Donald Trump gets desperate

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Given that the DOJ now has multiple grand juries targeting Donald Trump, one of which has been active for at least four months, you’d think he’d be focused on that. Or perhaps he should be focused on the New York Attorney General’s probe, in which he’s been held in contempt of court. Or maybe the Fulton County District Attorneys’s probe, where a special grand jury is targeting him. But those are the important things he can’t control, so instead he’s doing what desperate people do: frantically trying to win less important battles.

For an increasingly desperate Trump, his “salvation” (at least in his own mind) comes in the form of making sure his Republican primary candidates win. If he can put enough Republican candidates over the top, then the media will keep writing about how influential he is, and… he’ll somehow end up back in the White House instead of prison? Nothing works that way, but delusional optimism is often the only thing desperate people have left.

Unfortunately for Trump, even his Republican primary endorsements have been going rather poorly. The media is still chasing ratings by pretending Trump’s candidates are doing well. But with as poorly as they’re actually doing, even the media is going to have to admit before too much longer that Trump’s influence over voters is at an end.

Trump’s endorsement of David Perdue in Georgia is a ticking timebomb, given that Perdue is behind by 27 points, and even Mike Pence is now campaigning for the other Republican candidate. Once Perdue loses, the narrative about Trump’s influence will evaporate. But in the meantime Trump is hoping for one last display of faux-influence in Pennsylvania, where his candidate Mehmet Oz still has a chance to win. Just not a good chance.

The latest polling suggests that Oz is just three points ahead of the “establishment” Republican candidate Dave McCormick. Even worse for Oz, he’s just two points ahead of a late surging Republican candidate, Kathy Barnette. If the polls prove accurate and Barnette keeps surging, she could win the primary race.

It would be bad enough for Trump if his high profile Republican candidate loses to the other high profile Republican candidate. But if Trump’s candidate loses to someone like Barnette, who came into this race as virtually a nobody, it would be utterly devastating to Trump’s viability as an endorser.

To that end, Trump is now frantically launching attacks against Barnette, which if anything is only serving to further raise Barnette’s profile. Even CNN is acknowledging that this is a “panic” move on Trump’s part, though CNN is still trying to downplay just how clearly Barnette’s rise is spelling out that Trump’s influence has crashed and burned.

What’s really happening here is that Trump simply can’t move the needle. Oz’s poll numbers aren’t any better now than they were before Trump endorsed him, suggesting Trump has steered zero Republican voters in Oz’s direction. And even poll numbers for also-ran candidates like Sands and Bartos are dropping now that their supporters can see they’re not going to win, those voters aren’t shifting to Trump’s candidate Oz, they’re shifting to the candidate Trump is attacking.

   

Donald Trump increasingly can’t steer Republican voters toward the candidates he’s endorsing, and he can’t steer Republican voters away from the candidates he’s attacking. And if anyone is tempted to write off Trump’s failure in Pennsylvania solely on Oz’s weakness as a candidate, just take a look at Nebraska, where Trump’s candidate lost this week, or Georgia, where Trump’s candidate is down 27 points in the polls to another Republican candidate. Trump just can’t move the needle – and even a complicit media can’t help him move it.

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