Battleground Bulletin: Trump can’t get his defense off the field — but the game is far from over.

July 05, 2020

Trump can’t get his defense off the field — but the game is far from over.

There’s no dancing around it: Things are not going well for Donald Trump.

As the country continues to confront crises on multiple fronts, Americans have soured on the president’s failed leadership. The numbers don’t lie: with plummeting approval ratings and a skyrocketing number of Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track, Trump’s reelection prospects have never looked more bleak.

So it should come as no surprise that, with just four months to go until Election Day, the Trump campaign is stuck on its heels trying to desperately defend an ever-shrinking path to 270 electoral votes. While devoting few resources to states like New Mexico and Minnesota, which the campaign pledged to contest early on, big spending and bad poll numbers continue in states that went solidly for Trump in 2016, along with a never-ending slog of panicked hand-wringing and staff turmoil.

At a time when a functional reelection effort would be pushing to solidify their support and planning for a big fall push, the Trump campaign finds itself perpetually dealing with self-inflicted wounds and living on its metaphorical back foot — not at all a recipe for success.

Because as any football fan knows, it’s hard to win if you can’t get your defense off the field.

Trump’s spending decisions depict a campaign on defense.

The Trump campaign’s recent allocation of resources reveals a campaign that knows it’s losing.

Just in the past few months, in addition to expected expenditures on airtime in closely contested battleground states like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the Trump campaign has also spent heavily to run TV ads in Arizona, North Carolina, Iowa and Ohio — four states that most observers thought would be safely in the president’s column as recently as earlier this year. And Trump’s triage ad buys have expanded even further in recent weeks, with the campaign now running spots in historically ruby red Georgia as well.

Nor does it appear the Trump campaign has much confidence that their recent rash of fire-drill spending will succeed in shifting the race back onto their terms. As the campaign began to place fall TV reservations in the past week, ad analytics firms tracked huge bookings in former Republican strongholds, including Arizona, North Carolina and more than $18 million in Ohio. Needless to say, blowing that much money in a desperate attempt to claw back a state that the president won by 8 points just four years ago probably wasn’t in the original budget.

These are not the moves of a campaign on the attack. They are the hallmarks of a candidate flailing to keep his head above water.

Polls show Trump trailing in virtually every battleground state — and then some.

Despite the campaign’s early pronouncements about its grand plans to expand the president’s map in 2020, Trump’s path to reelection seems to be shrinking by the day. His defensive posture with ad spending is easily explained by his standing in public opinion polls.

As the public rejects his incompetent mishandling of the coronavirus and his ugly response to the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality, any hope that Trump may have harbored about flipping states that Hillary Clinton won by narrow margins four years ago into his column this time around looks far-fetched. The most recent polling shows Trump facing a large deficit in states like NevadaNew Hampshire and Minnesota — all states Clinton won by less than two and a half points.

With the offensive playbook out the window, the defense doesn’t look much better. In the four key swing states that Trump rode to the presidency after winning each by about a point or less in 2016 — FloridaMichiganPennsylvania and Wisconsin — current polling averages reflect Trump trailing Joe Biden by between 6 and 10 points. While it’s important to note that these advantages could reflect a high water mark for Biden and the race is likely to tighten as November draws nearer, this is an unquestionably bad spot for Trump to be in with only 121 days remaining. Needless to say, there is no path to victory for the president that does not include several of those crucial battlegrounds.

Trump’s problems don’t end there. The erosion in Trump’s support has continued beyond his razor-thin victories and is now imperiling a broad cross-section of states where he won fairly comfortably. FiveThirtyEight shows Biden sitting on a 3-point lead in Arizona and a 3-point advantage in North Carolina, on average, after Clinton lost both states by roughly 4 points in 2016. And Trump also continues to underperform in traditionally red states that he was initially expected to carry again with little trouble in 2020, such as GeorgiaOhioIowa and Texas, where Trump now finds himself locked in a tight race.

The Trump campaign can try to spin every new disappointing poll result (and boy, do they try), but the data couldn’t be clearer: at this juncture, Joe Biden has a rapidly expanding number of paths to the presidency, while Trump’s turf is disappearing beneath his feet.

Trump may be trailing, but there’s still a long way to go and a lot of work left to do.

To be clear, none of this is to say that this election is anywhere close to over — far from it. While Trump may be down (and he’s certainly not doing himself any favors), there is still ample time remaining for his campaign to turn things around.

After all, the political environment looked much different four months ago than it does today — and it could look much different still four months from now on Election Day. And with Trump and his Republican allies committed to doing everything in their power to suppress the vote and gain any possible advantage, no matter the cost to our democracy, Democrats must remain completely focused and constantly vigilant.

There’s simply way too much time left for Democrats to even think about taking our foot off the gas for even a moment. That’s why Priorities USA and our partners will continue to press our advantage and do everything we can every day between now and November to ensure that, when all the votes are counted, Donald Trump is a one-term president.

Priorities recently announced that we have expanded our ad buy in Arizona significantly, with over $1 million invested in July alone.

Donald Trump’s advantage in traditionally red Arizona is quickly evaporating and Priorities is wasting no time capitalizing on the President’s weakness. Priorities is making significant investments in reaching Arizona’s Latino community, which has been disproportionately impacted by Donald Trump’s failure to contain the coronavirus crisis.

Priorities has continued to spend almost $2 million per week on digital and TV advertising in key battleground states. With over $173 million already raised for this cycle, Priorities is committed to spending over $200 million to defeat Donald Trump and ensure that Joe Biden is elected in November.


While other countries are slowing the spread of coronavirus and responsibly reopening their economies, Donald Trump’s government has lost control months after the virus appeared. It didn’t have to be this way. Donald Trump’s ignorance, incompetence, and recklessness is needlessly harming millions of Americans.

While cases surge again, Donald Trump is holding campaign rallies and bragging about cutting testing, all to feed his own ego at the expense of the health of the American people. “Transmit” is running on TV in battleground states and holds Trump accountable for failing to put the American people before his personal political interests.

Priorities USA Action’s latest digital ad, “Go Away,” emphasizes Donald Trump’s repeated, deliberate lies to the American people and holds Trump accountable for spreading misinformation in a time of crisis.“Go Away” is running on digital platforms in key battleground states.


Trump’s failures on coronavirus have disproportionately hurt Latinos. Priorities’ latest Spanish language ad, “Enough,” reaches Latino communities in Arizona and Florida. Instead of uniting the country during a time of crisis, Donald Trump has chosen to create more division and chaos.

“Enough” is airing in Spanish and English in Florida and Arizona as part of Priorities’ expanded investment in the Grand Canyon State.