WASHINGTON — As US President Donald Trump’s poll numbers drop amid the surging coronavirus pandemic, Republican mega-donors are increasingly directing their funds toward helping the party keep its Senate majority, according to a New York Times report Tuesday.
That includes the Jewish billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, who donated $25 million to a Super PAC aimed at helping Senate Republicans in the November election. The contribution marks the couple’s largest yet donation of the 2020 campaign season.
In February, Adelson pumped $5,600 into Trump’s campaign and another $580,600 to a PAC supporting the president’s reelection, according to the Federal Election Commission’s campaign finance reports.
The New York Times report said that private discussions were ongoing between a number of major GOP donors to shift resources toward the Senate rather than Trump’s reelection.
It’s not clear whether Adelson has been part of those talks.
Republicans cited several reasons why they were considering the strategy, from a “lack of confidence” that Trump will beat former vice president Joe Biden and concern that the president is hurting down-ballot candidates, to an attempt to prevent Democrats from potentially controlling both the legislative and executive branch.
What’s more, sources told The Times that the donors don’t believe money will be the deciding factor in whether Trump wins or loses.
“As Republicans get more and more in tune, it’s hold the Senate at all costs,” Dan Eberhart, an energy executive and GOP donor, told the paper. “The House is gone. And the White House is looking increasingly like an uphill battle. This is not a good picture for us.”
Eberhart gave $100,000 to Trump in June but said he was now trying to bolster Republican Senate candidates.
Another big GOP donor cited in the report was Frank VanderSloot, an Idaho-based entrepreneur. He said he was dismayed by Trump’s tweets and thought the only way to stop the Democratic agenda was to keep the Senate.
“Somebody’s got to protect the country from foolishness,” he said. “The only hope is the Senate.”
The news of the change in Republican giving comes as Trump’s polling continues to drop.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday shows Trump 15 points behind Biden among registered voters, 55 percent to 40 percent.
The same poll, conducted by Langer Research Associates, found Trump’s overall job approval rating at 39 percent — down 9 points in the course of the pandemic, with disapproval up 11.
The survey was published as COVID-19 cases are surging nationally, and states that had re-opened in the spring, like Florida and Texas, are now backtracking as hospitalization rates increase dramatically.
In response, Trump said Monday that he would reconvene regular briefings of the White House coronavirus task force and, for the first time publicly, encouraged people to wear masks.