Republicans are terrified that Donald Trump will have a gruesome effect on congressional candidates in what they increasingly believe will be a historic electoral defeat.
The GOP establishment, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), rallied around Trump after he knocked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) out of the primary race last month — but recent controversies have softened their support.
A new poll shows Hillary Clinton holding a 12-point lead over the presumptive GOP nominee, while another found seven in 10 Americans hold an unfavorable view of the real estate developer and reality TV star.
That could spell doom for the Republicans’ hopes for retaking the White House — as well as their chances for maintaining control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress.
Several Republican insiders expressed their fears to The Hill, which reported that Trump’s campaign may have hit a wall.
“I think the tailspin could be really bad — historic proportions bad,” said Tony Fratto, who served as deputy press secretary during the George W. Bush administration. “I think it’ll be a historically bad loss. I’ve said that from the very beginning.”
Republicans who had backed Trump after he appeared to claim the nomination are now backing away from the presumptive nominee.
They worry that Trump, who has resisted GOP establishment suggestions to tone down the outrageous insults that appealed to Republican primary voters, will alienate party activists he’ll need in November.
That could have a disastrous effect on congressional races, many GOP strategists fear.
“Look, I mean, what could be going wrong with Donald Trump?” said GOP strategist Rick Wilson. “He is being out-raised by every possible fundraising metric. He is losing in the national polling averages. He is being crushed in the swing-state polls. He is being devastated in the polls in the states that he claims he is going to put into play, such as California, New Jersey and New York — and he is increasingly erratic.”
Wilson used colorful language to describe just how ghastly he thinks the election will be for Republicans.
“This is unlike an ordinary campaign where you focus on the top of the ticket,” Wilson said. “This year, instead of good things rolling down the hill, it’s like these candidates are at the bottom of a chute in a butcher’s shop.
“They’re going to be covered in gore,” he added. “It’s horrifying.”