The admission—the disbelief—offered a brief window inside Trump's brain before the overwhelming devastation of such a prospect settled in. "Suburban women, will you please like me? I saved your damn neighborhood, okay?" Trump said, pleading with a group of voters that have almost singlehandedly made Democrats the odds-on favorites to win the White House. Trump then acknowledged that his unparalleled nastiness wasn't playing so well with the bloc. "I don't have that much time to be that nice," he explained, "Ya know, I can do it, but I gotta go quickly."
Around this time in 2016, Trump still had enough campaign advisers who weren't dyed-in-the-wool sycophants that they managed to mostly muzzle him in the waning weeks of the cycle. That lower profile actually helped him, particularly when then-FBI Director James Comey momentarily reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton. But now, the best his loyalists can do as Trump resumes campaigning is tell outlets like the New York Times that they're "sending him out with a teleprompter." Aces. Great to know they wrote some groveling to suburban women into the script. Carry on.
Ever since Trump crashed and burned in the debate two weeks back and his already-dismal numbers slumped even further, Democrats have been holding their breath. Is it real? Could Trump really be solidly down by double-digits with Joe Biden looking muscular in the Rust Belt and even running ahead in some Sunbelt states that could give Democrats a decisive sweep? Now, a week-plus into those polling trends, the answer appears to be, yes, it may actually be real.
It's not one poll, it's most polls ... across the country ... in multiple battlegrounds ... in crucial demographics. The Times, which is now tracking nearly every poll released, has had Biden's national lead in the polling aggregate at +10 for about a handful of days, as has FiveThirtyEight.com. The NYT battleground aggregates also continue to be promising (in order from closest margin of victory in 2016):
- Pennsylvania/Biden +8
- Wisconsin/Biden +9
- Florida/Biden +4
- Minnesota/Biden +10
- Nevada/Biden +7
- Arizona/Biden +5
- North Carolina/Biden +3
- Georgia/Biden +2
- Ohio/Biden +1
- Texas/Trump +2
- Iowa/Biden +2
But it's also not just the polling. Trump's travel schedule this week is all defense as he tries to hold on to regions and states to which he shouldn't be devoting much time this late in the game: West Pennsylvania (Johnstown), Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.
Oh, and by the way, as Trump hits states that are also critical to the GOP effort to maintain control of the Senate, don't expect to see those vulnerable Republican senators campaigning alongside him. They are too busy running for the hills, literally trying to edit him out of their lives and voters' minds in every campaign ad they cut.
Off the campaign trail, Trump is starting to assume an early lame duck posture—that is, he’s losing his juice in Washington. Trump has apparently lost his bid to get not just one, but two fabricated reports intended to smear his Democratic rival. Last week, Attorney General Bill Barr made it clear his report on the origins of the Russia investigation wouldn't be dropping before the election, and this week it emerged that his "unmasking" investigation was also a total flop, finding no “substantive wrongdoing” by Obama administration officials.
All that boils down to the subtext that the career prosecutors tapped to lead those investigations—U.S. Attorney John Durham and recently resigned U.S. Attorney John Bash—likely decided they didn't want to permanently sully their reputations by delivering dirt for a guy who’s on a path to defeat.
Finally, back on Capitol Hill, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is now ignoring Trump entirely. Even as Trump desperately pushes for a “BIG” stimulus deal that he thinks could boost his campaign, McConnell is preparing to put a so-called skinny bill up for a CYA vote in the Senate that will probably fail. McConnell hasn’t gone to the trouble of lining up the support of his dysfunctional caucus, he simply wants his endangered members to be able to say they voted in favor of providing much-needed relief to struggling Americans. House Democrats are the ones who have actually succeeded in passing several stimulus bills, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sunk many hours into trying to craft a deal with the White House. Frankly, McConnell was never keen on taking more stimulus votes, but the GOP senators on the verge of losing their seats clearly convinced him otherwise—not to mention the fact that at his own debate this week he giggled through a conversation about his lack of action on a stimulus bill.
But bottom line, it doesn’t matter where you look, Trump looks exceedingly weak. Good thing that teleprompter has him entirely on message.