President Donald Trump was unsure he would win re-election until recently, he told his campaign staff on a conference call Monday.
“We’re going to win,” he said in a call the campaign invited reporters to join. “I wouldn’t have told you that maybe two or three weeks ago.”
The president’s declaration follows a collapse in his support in public opinion polls since his first debate with Joe Biden and his hospitalization for Covid-19. A six-point average lead for Biden at the end of September has grown to about 9 points as of Monday, according to RealClearPolitics.
The former vice president also leads in polls of many battleground states, albeit by narrower margins.
Trump singled out a Michigan poll last week by a Republican firm, Trafalgar, that showed him ahead in the state — an outlier among Michigan polls — and asked his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, “Are we still up, Bill, or what?”
Stepien replied that Trump is ahead of where Democrats want him to be.
“As of today this is the single best I have ever been in any campaign,” Trump said. “The first one I was losing until the last day.”
“We are running an aggressive campaign,” Stepien said. “What matters most in a campaign is the candidate. Candidates matter, something we say a lot around here in the office, and simply put we have the better one and it’s not even close.”
Stepien said that the Biden campaign has also in recent weeks suggested that the race may be closer than public polls show.
“I don’t often agree with the Biden campaign, but I do agree with the Biden campaign when they say that this is a close race, because it absolutely is. When we look at the numbers we very, very much like the trajectory of this race,” Stepien said.
“Our internal polling shows that the team has a clear pathway to victory with 15 days to election day,” Brock McCleary, a pollster, said on the call.
In states including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, Trump’s competitive, winning, or gaining momentum, McCleary said. Trump leads particularly among “high enthusiasm voters” in some of those states, he said, adding that the group is a leading indicator at this stage of the race.
McCleary said Trump is gaining ground among senior citizens in the battleground states. In Arizona, “we’ve seen a 19% gain among seniors in the Phoenix media market since our last poll earlier this month,” McCleary said.
McCleary said that Trump is also gaining among Catholic voters in Georgia, Hispanics in Florida and Black men in North Carolina.
“North Carolina voters tell us that their neighbors are voting for President Trump by greater than 20% margin,” McCleary said.
He said that the campaign’s efforts to shore up support among seniors in Pennsylvania is also improving and that they’ve seen progress among union households, regular church attendees and gun-rights voters.
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