GOP leaders reportedly fear that Trump’s aggressive response to the nationwide protests over George Floyd’s death could help the Democrats take control of the upper chamber. The president’s attempt to rally his base could backfire and potentially allow the Democratic Party to make inroads with a number of key voting blocs, some Republicans fear.
A Republican senator said that Trump’s mishandling of the public health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus coupled with his response to the demonstrations could spell trouble for the GOP.
“The last week and a half has certainly raised the level of angst over the politics of the presidential race and consequences on the Senate. I think it’s just kind of become one thing after another. Initially the handling of COVID and now this.”
A second GOP senator echoed his colleague, pointing to Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric.
“There are a lot of people in the middle that are looking for calmness. It’s the tone and the words he’s using that I think might harm us back home,” they said.
Some Republicans have shared their concerns publicly. Vulnerable senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have both criticized the president amid ongoing protests. Collins criticized Trump for ordering security forces to crack down on protesters in front of the White House, and Murkowski praised former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for speaking out against the commander-in-chief.
Similarly, Senate Majority Whip John Thune called on Trump to “respond in a calm way” to the protests. Thurne pointed to Trump’s tweets, saying that the president should strive to “strike a tone” that shows he understands why so many Americans are frustrated.
As The Hill noted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has long warned that Republicans need to make inroads with suburban women and college graduates in order to keep control of the upper chamber.
According to a CNN analysis published in May, Democrats are “slight favorites” to win control of the Senate. In order to do so, they would have to win three seats if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the White House or four seats in case Trump wins reelection. The analysis concluded that the Democrats’ chances of winning at least three seats are around 60 percent.
Most recent polls show Trump trailing Biden, both nationwide and in battleground states. Apparently concerned over his standing in key states, Trump reportedly held an emergency meeting with his top advisers earlier this week.