By most conventional indicators, Donald Trump is in danger of becoming a one-term president. The economy is a wreck, the coronavirus persists, and his poll numbers have deteriorated.
But throughout the Republican Party’s vast organization in the states, the operational approach to Trump’s re-election campaign is hardening around a fundamentally different view.
Interviews with more than 50 state, district and county Republican Party chairs depict a version of the electoral landscape that is no worse for Trump than six months ago — and possibly even slightly better. According to this view, the coronavirus is on its way out and the economy is coming back. Polls are unreliable, Joe Biden is too frail to last, and the media still doesn’t get it.
“The more bad things happen in the country, it just solidifies support for Trump,” said Phillip Stephens, GOP chairman in Robeson County, N.C., one of several rural counties in that swing state that shifted from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016. “We’re calling him ‘Teflon Trump.’ Nothing’s going to stick, because if anything, it’s getting more exciting than it was in 2016.”
This year, Stephens said, “We’re thinking landslide.”