Donald Trump’s campaign has suffered severe damage over the last several weeks.
Four out of ten GOP party insiders are seriously exploring ways to dump Trump as the GOP nominee, but a majority of GOP insiders still believe that would be disastrous because it would flout the will of the people who voted for Trump.
Refusing to be part of any Dump Trump movement, however, is nowhere near the same thing as the type of solid party support that is typical this many weeks after clinching the nomination. As Virginia GOP insiders put it:
“Republicans can’t do anything to hurt Trump now without knee-capping our other GOP candidates up and down the ballot. … It would be like Coca-Cola admitting that Coke Classic is toxic and expecting it not to hurt the sales of Diet Coke. For better or worse, we’re all in this together now. … Let him have it. But Republicans should have nothing to do with him or his campaign. Walk away. Let him lose, in spectacular fashion, on his own.”
Prominent Virginia Republicans, like 10th Congressional District Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, have been highly critical of Trump, describing him as:
“A casino owner who bankrupted casinos … Daddy gave him his money. He played with it … He doesn’t know anything about the economy … I don’t think he believes in anything aside from himself.”
Representative Comstock has returned a $3,000 contribution Trump made to her campaign, but still hasn’t definitively ruled out the possibility that she might endorse him for President.
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli admitted to NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood that unconvinced Virginia conservatives might just stay home in November, and longtime Northern Virginia conservative activist and former GOP member of the House of Delegates, David Ramadan, said he has suspended his party membership because of Trump’s candidacy.
Signs of serious trouble for the Trump campaign in Virginia already were evident back in April when a Virginia poll found that:
[R]oughly 30% of likely Republican voters in Virginia are unsure whether they would vote for GOP front-runner Donald Trump in the general election if he is their party’s nominee. In contrast, 90% of Virginia Democrats polled said they would support Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the general election, even if they are currently Bernie Sanders supporters.
An examination of voter turnout patterns in the March Virginia Republican Presidential primary confirms that Trump’s likely support in voter-rich areas such as Northern Virginia and the Richmond suburbs will be sustantially weaker than Mitt Romney’s was in 2012 when Romney lost Virginia to Obama. For example, John Kasich received a substantial percentage of the vote in the Republican primary in Northern Virginia, including 23 percent each in Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church. Given his recent performance on the national stage, Trump’s appeal to those Kasich voters is likely to be significantly lower today than it was in March.
Mitt Romney himself has stated he will neither support nor vote for Trump because a Trump Presidency would be characterized by “trickle down racism,” “trickle down bigotry,” and “trickle down misogyny.”
The Trump brand is toxic. The Trump brand sure isn’t Coke Classic. It’s New Coke.