CNN – During his rambling speech in the Rose Garden Tuesday, President Donald Trump pushed back on the idea that his campaign was flailing. “I think we have really good poll numbers,” he said. Twenty-four hours later, Trump removed his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and replaced him with Bill Stepien, a longtime political hand with ties to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. So, yeah. While there’s long been a massive disconnect between Trump’s public bluster and private worries, anger, and anxiety, the demotion of Parscale is a shining example of that chasm. The truth that any politician knows is that you don’t get rid of your campaign manager unless things are not going well. And you especially don’t get rid of your campaign manager 111 days before the election — unless things are going REALLY badly. Which, for Trump, they are. Remarkably so. A new Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday showed former Vice President Joe Biden with a massive 52% to 37% lead over the incumbent. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll also released Wednesday showed Biden up 11 on Trump. Polling in swing states like Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin show Biden comfortably ahead — and there’s even polling in typically red states like Arizona, Texas and Georgia that suggest Biden is competitive with Trump in those places.
of that chasm. The truth that any politician knows is that you don’t get rid of your campaign manager unless things are not going well. And you especially don’t get rid of your campaign manager 111 days before the election — unless things are going REALLY badly.Which, for Trump, they are. Remarkably so. A new Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday showed former Vice President Joe Biden with a massive 52% to 37% lead over the incumbent. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll also released Wednesday showed Biden up 11 on Trump. Polling in swing states like Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin show Biden comfortably ahead — and there’s even polling in typically red states like Arizona, Texas and Georgia that suggest Biden is competitive with Trump in those places.
Things have grown so dire for Trump that non-partisan political handicappers are now predicting a Democratic takeover of the Senate due to Trump’s current disastrous polling numbers. Talk of Republicans retaking the House majority is nonexistent. Every sign is pointing to an apocalyptic election for Republicans — one that could set the party back at the state and national level for years, if not decades.Trump, publicly, acknowledges none of this. Even in announcing the removal of Parscale and the promotion of Stepien, Trump sought to cast the 2020 election as a layup. “This one should be a lot easier as our poll numbers are rising fast, the economy is getting better, vaccines and therapeutics will soon be on the way, and Americans want safe streets and communities,” he wrote in a Facebook post on the moves.But, at some level, he knows how bad things are. This, from CNN’s writeup of Parscale’s removal, gets at that:“The future of Parscale, who had been lauded by the President and his allies as a digital guru who helped secure Trump’s first election effort and became his reelection campaign manager in early 2018, had been in serious doubt for weeks. In addition to the President’s lagging poll numbers, Trump was furious after a much-hyped return to the campaign trail fell flat at the end of June. A planned rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, fell well short of expectations after Parscale predicted massive crowds, not only inside the 19,000-seat arena but outside as well.”Now, it’s important to remember that the demotion of Parscale — he is reportedly expected to stay on in a diminished role as the head of the campaign’s digital operation — does not fundamentally alter the trajectory of the race or even of Trump’s reelection effort.
As all of the stories written about the campaign shakeup noted, Parscale may have had the title of campaign manager but Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, was always the real boss of the campaign. Kushner, as he was in the 2016 race, is the closest person to Trump — he is literally family — and is the final decider on most things. (Why, you ask, does Kushner not have the title of campaign manager? My educated guess: He doesn’t want the public responsibility if things go south because Trump is Trump, even Kushner gets overruled by him. Most candidates believe themselves to be the best political strategist they have and Trump is no different. In fact, he is more involved in the micro-pieces of the campaign than most candidates for national office. Then there’s this: The average person has no idea who Parscale is. Or Stepien. So moving them around within the campaign doesn’t change the fundamental problems that face Trump. His handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been an absolute disaster — in terms of public health and political reverberations. His tone-deaf response to the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in late May has amped up the tensions rather than quieted them. Even the economy, once considered Trump’s, uh, trump card, in the 2020 election, has turned against him. In the Quinnipiac poll, 50% said Biden would do a better job handling the economy while 45% said Trump would. That’s a reversal from a June Q poll that gave Trump a 51% to 45% edge over Biden on the economy.
Simply put: Things are bad for Trump. Very bad. It’s worth noting that Trump had three campaign managers in his 2016 race — Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort, and, finally, Kellyanne Conway. He managed to win anyway. Which, if you are looking for the silver-est possible lining in this dark cloud, might suggest that Trump is simply not bound by the traditional rules of politics.But shuffling his campaign staff won’t magically fix all the problems that plague his reelection bid. The moves amount to an acknowledgment by the President that the 2020 race is nowhere near where he wants it to be and that things need to change if he wants to have a chance at winning. Will he ever say that publicly? Of course not! He’ll continue to insist he is going to win easily — and regale audiences with stories of how no one said he could win in 2016. But the moves Trump made Wednesday night speak louder than any words he says publicly. And they say this: I’m in deep, deep trouble.
The article was originally published on CNN.