In recent weeks, Trump has mostly stuck to his usual talking points, attacking the “fake news” media and slamming his political opponents. Notably, he has been trying to revive the Hillary Clinton email scandal, repeatedly going after the former secretary of state.
He has tried to attack Biden in a similar way, accusing the Democrat and his son, Hunter, of corruption. The president has also amplified conspiracy theories, including one that claims al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden’s 2011 killing was a “hoax.”
None of these familiar talking points have helped him catch up to Biden, polling suggests.
A Marist College survey showed Trump trailing Biden by double digits. Though the results showed that the commander-in-chief enjoys strong approval ratings and overwhelming support from Republicans, it also found that he has failed to expand his base, showing Biden with a 21-point advantage among independents.
An NBC News–Wall Street Journal poll suggested that Trump is a deeply polarizing figure, with 46 percent of respondents saying they have a “very negative” impression of him. Only 30 percent said the same of Biden.
According to some Republican operatives, Trump’s refusal to depart from his 2016 strategy won’t help him win reelection.
“He is not running against Hillary Clinton, which is unfortunate for him because she was massively unpopular. He is doing what he did in 2016, and it worked, but I just don’t see it getting him any extra votes,” strategist Dan Judy said.
“When there is a conspiracy theory about the death of Osama bin Laden you can tweet, why talk about the economy? He is not doing himself any favors,” Judy added.
Polling shows that the economy is one of Trump’s few remaining bright spots, given that he consistently outperforms Biden on that issue. Because of this, there is “widespread belief” among Republicans — and even some Democrats — that he could win reelection by steering the conversation in that direction, according to The Hill.
GOP operative Brad Blakeman, who served in former President George W. Bush’s White House, argued that Trump should pivot back to the economy before it’s too late.
“I think the best argument is, look at my results and not the rhetoric…. ‘You might not like the way I say things, but at least you have to give me credit for the things I have done,” Blakeman said, adding that many undecided voters would be more receptive to Trump’s message if he outlined how he plans on improving their lives amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, some Republicans reportedly believe that Trump’s slide in the polls could further endanger vulnerable GOP senators, allowing the Democratic Party to take control of the upper chamber.