Trump Pins Hopes on Rallies That Could Be Sealing His Defeat

Trump Pins Hopes on Rallies That Could Be Sealing His Defeat

President Donald Trump’s push for a second poll-defying victory is relying on a hallmark of his first — raucous campaign rallies that Trump sees as a crucial sign of voter enthusiasm but that pollsters say may only be cementing his defeat.

Trump held three rallies Monday, all in Pennsylvania, with three more scheduled Tuesday and as many as five or six a day expected by the weekend. The rallies befit the showman with roots in reality television: blaring music, slick production, video montages, warm-up speeches, Air Force One as a backdrop and the president himself as the headline attraction. Attendees erupt in screams and cheers at his arrival, and local Republicans say it’s unlike any political event they’ve seen.

But the rallies’ impact is far from clear. Republicans say they harvest data from attendees and fire up their base, while Democrats say they get a spike in donations and volunteers, too, and wonder if Trump is merely preaching to the choir.

Holding rallies in defiance of coronavirus health recommendations has fueled voters’ disapproval of his handling of the pandemic — feeding Biden’s key argument that Trump has mishandled the first major crisis of his presidency. And pollsters say there’s little evidence of a rally boost.