Screenshot from CNN

No president in our lifetime has enjoyed a more mesmerizing, seemingly unbendable hold on his political base than Donald Trump. He shifts their views on big topics like the FBI or Vladimir Putin and retains their support regardless of what he says or does.

Why it matters: This connection is turning fast into a liability for Trump and the entire GOP because the president and his mostly white, mostly male base are on the opposite side of most Americans on the epic topics of our day — wearing masks, combating the coronavirus, and condemning racial inequality and police brutality.

  • They are now basically egging each other on. 

President Trump this morning retweeted (then deleted) a video of a man in a golf cart with a "TRUMP 2020" sign who yelled "white power!" at Trump critics.

  • Trump added the note: "Thank you to the great people of The Villages," a retirement community in Florida. "The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall."
  • White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told reporters: "President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters."
  • The White House did not respond when asked whether Trump condemned the supporter’s comment.

When the tweet was still up, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only Black Republican senator, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union":

  • "[Y]ou can't play it because it was so profanity laced. The entire thing was offensive. ... I think it's indefensible."

The context: Advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically, Jonathan Swan reported.

The big picture: Top Republicans have told us for five years that Trump’s base will ultimately cost the party power.

  • The nation is growing too diverse and too progressive.
  • These Republicans warned that tough-guy, noninclusive action and talk would backfire — first with minorities, then with educated white people.

The polls suggest strongly this is unfolding in real time.

  • In addition to the N.Y. Times polls above, which showed Joe Biden with strong leads in the six top battlegrounds (subscription), the Fox News poll this week showed Biden up 9 points in Florida, and tossups in Georgia and Texas — Republican strongholds — and North Carolina.

Between the lines: N.Y. Times columnist Ross Douthat writes (subscription): "[W]hat was likely to be a slow-motion leftward shift, as the less-married, less-religious, more ethnically diverse younger generation gained more power, is being accelerated nationally by the catastrophes of the Trump administration, which is putting states in play for Democrats five or 10 years early."

The response: Tim Murtaugh, Trump campaign communications director, told me:

  • "This election, like all elections, will be a choice. In this case, a choice of President Trump’s record of building the best economy anyone has ever seen with the experience to do it again, versus Joe Biden’s record. ... With four months to go before the election, Americans will understand these differences. ... They won’t want to take a chance on Joe Biden."

Go deeper

Biden on presidential mask mandate: "Our legal team thinks I can do that"

Biden waves as he leaves a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware Wednesday he believes he would have the legal authority as president to issue a nationwide mandate to wear face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus if needed.

Details: "Our legal team thinks I can do that, based upon the degree to which there's a crisis in those states, and how bad things are for the country," Biden said.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.