I do think this time is probably different. Not only are voters more fully tuned in to the campaign, but the release of this material on a Friday in early October suggests that there is worse to come. My suspicion is that the next month will be filled with a deluge of similar Trump comments and tax returns, combined with various accusations against him. Maybe he’ll survive – if there’s one thing I’ve learned this cycle, it is to wait for polls – but it seems very unlikely at this point.
This has also created a no-win situation, from a purely electoral perspective, for down-ticket Republicans, who (assuming there are not enough Trump voters for Trump to win) need to form coalitions that bridge those voters and non-Trump voters. If they refuse to support Trump, they risk losing the support of the nominee’s hard-core backers, who are numerous in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada. If they continue to support the Republican standard-bearer, they risk losing the support of swing voters.
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