WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has severed ties with some of its pollsters after the leak of months-old surveys showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in key states, according to multiple reports.
The moves come ahead of the official launch of Trump’s campaign at a Tuesday rally in the battleground state of Florida, and as an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday showed that a majority of voters are “uncomfortable” with voting for Trump. Assessments of the economy have weakened in other surveys, and the public increasingly doubts the administration’s immigration enforcement efforts.
NBC News first reported that the Trump pollsters were ousted following revelations that internal campaign polling from March showed Trump trailing Biden in traditionally Democratic-leaning states such as Pennsylvania that cemented the president’s victory in 2016, as well as in swing states and some typically Republican strongholds such as Georgia.
Even in the solidly Republican state of Texas, which last voted for a Democrat for president in 1976, Trump led by just 2 percentage points in the March polls, NBC said. In 2016 Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Texas by 9 percentage points.
The campaign’s move, which saw the purge of three of its five pollsters, was aimed at limiting the number of outsiders who could leak unfavorable poll numbers, according to the New York Times.
Biden is the front-runner in the large Democratic primary field, but his strength and Trump’s possible weakness could change greatly in the months ahead. Trump famously surprised pollsters and pundits, most of whom confidently predicted right up until the 2016 election that he would lose.
The Trump campaign and the White House didn’t immediately return requests for comment. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, told the Times in a statement that the leaked figures were “ancient” and didn’t reflect current dynamics, such as the end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The campaign has “seen huge swings in the president’s favor” and the president isn’t trailing in any states the campaign has tested him against particular Democrats, Parscale said.
Trump tweeted on Saturday that, “Despite the Greatest Presidential Harassment of all time by people that are very dishonest and want to destroy our Country, we are doing great in the Polls, even better than in 2016.”