There has been a lot of justification for the “abandon Trump” strategy comparing it to the GOPs tactics in 1996. Is that fair? Yes and No.
Here is a quote from a NYT 1996 campaign article:
Republican campaign operatives are urging their party’s Congressional candidates to cut loose from Bob Dole and press voters to maintain a Republican majority and deny a re-elected President Clinton a ”blank check.”
The advice, being passed on by field workers from the National Republican Congressional Committee, dovetails with some major findings of the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, which shows Democrats holding a 47-to-39-percent advantage when people were asked which party they would support.
. . .The advice to candidates to stress the ”blank check” argument is being offered to Republican candidates who are running below 50 percent in their own polling. They are being assured, the aide said, that the national Republican headquarters will not be angry with them or cut off their campaign funds if they concede that Mr. Dole will lose and they tried to save themselves.
Sounds very similar, till you look at the date — October 23, 1996, 12 days out from the election.
Its pretty different when the party signals thin the middle of August, 7 or so times further out. Its a measure of just how much the Presidential race is already set in concrete.
Note also that this advice was limited to those polling under 50%. We know of no such qualification now.