Trump re-election campaign fires pollsters after mixed messaging
When President Donald Trump’s internal polling suggested he was trailing Democrats in crucial states earlier this year, it did what any campaign would do: tried to bury the bad numbers.
When the findings leaked to the media anyway, an infuriated Trump and his aides first disputed the poll’s existence, then tried to dismiss its importance before finally firing some of the pollsters.
The deception and muddled messaging are part reflexive: Trump and his team have made a habit of discounting embarrassing news as “fake.” But the internal drama on the brink of Trump’s formal re-election launch could also signal trouble ahead if staffers are skittish about being candid with a boss who has made “winning” a central part of his brand.
“All news about the president’s polling is completely false,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said. “The president’s new polling is extraordinary and his numbers have never been better.”
The episode was also a sobering reminder that for all the Trump campaign’s efforts to professionalize its operation, much hasn’t changed. Despite its new fundraising prowess and growing staff working from a gleaming tower overlooking the Potomac River, the re-election campaign is likely to feature the same leaks, backbiting and high turnover as Trump’s ramshackle 2016 effort and early White House tenure.
Indeed, the decision to oust Brett Loyd, the pollster now running White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s former polling firm, was seen by some as less about stamping leaks than a slap at Conway, whose close relationship with the president has inspired lingering jealousy.
Also getting the boot were pollsters Adam Geller and Michael Baselice, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke on condition of anonymity. Pollsters Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin will remain with the campaign.
It remains unclear whether the president was briefed on any aspect of the poll before it became public, but two people familiar with the situation said he had not signed off on it beforehand and learned about its findings and price tag from the media.