – if somewhat reluctantly – endorsed Trump, Trump this week refused to do the same for Ryan in his race in Wisconsin. This points to a defining characteristic of Trump’s, which is his willingness to hold a petty grudges.
Combined with the suddenly abysmal Trump polls, these incidents have the Republican Party in full panic mode. Many longtime Republicans have moved beyond just refusing to endorse Trump and are now openly supporting Hillary Clinton. For instance, longtime Republican donor and business executive Meg Whitman announced that she will not only vote for Hillary Clinton, she will actively campaign for her. On the whole, things don’t look good right now for the Trump campaign.
[Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images]