Trump: Is he likely to win in 2020?
The refrain grows louder every day among anxious liberals, said Thomas Friedman in The New York Times: “Trump’s going to get re-elected, isn’t he?” And it’s not hard to understand their concern. Though Donald Trump is a historically unpopular president who often behaves like a “jerk,” Democrats seem determined to squander that advantage by insisting their nominee support “extreme ideas” from the far left such as decriminalizing border crossing and eliminating private health insurance. Not only that, said Nate Cohn in NYTimes.com, Trump has a built-in advantage in the Electoral College. Current national polls show Trump’s approval ratings underwater by 9 percent, with 53 percent of voters saying they definitely plan to vote against him—an indication that some of his 2016 voters “have soured on his presidency.” But to win again in the critical battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Trump will portray Democrats as “open border” socialists—and “a strategy rooted in racial polarization” just might win over “wavering working-class voters.” Indeed, Trump could eke out a narrow Electoral College victory even if he loses the popular vote by “as much as 5 percentage points.”
That’s possible but not likely, said Jim Geraghty in NationalReview.com. Trump “needs to do way better than his current poll numbers” to stand a chance in 2020. Even if the polls are undermeasuring Trump’s support in the Rust Belt by as much as 8 points, as they did in 2016, the president would still lose to Joe Biden in these states if the election were held today. Democrats, of course, may nominate someone other than Biden, said Philip Bump in The Washington Post, but it won’t be the widely disliked Hillary Clinton. Trump, in all likelihood, will have to beat a more popular opponent than he did in 2016, and will no longer get “the benefit of the doubt” from voters looking for a fresh face in the Oval Office.
Trump’s in a bind, said Ron Brownstein in The Atlantic. He hopes to energize white working-class voters by stoking the fires of “racial and cultural strife.” But with a 2016 margin of victory of only 77,000 votes over three swing states, he can’t afford to alienate any of his more moderate supporters—and new polls show him doing just that. A growing number of voters approve of Trump’s job performance on the economy, but disapprove of his character, his rhetoric, and his values. “Swing voters” may be an endangered species in these polarized times, said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com, but if fence-sitters decide Trump has gone too far, they may either stay home or vote for the Democrat.
The media is desperately peddling the narrative that Trump is in “dire trouble,” said Mollie Hemingway in TheFederalist.com, but predicting 2020 is actually “not complicated.” Incumbent presidents usually win, and that usually becomes almost always when like Trump they’re presiding over a strong economy. The grim reality, said Joshua Whitfield in The Dallas Morning News, is that Trump “plays the games of politics and psychology better than anyone else.” No matter whom Democrats nominate, Trump will once again dominate every news cycle with the sinister but masterful message: “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.” Like no other politician on the scene, Trump intuitively understands America’s darkest fears and impulses, and how to exploit them. “We elected Trump once and we’ll elect him again.” ■