Trump’s refusal to modify his base-only approach has had ramifications down the ballot. Senate Republicans, GOP operatives concede, could theoretically stand to benefit from presenting themselves to voters as a bulwark against a likely Biden presidency. But they’ve been remarkably reluctant to do so. And those strategists argue that it’s because they have concluded that their own fates are tied to the enthusiasm of Trump’s base.
“To the extent these [Senate] races remain a presidential referendum by proxy, Republicans carry all of Trump’s baggage in the eyes of his haters without necessarily generating the same enthusiasm or recognition among his supporters,” said Liam Donovan, a former aide at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Unless and until it becomes a choice between the candidates—or a check on full Democratic control—the Senate majority will only go as far as the president’s performance can carry it.”
But beyond the electoral calculations, there are mathematical ones. Even if Trump and congressional Republicans were to make overtures across party lines, it’s unclear if anyone would be receptive. The Daily Beast spent the weekend soliciting input from voters who backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 but were considering voting for Trump in 2020. Only a handful of individuals said they were in that camp.