Currently, polls have President Trump losing to all the major Democratic candidates in head-to-head contests. What may happen between now and the Election that would enable Trump to capture a second term?
The first thing to consider is the polls themselves. It appears that Trump’s base continues to be about 40% of the electorate, obviously not enough to win a general election. He needs 10% more support to gain a majority. Keep in mind the winner must win the majority of electoral votes to claim the presidency. But unless another anomaly occurs, the winner of the popular vote will also be the victor in the Electoral College.
The obvious place for Trump to gain a majority is with independents. Because this group is the least vocal, it’s sometimes hard to read their state of mind. A thriving economy will certainly have a positive impact on Trump’s fortunes with independents, especially since economic conditions are already moving forward at a good clip. The opposite, a poor economic outlook, would be a huge problem for the president.
Trump is treading on thin ice in a number of areas diplomatically that could lead to military action. Specifically these might involve Iran, North Korea and any number of hot spots around the world, in particular, the Middle East. A military strike against either of the countries above will not help Trump’s cause in 2020. However, a resolution of one or both brewing conflicts would substantiate the administration’s tough negotiating style.
Economic warfare is another issue that can make or break the president’s campaign. A positive end to the Chinese standoff would be a huge win for Trump. His unwavering strength in conversations with his Chinese counterpart could be a disaster or a monstrous step forward for America. Moreover a win against China will greatly impact other trade confrontations under way with Europe, Mexico, Canada and Japan.
Turnout will be a big factor in the 2020 Election. Certain groups historically have not been reliable at the polls, in particular young people and blacks. Both groups are overwhelmingly supportive of liberal candidates, but they must go to the polls to exert their influence. High turnout will greatly enhance the prospects of Democratic candidates. The bigger question is whether liberal aspirants will inspire millennials and people of color to ensure their participation.
There are a plethora of other possible events that could sway the electorate, one way or the other.
If Republicans effectively label Democrats as socialists, the latter will lose votes. Given the persuasion of most liberal contenders, this campaign strategy should be a winner for the G.O.P. The country is not, nor will it ever be, anything but a capitalistic society that rewards hard work, ambition and creativity.
A terrorist attack is always a big risk for liberals as it validates all of the paranoia of Republicans. Conservatives are much more aggressive in their rhetoric against enemies of America that as of late include unbridled illegal immigrants on the southern border. The right’s desire for a strong homeland has always been an advantage.
Massive protests are occurring regularly around the world. The latest is in an unlikely place, Hong Kong, as it fights against China’s efforts to stem the tide of personal freedom. If unrest grows in the US, it will probably be in support of one or more liberal causes. This form of expression is very powerful and will benefit the left. The likely issues include income inequality, racial inequality, health care and women’s reproductive rights.
Right now the scales are tilted towards Democrats. But their field of candidates is weak and untested. Nevertheless it would be hazardous to place a bet on the outcome of the 2020 Election at this time.