NYT: President Trump Bet Big This Election Year. Here’s Why He Lost.

I spoke with Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times about President Trump’s decision to wade into off-year red state gubernatorial contests:

Mr. Trump, of course, is not the first president to be faulted for his party’s losses. But few have so openly invited the risk of being blamed for them.

“Donald Trump just happens to relish this centrality more than most,” said Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist, “and has a tendency to say the quiet part loud, sometimes to his detriment.”

Read the full piece here.

My two cents? The President was going to own these red state losses whether or not he got involved personally. His team wagered that the upside of intervention was worth the risk of any additional fallout. That calculation may not have been borne out, but the upshot is that our politics have already been so nationalized that President Trump’s explicit presence is something of a formality. For better or worse, politics in 2019 is all about the current occupant of the White House. This is the Trump Show after all–elections are just sweeps week.

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CNBC: Polls begin to signal rising impeachment threat to Trump

I spoke with CNBC‘s John Harwood about the dynamics of public opinion on impeachment, and what the polling might mean for Trump as it relates to the GOP.

A CBS News poll found 23% of Republicans backing an impeachment probe. In a USA Today survey, 30% of Republicans called it “an abuse of power” for Trump to ask Ukraine to investigate Biden.

Even if they haven’t broken with their party’s president, those Republicans pose a particular danger to Trump, who once bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York without losing support.

 “The willingness to hear this out is a sign that you’re not a Fifth Avenue Republican,” says GOP strategist Liam Donovan.

Read the full piece here.

For the record, and as I told John for this piece, I am wildly skeptical that you will see many–if any–Republican defections in either chamber. As I have said, there is zero near-term political incentive to remove your party’s President. Combustible primary dynamics aside, there is simply no reason to believe that a vote to remove Trump will earn you more support from the President’s critics than it will lose you among his most ardent fans. At best, ugly numbers could liberate some Senate Rs to vote on the underlying merits, along the lines of their outgoing colleagues. But ultimately there’s a strong argument for allowing the voters themselves to render this judgement, especially heading into an election year, and–for better or worse–I fully expect this to be the approach of even the most furrowed brows in the GOP conference.

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TIME: Trump’s New Math: Inside the Plan to Flip Blue States in 2020

I spoke with Brian Bennett from TIME Magazine about the Trump campaign’s efforts to expand the map in 2020.

Trump’s political strategists say they aren’t carving out a new path to 270 electoral votes and instead want to run up the score. In the 2016 race, the Trump campaign didn’t have the luxury of time or a huge war chest. “Last time we had a better air game than ground game,” Kushner says. “This time, we’ve had a couple of years to prepare. We’ve refined our data and political operation. We’ve invested $50 to $60 million over the last couple of years to make the data significantly better.”

Not everyone is buying it. Trump’s sagging job approval ratings suggest to many political observers that the map-broadening is a reflection of a search for a long shot way back to the White House. Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist, says that the Trump campaign is right to be trying to get more voters to show up and to branch out into new territory. “There are reasons to compete in all these places,” Donovan tells TIME. But, Donovan says, “he’s not going to win any of these places if he’s still at 43 approval in the RCP average,” referring the average of Trump job approval polls published by RealClearPolitics.

Read the full piece here.

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