President Donald Trump's reported comments disparaging military veterans as "losers" and "suckers" could prove politically deadly for him if they erode his support among veterans, argues CNN polling analyst Harry Enten.
According to Enten's analysis, Trump desperately needs to have veterans support him in numbers comparable to what they did in 2016, when he easily beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton among military voters.
"Trump would not be President right now if it were not for the military vote," Enten argues. "In Florida, for example, Trump would have been defeated by a little less than 5 points without military voters. He actually won the state by 1 point."
Other states where strong support from military voters put Trump over the top include Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Enten writes.
And even if Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign fails to win over any military voters, argues Enten, the story still forces the president to spend time dealing with it rather than driving home negative messages about Biden.
"Even if the polls don't move, Trump has wasted precious time on a storyline that isn't favorable to him," he concludes. "Trump is down in the polls nationally and in the swing states. Voters don't like Trump and never have since he first started running for president. His best chance of winning is probably for there to be negative attention placed on Biden."