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Top GOP senator: Polls are 'a message' to Trump to change strategy

Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda NRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers MORE (S.D.) says polling showing President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE falling far behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Joe Biden might bring 'unity' – to the Middle East Biden shouldn't let defeating cancer take a backseat to COVID MORE, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is a wake-up call for Trump to change his tone and focus on substance and policy.

“I think right now obviously Trump has a problem with the middle of the electorate, with independents, and they’re the people who are going to decide a national election,” Thune said.

“I think he can win those back but it will probably require not only a message that deals with substance and policy but I think a message that conveys a perhaps different tone,” he added.

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Thune made his comments Wednesday morning when asked about a newly released New York Times-Siena College poll of 1,337 registered voters nationwide showing Biden leading Trump by 14 points in a hypothetical matchup, 50 percent to 36 percent.

Especially alarming for Senate Republicans, Biden is leading Trump by 22 points among female voters and by 28 points among white college-educated voters — two blocs of the electorate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Kentucky Republican committee rejects resolution urging McConnell to condemn Trump impeachment Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack MORE (R-Ky.) identified last year as critical to winning swing suburban areas that broke decisively against Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.

Asked if the polling showing Trump well behind Biden is a wake-up call, Thune said it’s a “message” the White House needs to change its messaging strategy.

“These polls are a snapshot in time and the electorate as we know can be very fluid but I do think it’s a message that there needs to be certainly a change in probably strategy as far as the White House’s messaging is concerned,” he said.

“In the end it’s going to be a binary choice, it’s going to be Biden versus Trump. Right now Biden is getting the benefit of not being covered at all because he’s not out there at all,” he added.  

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“And so really right now it’s Trump versus Trump. I don’t think that’s the choice that probably the White House wants the American people making. I think they want it to be a choice between Biden and Trump and that means they’re going to have to get more engaged,” he said.

Thune predicted that Trump will have a chance to draw a contrast with Biden as the fall campaign heats up, the two candidates debate and Biden gets more media coverage.

But the GOP senator acknowledged: “At the moment, at least, we’re in period where his numbers, particularly among independent voters, are soft.”

Other recent polls show Biden with a large lead over Trump.

A Fox News poll conducted from June 13 to June 16 of a national sample of 1,343 registered voters showed Biden leading Trump by 12 points, 50 percent to 38 percent.

It showed a 4-point jump in Biden’s advantage compared to a survey conducted mid-May.