When Down-Ballot Republicans Should Dump Trump

From FiveThirtyEight:

In this week’s politics chat, we wonder whether more Republicans will start to un-endorse Donald Trump. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

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micah (Micah Cohen, politics editor): Welcome, everyone! Today’s topic: With Donald Trump’s recent slide in the polls, should down-ballot Republicans — candidates for the U.S. Senate, House, etc. — start to think about abandoning Trump? If so, when? (For the record: We decided on this topic yesterday, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine abandoned Trump in an op-ed today. #prescience)

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): What you all seem to neglect is that this is ALL PART OF TRUMP’S PLAN. Lull your opponent into a false sense of security. Let her lead by 9 percentage points in August. Then after Labor Day? BAM! Turn on your master persuader skills. Result: Landslide.

2/ pre-Labor Day, and bracing against events beyond its control after that. Trump team betting ppl can be persuaded from Labor Day 2 Nov 8

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 9, 2016

clare.malone (Clare Malone, senior political writer): I think that Susan Collins had the luxury of making a moral stand because she isn’t up for re-election this year. I would be more interested to see something like that from someone like Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is up for re-election in New Hampshire and actually has something to lose. I’m not sure Ayotte would get Republicans seeing her side of the equation if she abandoned Trump. I was in the convention hall in Cleveland after Ted Cruz shunned a Trump endorsement and people did not seem super happy. “Binary choice” is the buzz-phrase du jour in the GOP right now.

dave (David Wasserman, House editor at the Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight contributor): …

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