Perdue (R-GA) May Be McConnell's First Falling Domino

Back in July, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman had a story that Trump knew he was in trouble: “What Do I Do? What Do I Do?”: Trump Desperate, Despondent as Numbers Crater, “Loser” Label Looms. Down at the end was this tidbit:

Nervous Republicans worried about losing the Senate are now debating when to break from Trump. Trump campaign internal polls show Trump’s level of “strong support” dropping from 21 to 17 points since last week, a person briefed on the numbers said. A source close to Iowa Republican Joni Ernst’s campaign said Ernst advisers are upset that a solid seat is now in play. “Joni’s campaign is pissed. They should not be in a competitive race,” the source said. (“This is completely false,” an Ernst campaign spokesperson said in a statement. “Folks are energized about re-electing Joni Ernst, President Trump and the rest of Republican ballot in Iowa this November.”) A Republican strategist close to Mitch McConnell told me that Republicans have Labor Day penciled in as the deadline for Trump to have turned things around. After that, he’s on his own. [emphasis added]

At least two Daily Kos diaries picked up on it: One saying it was likely true, the other saying it was bullshit and a Moscow Mitch headfake. It’s starting to look like “likely true” is correct. From todays’ Atlana Journal-Constitution:

Perdue attempts a softer approach to defeat Ossoff in Georgia Senate race

With U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s re-election chances teetering on a knife’s edge, the Republican is talking more about himself as a “bipartisan problem solver” — and less about his reputation as one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal allies.

Nor is there an intense emphasis on Trump, who is struggling to separate himself from Democrat Joe Biden in recent Georgia polls. Perdue’s broadcast TV spots don’t mention Trump, though he’s featured in mailers and digital ads targeting core GOP voters.

Perdue is clearly trying to thread a tiny needle here:

Being one of Trump’s most loyal allies in the U.S. Senate might have helped him avoid a primary challenger in June. But to win in November, Perdue is trying to cast himself as a consensus builder who will defend capitalism.

And McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund has spent more money assailing Jon Ossoff than any other Democratic candidate for the Senate, so Moscow Mitch is clearly concerned, and it’s a pretty good bet, given how tightly he keeps the reins on Senate Republicans, that he gave Perdue the go-ahead to step away from the Malignant Mangoface.

Democrats are not going to let him get away with it:

Democrats see Perdue’s approach as an attempt to whitewash his record.

“The advent of Trump pushed Perdue to the right,” said Howard Franklin, a veteran Democratic strategist. “He’s said and done a number of things the last four years that will be very difficult to walk away from. And Ossoff isn’t going to let him.”

Perdue was not on the list of Senators most likely to abandon Trump after Labor Day — Ernst and Gardner were thought to be more likely. And this isn’t a rat overboard scenario yet. But the rat is up on deck checking out the horizon. Or if you prefer, the domino is tilting a bit.

The latest polling (Sept. 10) shows Ossoff with a 1-point lead, 48-47.

Here’s a link to Jon Ossoff’s campaign. Do NOT go to the one labelled jonossoff.com — it’s a fake.