Senate Republicans are feeling high anxiety over President Trump’s aggressive response to nationwide civil unrest, which they fear is alienating middle-of-the-road voters who are crucial to keeping their majority after Nov. 3.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared at the beginning of the election cycle that winning over college graduates and women in the suburbs would be key to retaining the Senate majority in 2020.
With the election five months away, Senate Republicans worry that Trump is blowing up that strategy with his laser-like focus on his base instead of swing voters.
“The last week and a half has certainly raised the level of angst over the politics of the presidential race and consequences on the Senate. I think it’s just kind of become one thing after another. Initially the handling of COVID and now this,” said a Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss conversations with GOP colleagues.
GOP senators were already nervous about keeping their majority because of the administration’s slow response to the coronavirus crisis and several Trump gaffes, including his advice that ingesting disinfectant could treat COVID-19.
“There are a lot of people in the middle that are looking for calmness,” said a second GOP senator who asked for anonymity to voice concerns about Trump’s recent performance. “It’s the tone and the words he’s using that I think might harm us back home.”
The first GOP lawmaker said concerns about Trump’s performance are never raised in conference-wide meetings but that senators do talk about it in one-on-one conversations.