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Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide

Republicans are growing increasingly concerned about poll numbers that show a rising Democratic wave just four weeks before Election Day as President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE suffers one of the most brutal two-week stretches of his first term at precisely the wrong moment.

For months, Republicans and Democrats alike have confidently predicted that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden offers support to union organizing efforts Senate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE’s lead in national and battleground state polls would tighten.

But after a new string of jarring numbers, some Republicans are beginning to fear that voters hesitant to say they will back Trump are not coming home and that the few remaining undecided voters are breaking decidedly against him — and the Republican Party as a whole.

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“The conventional wisdom among Republican strategists and pollsters was that a natural tightening tends to occur post-Labor Day,” said Ken Spain, a longtime Republican strategist. “The events over the course of the last few days have thrown that into chaos.”

In just the last two weeks, Trump has suffered a steady drumbeat of bad news: The New York Times reported he paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the White House and during his first year as president. 

The number of Americans who have died from the coronavirus topped 200,000. 

Trump has refused to say he would peacefully cede power in the event he loses the election. 

His announcement of a new nominee to fill a Supreme Court seat became an apparent coronavirus superspreader event, after Trump, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden picks up where she left off The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden navigates pressures from Dems Former first lady launches 'Office of Melania Trump' MORE, two U.S. senators and others contracted the virus. Trump spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after requiring supplemental oxygen at the White House.

In the midst of it all, Trump blew his opportunity to change the trajectory of the presidential contest with a bombastic, haranguing performance on the debate stage with Biden in which Trump declined to denounce white supremacy.

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In what has been a remarkably stable political environment, polling is beginning to show substantial movement away from the GOP. 

A poll conducted for CNN, released on Tuesday, showed Biden leading Trump by a 57 percent to 41 percent margin. An NBC-Wall Street Journal survey released over the weekend showed Biden ahead by 14 points. Even Rasmussen, the Republican-leaning pollster that Trump so often touts, found Biden ahead by 8 in their most recent survey. 

Virtually every battleground poll is breaking against Trump as well. Recent surveys put Biden well ahead in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire. Trump leads by small margins in usually solidly Republican states like Texas, Missouri and South Carolina. Internal Republican polls show Trump only narrowly leading in states like Montana and Kansas.

“These last three weeks have just felt terrible,” said Jai Chabria, a Republican strategist in Ohio. “It feels like the Democrats have momentum going into this last month, certainly, but I don’t think anyone knows what that means.”

Most Republicans pointed to Trump’s debate performance as the final straw in many voters’ minds. While his core supporters may have loved Trump’s fiery attacks on Biden and his family, those who were anxious or undecided about backing Trump decidedly did not.

“People don’t want him in their living room for four more years,” said one prominent Republican strategist, who ask for anonymity to candidly assess Trump’s standing. “They just are tired of him.”

There are growing signs that Trump’s dismal polling is beginning to impact down-ballot Republican contests. Voters increasingly see little difference between national party figures and their local elected officials.

“We’re sort of evolving into a parliamentary system,” said Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeDemocratic women sound alarm on female unemployment House votes to kick Greene off committees over embrace of conspiracy theories LIVE COVERAGE: House debates removing Greene from committees MORE (R-Okla.), a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “We need the president to run competitively.”

While both parties have focused on a handful of Republican-held seats as key to control of the Senate, Democrats in recent days have become much more optimistic about an expanded battlefield. 

Democrats are optimistic about their candidates challenging Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPortman on Trump's dominance of GOP: Republican Party's policies are 'even more popular' Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents MORE (R-S.C.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesIndigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help MORE (R-Mont.) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary MORE (R-Alaska). The leading Democratic super PAC has invested heavily in Kansas, a state that has not sent a Democrat to the Senate for nearly a century.

House Democrats are defending a relatively small number of seats held by candidates who helped the party reclaim the majority in the 2018 midterm elections. Instead, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has expanded their list of Republican targets. 

The DCCC said Tuesday it will launch ads targeting GOP Reps. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungKey Democrat unveils plan to restore limited earmarks Haaland courts moderates during tense Senate confirmation hearing OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package MORE (Alaska), Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyHouse passes sweeping protections for LGBTQ people GOP's Chip Roy vows to fight Equality Act in court Conservatives go after Cheney for Trump CPAC remarks MORE (Texas), Jim HagedornJames Lee HagedornREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Hagedorn holds onto Minnesota House seat Chamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night MORE (Minn.), French HillJames (French) French HillRepublicans rally to keep Cheney in power Oversight committee member questions Treasury Department's approval of 0M loan to shipping firm House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit MORE (Ark.) and Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinSunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in on Trump impeachment trial; Biden administration eyes timeline for mass vaccinations NY Republicans want Justice Department to subpoena Cuomo over nursing homes Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variants spread in US; Redditors shake Wall Street with Gamestop stock MORE (N.Y.) — all of whom represent districts Trump won by more than 10 percentage points in 2016. The House Majority PAC said Tuesday it will advertise heavily in districts held by Reps. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Top GOP lawmaker touts 'more flexible' PPP loans in bipartisan proposal MORE (R-Ohio) and Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerSix ways to visualize a divided America House panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps Republicans rally to keep Cheney in power MORE (R-Mo.).

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“Republicans have ruined this year for many Americans. Can you blame voters for wanting to ruin their election night?” said Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosHouse Republican campaign arm rolls out target list for midterms Lobbying world Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote MORE (D-Ill.), who heads the DCCC. “No matter what the national environment looks like, we’ve set ourselves up for wins across the board.”

Even if Republicans suffer steep losses this November, the party is poised to gain a few seats it lost in the 2018 midterms.

Polls show Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) trailing Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville. House Republicans are optimistic about their chances to reclaim seats held by Reps. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornThe US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (D-Okla.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), and Democratic outside groups are running ads to defend Reps. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindSix ways to visualize a divided America House Republican campaign arm rolls out target list for midterms Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote MORE (D-Wis.), Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (D-Nev.) and Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), signs that the party does not take their elections for granted.

But four weeks before Election Day, there is more cloud than silver lining for the GOP. Trump’s disastrous few weeks have trickled down to the rest of his party.

“If the bottom falls out on the president,” Cole said, “it’s going to be a long night for everybody.”