It would be unprecedented for an incumbent party to win an election in the kind of economic conditions the country will be faced with this November (which will almost certainly be worse than 2008.) And there isn’t actually any reason to believe that Donald Trump has the secret sauce to surmount them; indeed, quite the opposite. The additional good news is that Senate elections have essentially become referenda on the president:
The surveys also showed Republican senators in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine trailing or locked in a dead heat with potential Democratic rivals — in part because their fate is linked to Mr. Trump’s job performance. If incumbents in those states lose, and Republicans pick up only the Senate seat in Alabama, Democrats would take control of the chamber should Mr. Biden win the presidency.
“He’s got to run very close for us to keep the Senate,” Charles R. Black Jr., a veteran Republican consultant, said of Mr. Trump. “I’ve always thought we were favored to, but I can’t say that now with all these cards up in the air.”
Republicans were taken aback this past week by the results of a 17-state survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee. It found the president struggling in the Electoral College battlegrounds and likely to lose without signs of an economic rebound this fall, according to a party strategist outside the R.N.C. who is familiar with the poll’s results.
The Trump campaign’s own surveys have also shown an erosion of support, according to four people familiar with the data, as the coronavirus remains the No. 1 issue worrying voters.
But if Republicans are comforted by the uncertainties that remain, they are alarmed by one element of this election that is already abundantly clear: The small-dollar fund-raising energy Democrats enjoyed in the midterms has not abated.
Most of the incumbent House Democrats facing competitive races enjoy a vast financial advantage over Republican challengers, who are struggling to garner attention as the virus overwhelms news coverage.
Still, few officials in either party believed the House was in play this year. There was also similar skepticism about the Senate. Then the virus struck and fund-raising reports covering the first three months of this year were released in mid-April.
Republican senators facing difficult races were not only all outraised by Democrats, they were also overwhelmed.
One of the stranger arguments you see online a lot is the idea that you can’t just run against an incumbent, you have to be enthusiastic about your candidate. I dunno, if you aren’t enthusiastic about getting Donald Trump out of office that says a lot more about you than the typical voter. I’m not saying to be complacent, or that Trump losing is certain. But the structural conditions Republicans are facing in the fall are brutal and they won’t have the advantage of facing a candidate the media has been at total war with for more than a year this time.