Early this month, one senior White House official told The Daily Beast that their “nightmare scenario” would be for the president to slip beneath 40 percent support in a sustained string of public and private surveys—thus signaling that a previously unshakable base was starting to grow a bit disillusioned. Trump’s consistent—though perhaps unenviable—standing in the low 40s had for years remained an illustration of his enduring base and iron Republican support.
“Until then, I’m not a doomsayer,” this official said, referring to the nerve-racking 30s in national, and some state, polling.
In the time since that comment, multiple polls have shown Trump sliding into the 30s. Asked this week about the change, the same White House official simply responded, “This is not where any of us wanted to be at this point [in the election], but there is still time… to make up the difference.”
Some advisers lay the blame for recent poll numbers squarely at the weeks-long news coverage of the mass protests against institutional racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd, and how Trump has responded to it. “When race is in the news cycle and dominating the conversation, President Trump’s numbers always go down,” said a source close to the White House. “That’s just a fact.”