December 16, 2018

Predicting a Trump Victory in 2020

outraged women marching

If the liberals I follow on Twitter are right, President Donald Trump's days are numbered. Robert Mueller is coming, and Trump will be impeached long before the 2020 U.S. presidential election. I find this unlikely. I hate to say it, but I think that the title Ford O'Connell's recent post in The Hill is much closer to what we will probably see: "Trump will likely win reelection in 2020." Yep. I know it isn't a popular thought among liberals, but I think the safe bet is that we'll probably see another Trump term.

O'Connell briefly reviews the crowded field of possible Democratic candidates before noting that incumbent presidents tend to do fairly well when it comes to being reelected and that there is not usually much of a relationship between the midterm election that occurs during a president's first term and whether they are reelected. These points can be argued, of course. Trump is hardly a typical incumbent, and the anti-Trump sentiment reflected by Democratic wins in the House could continue to build into something we haven't seen before. But while that is possible, I can't say it strikes me as probable.

Then O'Connell drops what might be the most important consideration:

Add in the fact that the 2020 Electoral College playing field will likely be very similar to the 2016 edition (40 states are essentially already decided and 10 are up for grabs), and one starts to see why Trump has a very real chance of securing four more years in the White House. To prevail, the Democratic nominee would have to either sweep the Rust Belt (Pa., Wis., Mich., Minn.) or dislodge Florida or Arizona from Trump. Not an easy task.
Right. Either one of those outcomes is possible, but neither seems likely. The Democratic Party remains as focused on identity politics as they were in 2016, and this has not been an effective strategy of separating Trump from those who support him. There's no question that some of those who voted for Trump in 2016 are disappointed that he hasn't been better in advocating for their interests, but they don't appear to be flocking to the Democratic Party.

It is not too late for the Democrats to find a candidate who will give Trump a competitive race. As long as the economy remains strong, their path to victory is unclear. I'm not sure Trump really needs to broaden his appeal as long as he can poke some holes in the appeal of whoever the Democrats run. And sadly, the Democrats usually manage to do that on their own. So yes, I'll be disappointed but not surprised if Trump wins a second term.