Election 2020

Republican Operatives Are Terrified ... Their Candidate Might Actually Win

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

As Hillary Clinton’s campaign continues to struggle after her public health fiasco on Sunday and the latest DNC hack on Tuesday, GOP operatives are beginning to accept the unthinkable: that their candidate might actually win in November. As BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins put it, the prevailing wisdom is that the Democrat will win, and “a large number of [Republican] consultants, fundraisers, and operatives privately preferred it that way.”

“I’ve heard a lot of conservatives voicing frustration, like, ‘How f***ing hard is this, Hillary?” conservative ad-maker and #NeverTrump columnist Ben Howe told BuzzFeed. “That’s the only reason I’m panicked these days … I’m losing faith in Hillary’s ability to win this easy-a** election.”

Howe is far from the only Republican echoing these concerns. “It would be terrible for America, and for the world,” one Republican strategist told BuzzFeed on condition of anonymity. (Many Republican strategists feared to give their names lest they risk losing their jobs). “I can’t think of one good thing that would come of it,” he said.

“It’s terrifying,” one Republican consultant said of a Trump victory. “He’s not qualified … and it’s a massive problem. I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but at least I feel like some of those jobs that are required for president, she could do them.”

A third operative had become so distraught that he told BuzzFeed, “I’m curled up in the fetal position watching The West Wing and drinking a basketful of deplorable liquor.”

Next Page: Trump’s increasing chances, and how donors react.

While Trump still lags Clinton in the RealClearPolitics polling average, he has narrowed the gap substantially, and recent polls give him a lead in Ohio and an even race with Clinton in Florida.

Clinton still holds an edge in the Electoral College, however. While Trump has clear leads in just as many states as Clinton (20), his states add up to fewer electoral votes. Nevertheless, if his gains continue, the race may indeed tighten.

“There are a lot of Republicans on the ‘Never Trump’ side that are starting to feel very nervous,” Rick Wilson, a Florida Republican now consulting for Evan McMullin’s independent campaign, told BuzzFeed. Apparently he too is hoping for a Clinton victory, but suspects her team’s penchant for secrecy will sink the former secretary of State. “No matter how minor the next thing is there’s a possibility [the Clinton campaign] is gonna screw it up by lying about something. They can’t help themselves. It’s genetic.”

High-dollar donors are hesitant to bankroll Trump, one conservative fundraiser said. “A lot of these guys are really pissed … they thought they’d gotten a pass — but now that Clinton is going off the rails, they’re like, ‘Damn it, now am I gonna have to give this guy money?'” The fundraiser explained that donors will hedge their bets, funding Trump’s campaign if the race is close, but they generally prefer a Democrat victory in November.

One consultant in a swing state said he would actually vote for Clinton if the race was close. “I’ll regret doing it. It’ll be the first time on a presidential level that I’ll be voting for a Democrat,” he told BuzzFeed. “But I feel like it’s my obligation as an American to do it.”