Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has stretched his lead over President Trump in post-debate polls, leaving panicked Republicans to warn the party could be headed for heavy losses on Nov. 3. Biden has opened up his widest national lead in months in both the RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight averages with 29 days to go until Election Day. Several recent polls have found Biden leading by landslide margins nationally.
New polls of Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania, a potential tipping-point state to get Biden to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, show Biden building a substantial lead.
Trump is struggling mightily with the groups that powered his 2016 election victory, including seniors, independents and suburban voters. Women are breaking for Biden in huge numbers.
Republicans are worried that Trump is headed for a resounding defeat that could decimate the party’s ranks in the Senate, where the GOP is frantically working to protect its majority against a wave of Democratic spending.
“Republicans are in big trouble in my opinion,” said former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).
“In almost all of the swing states allegedly in play ... the deciding vote will be independent women. That vote has historically been center-right, but these folks are totally frustrated with the president. They find his style and demeanor to be inconsistent and he’s not getting that vote anywhere. That’s the swing vote ... and I think he’s lost them. People have made up their minds. He’s in big trouble. It will be a tough election for the people that are on the ticket with him.”
When asked if he thought it was too late for Trump to turn things around, Gregg replied: “Yes.”
The new polls do not fully account for the president’s three-day hospitalization with the coronavirus. Trump returned to the White House on Monday evening, although his doctor at Walter Reed Medical Center, Sean Conley, said he’s “not out of the woods yet.”
Other world leaders, such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have received brief sympathy bumps in the polls after falling ill with COVID-19.
But Republicans are not expecting Trump to get any meaningful bounce, pointing to polls that show the public widely disapproves of the president’s handling of the coronavirus.
An ABC News-Ipsos poll released Sunday found that 72 percent of adults said the president did not take “the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health.” The same percentage said Trump did not take the “risk of contracting the virus seriously enough.”
“This isn't going to be treated by voters as something external that happened to Trump and should evoke sympathy,” said one GOP pollster who requested anonymity to speak freely. “Voters overwhelmingly think this is something Trump brought on himself.”
The president downplayed the coronavirus from Walter Reed on Monday.
“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” Trump tweeted. “Don’t let it dominate your life.”
The coronavirus has ripped through the West Wing, the president’s campaign and the GOP ranks in the Senate.
First lady Melania Trump, White House adviser Hope Hicks, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany and former White House special assistant Kellyanne Conway have all tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days.
On the political side, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel are sick.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is up for reelection, have all contracted the virus.
Some of those who are sick traveled with the president or helped him prepare for the debate. Others attended a Rose Garden ceremony to unveil Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, where they were photographed hugging and not wearing masks.
“The president got the virus and a large percentage of people around the White House got it because they acted stupidly and didn’t follow the protocols that most Americans are following,” Gregg said. “Most Americans are wearing masks and social distancing. They’re not hugging. But he and his staff didn’t do what they’re supposed to do and so they’re paying the price for being foolish.”
The post-debate polling for Trump has been about as bad as it can possibly be for a major-party nominee.
A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal national poll found Biden leading by 14 points, up from 8 points last month.
Biden was viewed as the clear winner in a debate that will be remembered for Trump’s repeated interruptions. Forty-nine percent said Biden did a better job at the debate, compared to 24 percent for Trump.
Biden’s favorability rating in the poll has gone up in each of the past four surveys, going from being underwater by 10 points to being positive by 2 points.
The Democratic nominee has run up a 27-point lead among seniors, who are among the highest-risk groups susceptible to serious cases of the coronavirus.
In Pennsylvania, one of three former “blue wall” states Trump won narrowly in 2016, two new surveys show Biden leading by 7 points.
Biden's leads in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are outside the margin of error in most polls.
Trump will need to win at least one of those states, while also running the table in states that look like tossups, including Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio and Georgia. There have been recent polls showing Biden with narrow leads in all of those states.
Biden will travel to Florida on Monday and Arizona later this week. A new post-debate survey from The New York Times and Siena College finds Biden leading Trump by 5 points in Florida. The same poll found Biden ahead by 8 points in Arizona, with Democrat Mark Kelly leading Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) by double digits.
GOP senators up for reelection in traditionally red states, such as South Carolina, Alaska and Montana, are fighting for their political lives in closer than anticipated contests.
Republican senators in more traditional battlegrounds, such as Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina and Arizona, are in contests that appear to be going down to the wire.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Cory Garner (R-Colo.) are among the most vulnerable in the Senate as they seek reelection in states Biden is expected to win.
“Just as important as the president’s polls are the polls for the Senate candidates, and I heard many of them suffered a big drop last week in the six or seven most competitive races,” said veteran GOP operative Ed Rollins, the chairman of the Great America PAC, a top outside group supporting the president’s reelection.
“That’s driven by the president’s numbers ... there’s just no question the public perception is that Biden won the first debate.”