Thursday, April 30, 2020


Reuters, Axios, CNN and The New York Times are among the news outlets reporting that President Trump lashed out at his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, for reporting on polls showing Trump trailing Joe Biden in key battleground states. In his usual fashion, Trump insists that he doesn't believe the bad news while blaming other people for the fact that it's bad.

“I don’t believe the polls,” Trump said. “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.”
The Times:
Mr. Trump, according to multiple people familiar with the exchange, erupted during a phone call with his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, two days after he was presented with polling data from his campaign and the Republican National Committee that showed him trailing Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, in several crucial states.

He lashed out at Mr. Parscale and said it was other people’s fault that there had been fluctuations in a race they had all seen as his to lose just two months ago. At one point, Mr. Trump said he would not lose to Mr. Biden, insisted the data was wrong and blamed the campaign manager for the fact that he is down in the polls, according to one of the people familiar with the conversation. Mr. Trump even made a threat to sue Mr. Parscale, mentioning the money he has made while working for the president, another person familiar with the call said, although the threat did not appear to be serious.
I'm fascinated by the fact that "all" involved in the campaign saw the race as "his to lose just two months ago." There's more on that sense of confidence in the Times story.
In the phone call last week, ... Mr. Trump demanded to know how it was possible that a campaign that had been projecting strength and invincibility for two years was polling behind a candidate he viewed as extremely weak and, at the moment, largely invisible from daily news coverage.
"Projecting strength and invincibility for two years"? Trump's numbers were awful for most of the past two years -- in fact, for most of his presidency (though they've never been at late-second-term-Bush levels).

I keep telling you that Trump's job approval numbers are actually somewhat better than they've been for most of his presidency. He's currently at 44.9% approval in the Real Clear Politics average; that's down from 47.4% on April 1 -- but it's a level he never reached between February 9, 2017, and the end of 2019.

And the same is true for Trump's numbers against Joe Biden. Real Clear Politics says that Biden is beating Trump by 6.3 points, but the lead was double digits at various points in the fall of 2019. Early polls aren't worth much, but Biden has beaten Trump in nearly early survey going back to 2017, frequently by landslide margins.

It appears that Trump thinks he's invincible because his rally crowds assure him he is. Aides have been trying to tell Trump that he should end his daily briefings, but, according to CNN, "Trump has complained to aides that his restricted travel has hurt his numbers, not the briefings." And we have this:
"Hopefully in the not too distant future we'll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other. I can't imagine a rally where you have every fourth seat full, every six seats are empty for every one that you have full, that wouldn't look too good. No, I hope that we're going to be able to do some good old fashioned 25,000-person rallies where everyone's going wild because they love our country," the president told reporters during a business roundtable discussion.
Trump is an egomaniac, but his egomania doesn't come naturally -- it needs constant reinforcement, which it's not getting now. (The briefings give Trump the opportunity to humiliate people, and that helps. And today Trump is on a massive tweetstorm, with a couple dozen tweets posted in the past hour.)

Meanwhile, the campaign has to mollify the president with polling news that isn't so bad, according to the Times.
In an effort to buoy his spirits, some Trump advisers have flagged for him surveys that are rosier than most Republican internal polling, including a recent CNBC poll that showed him virtually tied with Mr. Biden in six battleground states, including Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin....

On Tuesday, Mr. Parscale, who had not seen Mr. Trump in person in a month, flew to Washington from Florida to pay an in-person visit to the president, according to three people familiar with the meeting, and they patched up the dispute. Mr. Parscale showed Mr. Trump new campaign polling data in which the president’s standing had climbed, according to a person familiar with the visit.
Who knows what Parscale and his team had to do to the poll wording to get the numbers back up. But they had to do it, because the toddler president is cranky, and I'm sure that threat to fire Pascale wasn't completely in jest. (In June of last year, Trump fired several pollsters because their numbers showed then that the president was losing badly to Biden -- not exactly evidence that there have been two years of invincibility. Other pollsters were retained at the time, presumably because their numbers made Trump look better.)

And yes, in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century, what's important to Trump is having people around who are "buoying his spirits."

All this is happening -- Trump throwing a tantrum and saying Make my numbers go up NOW NOW NOW! -- even though the president is capable of thinking more than ten minutes ahead. The Times reports:
But Mr. Trump, increasingly anxious about losing the election, has also told his advisers he is worried about hitting Mr. Biden too hard too soon, fearing that they could risk knocking him out of the race altogether. Mr. Trump has continued to see himself as able to determine the outcome of the Democratic primary contest, aides said, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Trump thought he could will the coronavirus into non-existence, so I suppose it's no surprise that he thinks he can single-handedly nullify the results of the Democratic primaries.

But this, at least, suggests that Trump can think ahead:
For now, Mr. Trump’s campaign is not airing television ads, the only kind the president cares about. The president nixed a series of ads the campaign was set to air that tried to portray Mr. Biden as close to China; one adviser said this was because Mr. Trump thinks it is too early for such a tough blow.
Or does it?
Another adviser said the concern was more basic: Mr. Trump did not like the visuals in the ads, which featured images of Mr. Biden when he was younger.
If I'm reading that right, he rejected the Biden ad because Biden looked young. In this election, only Trump is allowed to look young! Even in footage from decades ago!


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