Republican senators fear ‘bloodbath’ as Joe Biden extends lead
Republican senators are increasingly distancing themselves from the White House amid growing concerns Donald Trump could be facing a “bloodbath” defeat. Joe Biden’s lead over Mr Trump has grown to 9.6 per cent in an average of recent polls, just short of the 10 per cent figure sometimes used to define a “landslide”. Some Republican strategists and donors have begun suggesting a shift in resources to protect vulnerable Senate seats, arguing that keeping the Senate is the best way to put a check on a potential Biden presidency. Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who was runner-up to Mr Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, said he was “worried” and the election was “highly volatile”. If Americans felt “optimistic” about the pandemic and economy on November 3, Mr Trump could still win by a “big margin”, he said. But he added: “I also think, if on Election Day people are angry and they’ve given up hope and they’re depressed, which is what [the Democrat leadership] want them to be, I think it could be a terrible election. “I think we could lose the White House and both houses of Congress, that it could be a bloodbath of Watergate proportions.” The Senate is held by Republicans with a 53-47 majority. Of the 100 seats, 35 are being voted on this election, and 23 of those are held by Republicans. Seats that had been regarded as safely Republican, including in Alaska, Iowa, North Carolina, Kansas and Montana, are now in Democrat sights. Lindsey Graham, a close presidential ally, is now in a tied race in South Carolina. As they returned to their states to campaign some Republican senators, although not Mr Graham, have been notably cool in their comments about the president. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, was starkly critical after attendees at a White House event were diagnosed with coronavirus. Speaking at a re-election event in his state of Kentucky, Mr McConnell said: “I actually haven’t been to the White House since August the 6th because my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine, and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.” Mr McConnell, 78, who survived polio as a child, sent the Senate into recess after two Republican senators who were at the White House event on September 26, contracted the virus. The remarks from Mr McConnell were taken by some as a signal other Republican senators were at liberty to criticise the president over the pandemic.