White House reporter Jonathan Lemire said Republicans are growing nervous that the coronavirus surge could give Democrats an even greater advantage in the Nov. 3 election.
Democrats have turned out already in greater numbers than Republicans, and the Associated Press correspondent told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that President Donald Trump's team is uneasy about the dynamic that's shaping up.
"It is very much on the White House's minds, and they're definitely concerned," Lemire said. "They're following the same numbers we are, too, and they try to point as a rebuttal to the idea that there's been a wave this year of new GOP voter registrations, more Republicans who are registered to vote for the first time this year than Democrats."
"Their aides like to say, they point to the president's rallies -- it's a sign of enthusiasm, Joe Biden could never do this," he added. "First of all, Joe Biden is not trying to do this because he's monitoring and adhering to the CDC guidelines and it's possible that, yes, Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton before him, would not draw the crowds like Donald Trump does. He's unique in his ability to do that and there are other signs of enthusiasm."
More than 50 million Americans have already cast ballots in the presidential election, and experts predict a record turnout of about 65 percent of eligible voters.
"Look at the lines of early voting," Lemire said. "Are they all Democrats? Of course not. Some Republicans are voting early, but that would be the major display of Democrats' enthusiasm -- not large rallies, but rather turning out to vote and lining up sometimes for hours to vote early."
The president's campaign team circulated a poll on Air Force One showing that voters in three states -- Florida, Georgia and North Carolina -- who had not yet cast ballots were leaning heavily toward Trump.
"They believe that Democrats will vote early and this Republicans will turn out in huge numbers on Election Day, that's what they're trying to underscore," Lemire said. "They can still win this on Nov. 3."
But the resurgence of COVID-19 infections could throw up some obstacles in that path to victory.
"As the virus surges throughout the country, it will become trickier and more dangerous for people to vote in person on Nov. 3, which may keep Republican turnout down on that day," Lemire said, "and secondly, even if indeed more voters cast their ballots for President Trump on Nov. 3 than vote for Joe Biden on Nov. 3 it's far from a given it will be able to offset the huge early voting totals were seeing from Democrats. Republicans are very nervous about this."