Senate Republicans looking at polls showing GOP incumbents losing ground are concerned that President Trump‘s handling of the pandemic has put their majority in danger.
The two biggest criticisms of Trump that GOP lawmakers express privately are that his administration took too long to deploy coronavirus tests and that the president’s statements and demeanor have been too cavalier or flippant.
The biggest headwind Republicans face this fall is the faltering national economy, which now has a 14.7 percent unemployment rate, according to a Friday report by the Labor Department.
While Republican senators acknowledge that Trump’s popular support is tough to poll, some are concerned about surveys showing his approval rating below that of all 50 governors and other world leaders.
Compounding their anxiety are recent polls showing Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), a once-safe incumbent, now trailing his Democratic opponent, Gov. Steve Bullock, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who was also seen as cruising to reelection, in a dead heat with Democrat Theresa Greenfield.
Democrats need to net three seats and the White House to win the Senate majority.
“There’s concern,” said one Republican lawmaker describing apprehension over Trump’s job performance over the past two months.
The lawmaker acknowledged that Trump is “hard to poll” and that he has defied pollsters’ predictions he would lose to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. But the Republican also pointed to recent data that shows “every governor and every world leader is way up the polls but Trump isn’t.”
A recent survey of 22,000 voters in all 50 states by Harvard, Northeastern and Rutgers universities found voters in every state are more likely to approve of their governor’s job performance than Trump’s or Congress’s.