The Republican Party is likely to move further away from Donald Trump because it is increasingly anxious over its congressional majorities.
Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a veteran of past Republican campaigns, was brought on months ago to impose greater discipline and presidential demeanor on the bombastic billionaire. Occasionally he succeeded. But more often he didn't, and Trump has made clear he didn't care for the effort.
Now, Manafort has been elbowed aside in favor of new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster. Like Trump's first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, Conway had not previously served in a top role in a Republican presidential campaign.
Even more daring, Trump has brought on as chief executive of the campaign Steve Bannon, a top executive at Breitbart News. The provocative news site has been at war with Republican congressional leaders, most recently by promoting a primary challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan won overwhelmingly
Bannon's role signals that Trump will campaign through Election Day with the pugnacious style that won him the Republican nomination but has left him with a serious deficit against Hillary Clinton in the general election. He trails by significant margins, nationally and in the battleground states. His style has alienated non-white voters, millennials and college-educated whites.
Losing confidence in Trump's ability to come back, Republican strategists for House and Senate races predict the party and its donors will increasingly shift resources toward down-ballot races. The Trump campaign, a top Senate Republican adviser said, "is so far off the rails that I don't know anyone who could make a case for investing money in the presidential" contest.
Indeed, Trump reiterated in a Fox interview Wednesday that "I haven't spent 10 cents" of his own money while Clinton and Democrats have invested $100 million in negative ads. That is not a formula for winning the presidency — which is why fellow Republicans plan more and more to keep their distance.