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Monday, December 17 2018

Most people don’t like the perpetual campaign cycle that we’re in.  As soon as the presidential election ends, angling and posturing for the midterms begins.  As soon as the midterms conclude, presidential campaigns begin in earnest.  There’s no escaping it for those who even try to stay peripherally informed politically.  With 24-hour news channels desperately looking for something to fill time, social media that keeps up a persistent drumbeat of political opinion making, and our increasingly polarized political climate, I’m afraid to say that it’s here to stay.

So with that in mind, for my money I am yet to see a better prediction and analysis of what is to come in the 2020 presidential election than what conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg recently published.  Like me, at this point Goldberg sees Trump’s re-election chances to be a longshot. 

The recent Fox News poll that had only Trump on the ballot found that 55% of respondents would vote for his opponent, while only 38% would vote for him.  And for Trumpists who scoff at that, pointing to how wrong the polls were in 2016, at some point reality is going to have to dawn on them that the country really isn’t with them as much as they think.  The majority of Americans voted for Hillary Clinton of all people in preference to Trump.  Think about that.  More people preferred someone as corrupt, disingenuous, and frankly incompetent as Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.  That should be embarrassing for any Trump fan. 

It’s true that the electoral college functioned exactly as it should, selecting Trump for the presidency.  But in order for that to repeat in 2020, Trump would have to hold on to the same states that tipped the election his way four years prior: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan.  As Goldberg points out, that’s 78,000 in those states that narrowly brought him the needed electoral votes.  Is that going to happen?  Here’s Goldberg:

Most presidents work assiduously to build on the coalition that brought them to power. President Trump has done almost the opposite, catering to his base while doing almost everything he can to alienate suburban Republicans and independents, which is why the GOP got shellacked in the midterms.

So, it looks bleak for Trump.  But that’s only half the story.  Remember how Trump won in the first place – enough voters in the right places, even if not a majority nationally, believed he was preferable to the alternative.  Is it unreasonable to think that the same thing could happen in 2020?  Absolutely not. 

The odds of the Democrats nominating a centrist, or someone other than a rabid left-wing proponent of radical socialist concepts like Medicare-for-all or “free college” or repealing the 2nd Amendment increase dramatically as more and more contenders throw their hat in the ring.  More candidates mean a smaller amount of dedicated and passionate followers can bring about a nomination.  In the primaries, the most dedicated and passionate followers are far-left activists. 

This is further complicated by the increasing likelihood that Democrats will impeach President Trump.  How does the electorate respond to that?  How will the Democrat base coalesce or fracture as it unfolds?  How much of a defining issue will “lock him up” be for the Democrat base in 2020, and how will that play nationally? 

All this brings me back to Goldberg who summarizes what is to come better than anyone with this simple phrase: “He can’t win, but they can still lose.”

Posted by: Peter Heck AT 08:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email