The House Speaker, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has warned top GOP donors that the scandals currently engulfing the campaign for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump could cost the party their majority in Congress.
On Oct. 12, Ryan held a conference call with top donors to discuss the state of the 2016 presidential race and how it can impact down-ballot Republicans, a source who listened to the call told Politico.
“Speaker Ryan holds routine calls with top supporters, top grassroots organizers, and many others,” said Ryan spokesman Zack Roday. “This is an opportunity to discuss our efforts to win in November.”
During the conference call, Ryan reportedly was less enthusiastic about the prospect of winning the November election; he was instead concerned that the GOP could be facing an electoral wipeout.
The House Speaker warned that Trump is polling worse than Republican Rep. John McCain of Arizona did in 2008, when he was defeated by President Barack Obama in a relative landslide. Ryan noted that in that election, Republicans lost over 20 seats in the House.
Aggregating the last eight national polls released since Oct. 6, Real Clear Politics found that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is leading Trump by 6.2 percentage points in a two-way race.
That gap can continue to grow, given that several of these polls were conducted before a 2005 audiotape of Trump bragging about kissing and groping women without consent surfaced.
By this point in the 2008 presidential race, with 26 days until election day, Obama was leading McCain by 5.1 percentage points.
On Oct. 10, Ryan ignited controversy after telling fellow GOP lawmakers that he would no longer be defending Trump on the campaign trail after his comments about women were made public.
On Oct. 12, Trump blasted the House Speaker during a Florida rally, accusing him of disloyalty. The business mogul even implied that Ryan could be colluding with the Clinton campaign.
“There is a whole deal going on there,” Trump said. “There is a whole deal going on and we’re going to figure it out.”
During his conference call with donors, Ryan said that he was not interested in fighting Trump but was primarily concerned with preserving the GOP majority in the House. The House Speaker added that he is still hoping to see Trump do well on election day, noting that the nominee’s success is tied to the down-ballot Republican lawmakers’ fates.
Republicans currently control both chambers of Congress. Democratic lawmakers would have to net 30 seats in the House and four or five seats in the Senate to regain control.
FiveThirtyEight, the polling website spearheaded by statistician Nate Silver, currently projects that Democrats have a 57.3 percent chance of reclaiming the Senate while Republicans only have a 42.7 percent chance of preserving their majority.