LBJ was a longtime congressman and a member of his party, dedicated to advancing its goals and smart enough to understand that Vietnam was a complete and utter disaster.
Let’s admit the obvious, Donald Trump has bungled COVID-19 hard, his actions may have directly lead to the death of Herman Cain, on top of desecrating American prestige around the world, directly giving evidence of police brutality to demonstrators seeking to stop it; was impeached for non-blowjob reasons, and the ramifications of poor, pay to play government may lead to a pile of scandals for another decade.
These GOP operatives are probably asking the question. The establishment has ultimately knelt to Trump, and carried water to the point of Stoogecraft, to the point where their votes on impeachment give them their own scarlet letter to wear. After failing to make common cause in the primary, failing to protect the guardrails inside the administration, and refusing to challenge Trump as he commits increasingly egregious acts, the sky has simply fallen.
If Trump drops out, the presidential election is a bust; the GOP loses momentum on getting people to vote. In normal times, this is a disaster and why party leaders would pick a strong character to try to run–even if they lose, they narrow the lead of the other party. We’re talking electoral bloodbath here, they very don’t want to do this.
Except if Trump stays in, its the same bloodbath, but with a variety more baggage. Trump isn’t going to win re-election, he’s not going to make the election close; instead, he will continue to demand fealty to himself. He will pull many candidates into the rain gutter with him, and perhaps more hauntingly, that baggage may do so for many years afterward.
Trump has beaten the odds in 2016. I’m not sure how you look at being down 3% in key states, somehow eking out a win, and then decide that polls showing you down by 10% is grounds to quit–I think a lot of rational people would stick it out. There is the added consequence that Trump personally may only be avoiding arrest because the DoJ is run by Barr and has policies against going after a sitting president, so staying in office means delaying that reckoning.
One things matters to Trump, himself. Unless he was convinced that his personal well being was on the line, he will stay in office.