"I'm not losing to Joe Biden": Campaign confronted Trump with "grim" polling data to try to get him to cancel daily briefings

The funniest thing about this intervention is that it began last Wednesday, the day before he launched into his already legendary spiel at the briefing about “cleaning” the body internally, possibly with some sort of disinfectant.

Imagine if he hadn’t been cautioned before then by his own advisors to think about reining it in. What the hell would have he said on Thursday instead? “If you have a fever, try a little Clorox down the hatch. What do you have to lose?”

The Times was the first paper to report bad news from polling by GOP outfits. “Republicans were taken aback this past week by the results of a 17-state survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee,” it claimed in a story published over the weekend, insisting that the data showed Trump “struggling” in battleground states and likely to lose the election absent an economic revival. The polling by his own campaign also showed an “erosion of support,” allegedly. Now here’s WaPo largely confirming those details:

One call on Wednesday — with Parscale patched in from his home in Florida and McDaniel from her home in Michigan — was designed to present grim polling data to the president to encourage him to reduce the frequency of coronavirus briefings or to stop taking questions, after seeing his numbers slip for several weeks, officials said.

Trump resisted the pleas, saying people “love” the briefings and think he is “fighting for them,” a person with knowledge of the Wednesday conversation said. Trump has long been distrustful of polling data presented to him when the numbers are not positive, aides say.

The two polls given to Trump — one from the Republican National Committee and another from the Trump campaign — both showed Trump trailing Biden in key swing states amid the coronavirus crisis, officials said. His political team has grown more concerned in recent weeks, as the briefings had become more combative while the economy has cratered and coronavirus deaths have continued to rise.

The only people who love the briefings are people who’d love them even if he got up there and made armpit fart noises for 45 minutes, but it’s not a surprise that he’d have trouble grasping that. Asking him to believe that not everyone enjoys watching him vent about his personal grievances is like asking him to believe that not everyone loves those anti-lockdown protests Fox keeps trying to promote for him. You’re never going to convince him that his instincts might be errant. Even the Thursday episode involving the disinfectant remarks didn’t shame him so thoroughly as to quit the briefings once and for all. He was back at it on Monday.

CNN’s sources are also whispering about POTUS ranting over internal polling last week, and they have the same curious detail that WaPo’s story does. Both claim that at one point Trump threatened to sue his own campaign manager, Brad Parscale.

Within moments, the President was shouting — not at the aides in the room, but into the phone — at his campaign manager Brad Parscale, three people familiar with the matter told CNN. Shifting the blame away from himself, Trump berated Parscale for a recent spate of damaging poll numbers, even at one point threatening to sue Parscale. It’s not clear how serious the President’s threat of a lawsuit was…

“He’s p*ssed because he knows he messed up in those briefings,” one Republican close to the White House said of Trump lashing out.

Parscale and Trump allegedly buried the hatchet on Friday. As for the lawsuit threat, WaPo also wasn’t sure if it was said in jest or not. One would think it had to be — but then remember who we’re talking about. The man relishes a frivolous lawsuit threat like few other pleasures in life.

We don’t need the RNC’s or the campaign’s internal data to have a sense of the state of the race. The RCP head-to-head data is clear. Nationally: Biden +6.3. Michigan: Biden +5.5. Wisconsin: Biden +2.7. Pennsylvania: Biden +6.7. Florida: Biden +3.2. Arizona: Biden +4.4. North Carolina: Trump +0.3, although the last two polls there have had Biden ahead, the last one by five points. None of those states show a huge break lately towards the Democrat but his lead’s a tiny bit thicker in some than it was a few months ago. As for this, it comes from a lefty pollster in a state that will almost certainly go red in November but it’s another piece of evidence lately that the trend isn’t great:

All Biden needs to win the White House is to flip Michigan and Pennsylvania plus any other state listed above, assuming he holds all of Hillary’s states from 2016. The president is playing defense this fall.

Look on the bright side, though. If he’s within a handful of points in every major battleground despite a mishandled pandemic *and* unprecedented economic collapse, there’s nowhere for him to go but up. He has a granite polling floor of 44 percent or so, no matter what he does. An economic rebound later this year plus some unexpected good news about vaccines could get him to 50.

In lieu of an exit question, I’ll leave you with this.

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