The COVID-19 outbreak has drastically altered the course of U.S. politics, forcing the federal government to grapple with an unprecedented national crisis. According to a Saturday report from The New York Times, some Republican Party insiders are worried that President Donald Trump's response to the crisis might cost them the White House and the Senate.
Neither public nor internal polling are encouraging for the GOP, which now fears Trump's "erratic" handling of the crisis could lead to a Democratic blue wave, according to the report. But it is not just the polling that is concerning for the Republican Party. The Democrats raised "substantially" more money for congressional races. Big money donors and various super PACs are gearing up to throw their weight behind former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee.
According to the report, Trump's Thursday press conference at the White House was the breaking point for some Republicans. During the briefing, the president made controversial remarks about heat, light, and disinfectant being used to treat COVID-19 and later had to walk them back.
Another major reason for concern is that the economy is crashing.
According to Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster, the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the political landscape.
"With the economy in free-fall, Republicans face a very challenging environment and it's a total shift from where we were a few months ago. Democrats are angry, and now we have the foundation of the campaign yanked out from underneath us," he said.
Trump's allies and advisers have reportedly not been able to curb the president's worst impulses, and their "interventions" have not been successful. According to Republican Rep. Tim Cole of Oklahoma, the president needs to change his tone.
"You got to have some hope to sell people. But Trump usually sells anger, division and 'we're the victim,'" he said.
Rep. Peter King of New York echoed Cole, saying that Trump should "focus on the positive" and ensure that Americans know the government is prepared to handle another potential outbreak of the virus.
Polling suggests that Trump is vulnerable in a number of crucial states. According to an Ipsos survey released earlier this week, Biden is winning in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
"He's got to run very close for us to keep the Senate," Republican consultant Charles R. Black Jr. told the NYT.
But not all Republicans are concerned about Trump's reelection prospects. Some reportedly believe that Biden cannot handle the spotlight and think Trump will be able to pitch himself as a competent leader capable of rebuilding the economy.