“A Bruising Intraparty Battle”: Days Away from Election, Republicans Trailing in the Polls and as Divided As Ever

October 30, 2020

Republican woes continue with rough week for both candidates days out from November 3rd as each is running out of time to save their flailing campaigns

ATLANTA — Four days out from the November election, both unelected “political mega-donor” Senator Kelly Loeffler and self-proclaimed top Trump ally Congressman Doug Collins are still locked in a nasty intraparty fight that’s “being fueled by great bitterness on both sides” — a rough end to a week filled with plenty of bad news for Georgia Republicans.

This week brought new polling showing a nearly double-digit lead for a Democrat against both Republican candidates in head-to-head match-ups. And their “bruising intraparty battle” has taken a toll on each Republican’s image as well, with multiple polls this week also showing underwater favorability ratings for Loeffler and Collins — with Loeffler’s favorability gap as high as 27 points according to one poll.

Both Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have responded to tightening polling and fraught conditions between Loeffler and Collins by shifting the race toward Democrats this week following other political ratings experts like Cook Political Report’s Jessica Taylor, who also recently noted that Loeffler and Collins’ “scorched-earth shift to the far right could well doom either candidate” in the race.

But even aside from their polling and rating change woes, both Loeffler and Collins have seen their campaigns struggle with self-inflicted gaffes and mistakes leading into the final week. After Collins was caught “violating Defense policy” in his ads at the end of last week, this week Loeffler drew national ridicule for her unbelievable statement that she’s “not familiar” with President Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape — “one of the biggest stories in politics” that “even people living under rocks” were aware of.

Now, down in the polls and facing “an all-out sprint to the right,” Georgia Republicans are set to head into Election Day exactly how they kicked off the special election nearly a year ago: fighting with each other and ignoring Georgia voters.

Read Republicans’ rough coverage days out from the election:

AJC: Loeffler, Collins battle for GOP votes as time runs out

  • Georgia may be a bipartisan battleground in 2020, but the special U.S. Senate election on the ballot Tuesday has become an all-out sprint to the right for the two leading Republicans in the race, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins.
  • But as Loeffler and Collins fight bitterly for GOP votes now, they’re pushing each other further and further away from the middle ground that either will need to win in the end.
  • The result has been an intraparty clash, with caustic attacks and dueling claims over who is the most conservative and most “pro-Trump,” even as 50% of Georgians say they disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing in office.

11Alive: Sen. Loeffler: ‘Not familiar’ with Access Hollywood tape

  • Earlier this month during a debate, Loeffler was asked if President Trump had ever said or done anything she’d disagreed with. Her answer was emphatically “no.”
  • Loeffler told CNN on Wednesday that there are “no” issues in which she disagrees with the President. 
  • Loeffler told reporters Wednesday that she doesn’t know anything about an Access Hollywood tape made in 2005 in which Trump described sexually assaulting women. This came up again after Loeffler said she doesn’t disagree with anything Trump has said or done.
  • “Look, I agree with the approach President Trump has taken since day one to put America first. What I am focused on is working for Georgians in Washington and being their voice. And being a conservative champion for Georgians,” Loeffler said.
  • A reporter noted that her answer didn’t address whether she had any issues with Trump’s comments, Loeffler said “I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with that.”
  • Reminded that it was the Access Hollywood tape, Loeffler dodged again and said that she would always stand by President Trump.

AJC: In Georgia, a Senate GOP firewall is under attack by resurgent Democrats

  • In a fight to keep control of the U.S. Senate, national Republicans viewed Georgia’s twin contests as part of a last-ditch firewall. With a week until Election Day, resurgent Democrats are chipping away at that foundation.
  • The two Democrats are leveraging President Donald Trump’s struggling poll numbers, and Warnock is taking advantage of the bitter internal rift between Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, her most formidable Republican opponent in the 21-candidate race.
  • Republicans have divided into warring camps between Loeffler and Collins at the urging of Trump. He’s declined to pick a favorite and has welcomed the infighting as a way to boost overall turnout.
  • Warnock has largely escaped intense criticism from the two Republicans as they focus on battering each other over issues catering to an intensely conservative crowd.
  • The two top Republicans in the special election, meanwhile, remain at war with one another. At stops across South Georgia, Collins mocked Loeffler for pumping an additional $3 million of her own cash into the contest.
  • Loeffler swiped back in a social media post that illustrated the tension in the race. She said she can’t defend herself in person because she’s in Washington to vote on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett — whom she called a “real conservative.”

Newsweek: Republican Violating Defense Policy with Military Uniform in Campaign Ads Infuriates Veterans

  • Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican who is locked in a contentious intraparty battle for the Senate, has violated Department of Defense policy at least two dozen times in recent days by improperly using photos of himself wearing his military uniform in campaign ads.
  • The move has enraged veterans and advocacy groups, who want Collins—a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves—formally reprimanded for the inappropriate ads consistently posted on social media platforms.
  • “It’s a flagrant violation of the military criminal code, and he should be visibly and aggressively punished,” MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein told Newsweek. “It’s deplorable, it’s despicable, it is hideous and wretched.”
  • DoD Directive 1344.10, the official guidance for uniforms and political campaigning, states that uniform images may only be used if they are not the primary photo in an ad and must include a “prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer.”
  • In the past five days, Collins has issued 24 separate campaign tweets and Facebook posts that violate the DoD policy.


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