And why President Trump is likely to lose in 2020.
American voters are never satisfied with the status quo. At least not in the last decade. From the moment the George W. Bush presidency drew to a close after the 2008 election, Americans have searched for a “change candidate” to “shake up Washington politics”.
Former President Barack Obama represented the first attempt at change by the electorate. Not so ironically, “change” was the central theme of Obama’s 2008 campaign. As the first African-American president, he certainly brought aesthetic change to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, at least. Whether he brought a change to politics as usual is debatable. If nothing else, his two terms as president at least agitated conservatives and satisfied the pallets of liberals.
In comes the 2016 election…
I would have bet real money against the chances of Donald Trump even getting the GOP nomination, much less winning the presidency. When he descended the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, especially after delivering a race-baiting, intellectually vapid speech where promised to build a southern border wall that Mexico would pay for to keep the “rapists” and “drugs” out, it appeared that Mr. Trump effectively killed his presidential aspirations before they even gained any traction.
I (obviously) could not have been more wrong about that.
Trump rode the wave of a dissatisfied, frustrated electorate who wanted real change, not another president who looks out for Wall Street while Main Street suffers from neglect.
Trump won because, in my estimation, his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, made two key errors in her bid for the presidency…
Firstly, she failed to repair the fractured Democratic Party by not at least making the gesture to ask the Democratic primary runner-up, Bernie Sanders, to be her running mate. By alienating Sanders’ supporters, she likely lowered the turnout of likely Democratic voters. In what turned out to be a tight election in the key states she needed to win, turning off voters who would have supported Sanders didn’t help her.
Secondly, Clinton underestimated Trump’s ability to win key states by not campaigning in the Rust Belt and Heartland states addressing the economic concerns in those areas. Trump only won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by a total of approximately 77,000 votes. Had she won those states, she would have won the Electoral College and the presidency.
Trump is the most vulnerable incumbent president since Bush 41. Trump will be hard-pressed to replicate his Electoral College victory because the problems he promised to fix in the Heartland and Rust Belt have gotten worse, not better. If the Democrats nominate a candidate who actively campaigns in the key states he barely won in 2016 in this election year, he will have no chance to get to 270.
Additionally, there are many people in the electorate who are not enamored with Trump’s tax law. Many Americans saw their tax bills go up significantly when they filed their 2018 taxes.
While Mr. Trump’s rabidly supportive base love his bombastic rhetoric and disruptive political behavior to shake up U.S. politics (aka: change), his base may not be enough to help him eke out an Electoral College victory in 2020.
However, I certainly will not be making any bets for 2020…
-The Rational Ram