James Carville still thinks Trump might pull out of race rather than risk a landslide defeat

Michael Isikoff
·Chief Investigative Correspondent
·3 mins read

Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville doubled down Friday on his prediction that President Trump may yet abandon his run for reelection when confronted with poll numbers showing that he is in danger of getting swamped in an electoral “tsunami” that might rival Herbert Hoover’s 1932 landslide defeat to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In an interview on the Yahoo News podcast Skullduggery, Carville said Trump’s political standing appears to be in virtual free fall, as Republicans are increasingly panicked that he will cost them control of the Senate.

“This is not a party that is falling apart. This is a party that has already fallen apart,” said Carville about the state of the GOP. “And Trump is going to have to come to grips with [deciding] ‘am I better off saying I’m not running and coming back in 2024 ... or getting the living crap beat out of me.’ ”

James Carville and President Trump. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Jason Kempin/Getty Images, AP[2])
James Carville and President Trump. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Jason Kempin/Getty Images, AP[2])

Carville first started raising the possibility that Trump might leave the 2020 race reelection in commentary and TV appearances earlier this month.

But he expanded on his predicted (and hoped for) scenario in the Skullduggery interview.

“He’s going to conclude with Jared [Kushner] that his brand is worth more resigning than it is getting destroyed — and when I say destroyed I mean 1932 destroyed,” Carville said, referring to the 1932 election during the depths of the Great Depression when Roosevelt crushed President Hoover, capturing 472 electoral votes to Hoover’s 59.

As it now stands, Trump is scheduled to accept the Republican nomination at the (now largely virtual) Republican National Convention, which is one month away.

To be sure, Carville, who was one of the top political strategists for Bill Clinton, is an intensely partisan Democrat who relishes trying to demoralize his adversaries with unabashed political spin. He is also consulting with an independent-expenditure Democratic group, American Bridge, that he says is planning to spend $90 million this fall aimed at cutting Trump’s margin in counties he carried in 2016 in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

His prediction came on a day that new poll numbers showed Trump’s standing in key swing states falling precipitously. A Fox News poll released Friday showed that Trump is behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 11 points in Pennsylvania and nine points in Michigan — both states Trump carried in his narrow victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday had Trump down 13 points in Florida — a state the president cannot afford to lose.

Carville’s comments also came the day after Trump was forced to scrap his plans to hold next month’s Republican convention in Jacksonville, Florida, in light of the soaring rise in the number of coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related deaths in the state. Although Trump said he was forced to make that difficult decision in order to “protect” the American people, Carville noted that Trump’s retreat on the convention will only hurt him with his hard-core base — a group that has tended to dismiss the dangers from the virus and stuck with the president because they view him as defiant and unbowed.

“The number to look for [in the polls] is ‘strong leader,’ ” Carville said. “That’s always been what’s propped him up. A couple of Democratic pollsters are saying, ‘We’re starting to see a decline in the strong leader number.’ ’’

Trump’s decision to back down on holding the Jacksonville convention will only chip away at those numbers even more.

“That is going to hurt him,” Carville concluded.

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