As I’ve been reporting, multiple state-level polls and national approval ratings paint a dismal image of Trump’s re-election chances at the moment, especially given the relative strength of the economy. I’ve argued that, while hardly definitive or even predictive at this stage in the race, this data suggests that Trump has much more of an uphill battle to fight on the way to 2020 than conventional wisdom suggests.
And according to a new report from the New York Times, the Trump campaign’s internal polling presents a starkly similar picture.
It’s so bad, in fact, that the president reportedly told his aides to lie about the poll results:
After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.
Not explicitly mentioned in the report is the clear fact that at least one aide likely disobeyed these orders by leaking the details to the Times.
Of course, Trump was polling pretty terribly throughout all of 2016 — and yet still pulled of victory by a tiny margin — so nothing is set in stone. But it’s clear Team Trump has reasons to be worried. Separate reports have found that Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner is also worried about the campaign’s fundraising.
The new report also found that Trump has little interest in his own campaign. Told about the millions spent on online advertising, he was more interested in TV ads, the report said. And while he reportedly wants to oversee the campaign’s music list, he’s uninterested in the campaign budget.
What does he like to focus on when it comes to 2020? Attacking former Vice President Joe Biden.
“He has tried workshopping versions of those critiques as Twitter attacks, referring to Mr. Biden as ‘sleepy’ and ‘swampman,’ and blaming him for the 1994 crime bill that critics say increased mass incarceration,” the report said. “West Wing aides have been discussing another criminal justice reform event as a vehicle to underscore Mr. Biden’s support of the crime bill.”