One reason Mr. Trump may feel differently is the possibility that he may not be that winner. Mr. Biden has consistently led the president in polls for months, and a new survey released Sunday by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found the Democrat’s lead stable at 51 percent to 43 percent, essentially unchanged since before the two parties’ nominating conventions. Mr. Trump’s focus on law and order in recent weeks has not changed the overall dynamics of the race, and nine in 10 of those surveyed said their minds were firmly made up.
The White House hopes that a Supreme Court fight will make a difference when everything up until now has not, giving Republican voters who care about the courts, particularly those opposed to legal abortion, a reason to turn out for him despite any concerns about his handling of the coronavirus, the state of the economy or other issues.
“Trump needed a circuit-breaking event to change the dynamic of the race, which has clearly favored Biden so far,” said Douglas B. Sosnik, who was President Bill Clinton’s White House political director during his 1996 re-election campaign. “Up until now, the election has largely been about the impact of the coronavirus on the health of the public and of the economy, and any day that’s the focus is a bad day for Trump.”
Mr. Trump vowed at his campaign rally on Saturday night to pick a woman, and people informed about the process said on Sunday that he was considering Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, Judge Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit in Atlanta and Kate Todd, a deputy White House counsel.
Judge Barrett, a favorite of conservatives for her staunch opposition to abortion, is considered the favorite, and many Republicans active in court issues would be disappointed if the president picked anyone else. Judge Lagoa is seen as the second choice, appealing to the president in particular because of her Cuban-American heritage and ties to Florida, a must-win state for Mr. Trump this fall.
Ms. Todd, who has been helping to manage the judicial nomination process, has admirers in the White House, although she is thought to be a distant third. Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, has also been promoting Judge Allison Jones Rushing of the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, who was appointed to the bench by Mr. Trump just last year and at age 38 is viewed by many as too young, according to the people close to the process.