This Is Really Bad News For Republicans

The ABC News poll that was released yesterday morning has sparked a lot of discussion. The top line is that Clinton is leading Trump by 12 points (50-38). While that might be a bit of an outlier, it’s not the first time a poll has found that Clinton’s lead has grown to double digits. But most poll aggregators have it at somewhere around 7-8%.

Beyond that, this is the item we should be paying attention to.

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

If that finding holds up – it means that not only does Donald Trump lose “bigly,” it has devastating repercussions for down-ballot Republicans. In other words, it is a worst case scenario for them.

Since the primary, Republicans running for office this election season have faced a big challenge. If they don’t support Trump, they risk losing his supporters. But if they do, they tie themselves to his most outrageous nativism, sexism and general unfitness for office. Those running in deeply red districts can perhaps afford to do the latter, while those who are running in more diverse districts/states have quite the dilemma on their hands. All that is for naught if registered Republicans who originally supported another candidate in the primary chose not to vote at all.

What will make this even more of a problem is that, as we’ve seen throughout this election, the Trump campaign chose to forgo building an actual ground game, which has typically been the tool that is responsible for get out the vote efforts. The decision was made to rely on RNC efforts in the states. But that has proven to be problematic as well. For example, this is what happened in the crucial state of Ohio.

Donald Trump’s Ohio campaign manager on Saturday renounced its relationship with the Ohio Republican Party’s top official, laying bare the long-simmering tensions over Trump’s candidacy within the state GOP.

Bob Paduchik, a longtime campaign operative in Ohio, sent a two-page letter to the state GOP’s central committee members on Saturday saying Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges no longer has a relationship with the campaign. The letter accuses Borges of exaggerating his relationship with Trump in media interviews, and undermining Trump’s efforts to win in Ohio in order to advance his own candidacy to replace Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

This is what happens when a house is divided against itself. What the ABC poll may have captured is how all of that is affecting Republican voters. If a significant number of those who have misgivings about the guy at the top of their ticket simply decide to stay home on November 8th, that is really bad news for down ballot Republicans. What we might be witnessing is the first indication of a real “wave” election. That’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.