Updated Aug 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top Democrats fear that protests could help Trump win

Mike Allen
Rand Paul surrounded by a crowd of protesters
Protesters confront Sen. Rand Paul outside the White House early Friday. Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters

Democrats close to Joe Biden increasingly fear the looting and violence in cities could help President Trump, especially among the few undecided or wavering Americans.

Why it matters: This is a huge story that helps explain the state of the race, with some Democrats panicking that Trump could win.

A new poll out of Wisconsin has heightened worry among top Democrats:

  • In a Marquette Law School poll of registered voters in battleground Wisconsin, support for Black Lives Matters protests dropped 13 points from June to August, just ahead of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

"There was an initial surge in support for and sympathy with BLM in June," Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, told me.

  • "The shift to a more negative view in August is strongest among Republicans, but independents and Democrats also became less approving. The decline was across all regions except for the city of Milwaukee."

At a rally last night in Manchester, N.H., the Trump campaign amplified the issue by handing out official signs saying "PEACEFUL PROTESTER" and "THIS IS A PEACEFUL PROTEST."

  • "You know what I say? Protesters, your ass," Trump said. "I don't talk about my ass. They're not protesters. ... Those are anarchists. They're agitators. They're rioters. They're looters."
  • "They don't even know who George Floyd is. If you ask 'em: 'Who's George Floyd?' they couldn't even tell you."

Video of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his wife, Kelley — being chased back to their hotel, shielded by police — has gotten more than 10 million views.

Paul said on "Fox & Friends" that the attackers were yelling: "Say her name — Breonna Taylor," killed by police in a no-knock raid in Kentucky.

  • "I'm actually the author of the [Justice for Breonna Taylor Act], to end no-knock raids," Paul said. "So the irony is lost on these idiots."

Andrew Sullivan writes, in "The Trap The Democrats Walked Right Into": "If law and order are what this election is about, they will lose it."

  • "Biden needs a gesture of real Sister Souljah clarity to put daylight between him and the violent left."

The bottom line ... David Axelrod warned fellow Dems about Trump's effort to shift attention from COVID and unemployment to "law and order":

  • "[T]he timing of unrest in Kenosha has been a gift to him in that project."
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