Report: Trump's Campaign Shakeup Could Shift GOP Focus to Other Races

When Donald Trump won the Republican primary, some GOP leaders were famously hesitant to support him. Large non-profit groups announced that they would focus on down-ballot races rather than the presidential contest. Trump has had a bad few weeks, propelling a campaign shakeup announced Wednesday. According to some, however, that rearrangement is likely to push the Republican Party even further away from the nominee.

A "top GOP strategist tells me Trump campaign shakeup will accelerate party move to shift resources toward House/Senate races, away from Trump," CNBC reporter John Harwood announced on Twitter. In another tweet, Harwood further quoted a Senate Republican strategist who called Trump "so far off rails I don't know anyone who could make a case for investing $ in the Presidential."

The Trump campaign elevated two outsiders to key leadership positions. Executive chairman of Breitbart News Stephen K. Bannon will become the campaign's chief executive and pollster Kellyanne Conway will serve as the campaign manager.

The shakeup signals Donald Trump's unhappiness with the management of campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who served as acting campaign manager. The new leadership "effectively ended" Manafort's push to "moderate Trump's presentation and pitch for the general election," according to the Washington Post's Robert Costa, Jose DelReal, and Jenna Johnson. The Post reporters argued that this "sent a signal, perhaps more clear than ever, that the real-estate mogul intends to finish this race on his own terms, with friends who share his instincts at his side."

Trump's attempt to get back to the "let Trump be Trump" style of the primary campaign strikes many as reckless, and might presage yet more of the kind of off-the-cuff moves and remarks that have tanked his poll numbers in recent weeks.

This week, the Post's Chris Cillizza warned that the GOP nominee's already slim chance of winning in November has narrowed in the past few weeks. According to his model, Clinton already has 273 electoral votes in "safe" or "lean Democratic" states, meaning she wins the White House even if she loses all six of the states currently marked as "toss-ups."

If current trends continue (always a dubious suggestion), Trump will lose the presidency, and there's little the Republican Party apparatus can do to fix that. But the party might choose to emphasize U.S. House and Senate races, to try to mitigate the damage of a potential Clinton presidency. Some non-profit organizations have already embraced this strategy.

Is is possible to focus on "down-ballot" races without helping Trump?