Trump Campaign Loses Ground in Swing States as Party Splits Over Support

By Steven Klett, Epoch Times
October 11, 2016 Updated: October 12, 2016

Donald Trump’s polling numbers have taken a downturn following weeks of negative press and a split in the Republican Party.

The sharp decline in Trump’s poll numbers was set into motion following the first presidential debate and was exacerbated by the release of a 2005 recording of Trump making lewd comments about women to former “Access Hollywood” anchor Billy Bush.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken in the two days following the release of the recording show Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton 11 percent ahead of Trump (46–35) in a four-way race that includes Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. That lead extends to 14 percent in a two-way poll.

While this poll isn’t the only one to have come out since the release of the tape, it shows the most drastic example of Clinton taking the lead. The week before the tape’s release, Clinton was already ahead of Trump by 5 percent in a Quinnipiac poll conducted between Oct. 5 and 7.

Trump’s polling woes have extended to key swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina, which all show Trump trailing Clinton by between 3 and 5 percent in polls taken before the tape came out. In Pennsylvania, a recent Marist poll shows Clinton ahead by 12 percent and in a YouGov poll, 8 percent.

With swing states trending towards Clinton, the Republican’s path to winning the presidency has narrowed significantly.

In order for Trump to reach the required 270 votes in the Electoral College, he would need to win all the states that Mitt Romney won in 2012—including North Carolina—plus an additional 64 electoral votes.

This means he would need to win Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and find another 11 electoral votes.

Growing Division Within Party

Another problem plaguing the Trump campaign is a split within the Republican Party in the aftermath of the 2005 tape. At the center of the split is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus. 

Ryan said on Oct. 10 that he would no longer defend Trump’s comments or actions and will focus instead entirely on down-ballot Republican congressmen. He also told other Republicans that they could make their own decision on Trump.

“The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities,” Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, said in a statement following an Oct. 10 conference call with Republican lawmakers during which Ryan told them “you all need to do what’s best for you and your district.”

Trump forcefully hit back at Ryan, sending out a series of tweets aimed at the speaker.

“Our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty,” Trump tweeted. 

Some Republicans lawmakers took their disapproval of Trump further than Ryan, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee. McCain withdrew his endorsement, saying he might write in his “old, good friend” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for president. Others, like former nomination contenders Carly Fiorina and Ohio Governor John Kasich, suggested that Trump withdraw from the race. 

Trump responded to this pushback by calling them “disloyal.”

“Disloyal R’s are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win—I will teach them!” he tweeted. 

Contrary to Ryan and other Republicans, RNC Chairman Priebus affirmed his full support for the Republican candidate. 

“First of all, I want to make it very clear that the RNC is in full coordination with the Trump campaign, and we have a great relationship with them. If there’s any takeaway from this call, that’s the takeaway,” Priebus told RNC members during an emergency conference call the day after the second debate, according to Politico.

Other Trump supporters such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Trump’s running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence have said that they cannot defend the scandalous comments, but are sticking by the candidate.