Buffeted by bad polls, rally fiasco, Donald Trump names new campaign head

President Donald Trump has replaced the head of his re-election campaign with his deputy after weeks of bad poll numbers showing him trailing Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, by a widening margin, and continued hammering he has gotten for his handling of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Bill Stepien, the deputy, is the new campaign manager, replacing Brad Parscale, who will stay on as a senior advisor for data and digital operations. Both men are veterans of Trump’s 2016 campaign. And more members of that team have been brought back such as Jason Miller, to head strategy, and other changes are expected.

Trump trails Biden by more than 8 points in the RealClearPolitics average of all polls and by more than 9 points in FiveThirtyEight’s weighted average of polls. In some of the polls released this week, the president is behind the Democrat by double digits — 10 points in CNBC’s, 15 points in Quinnipiac University’s and 11 points in NBC/Wall Street Journal’s.

A polls released Wednesday, just hours before Trump announced the campaign reshuffle, showed 62% of Americans believe the president is hurting efforts to combat the Covid-19 epidemic, and 67% said they don’t trust the information he is providing.

Trump is trailing Biden also in the swing states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. And, in possibly the most worrying sign for him was his shrinking lead over Biden in Texas, a deeply conservative state. Trump’s lead is down to 0.3 points.

“I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump Campaign Manager,” Trump announced in a tweet Wednesday evening. “Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor.”

Trump did not cite reasons for the switch, but did go on to reveal in another tweet what seemed to be bothering him, with his own spin. He said his win in November will be a “lot easier” than in 2016 as “our poll numbers are rising fast (they are not), the economy is getting better (not yet, though there are signs), vaccines and therapeutics will soon be on the way (that’s a moving target)”.

Parscale had headed the campaign from January 2018. But reports that the president had soured on him began appearing in recent weeks. There were some suggestions he had made a lot of money and that he sought to inject himself into campaign ads and had basically got himself into the president’s bad books.

Parscale was widely blamed for the fiasco in Tulsa, Trump first post-Covid-19 rally, which was expected to signal his return to the campaign trail. The president, who likes to cite audience numbers and size, addressed a venue that was less than half full, and an overflow stage outside had to be pulled down because of poor attendance. Parscale had boasted of an expected turnout of a million people.

A leadership change at the campaign just four months to voting may look ominous, but Trump pulled off a far more consequential overhaul in 2016, and further down the road. He had named Steve Bannon campaign CEO chair and Kellyanne Conway the campaign manager mid-August.

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