Trump Is Vulnerable In 2020
The Democrats scored an impressive series of victories in the 2018 mid-term elections. We picked up 40 House seats, 7 governorships and around 400 legislative seats. The Democrats won the national popular vote by 8.6 million votes. That’s the largest margin of victory in history for either party, according to NBC News election data.
The great victory of 2018 in no way guarantees another victory in 2020. Reagan, Clinton and Obama all lost badly in their first mid-term election cycles but came back to easily win re-election. We must not be over confident or complacent about our chances in 2020.
Going back to 1932, the factors that lead to a president being re-elected are as follows: 1. A growing economy; 2. Strong approval ratings; 3. The incumbent party has held the White House for only one term; and 4. The lack of a serious primary challenger.
The factors that lead to a president to getting knocked off are as follows: 1. A weak economy in which the middle class has lost ground since the incumbent took office; 2. Approval ratings lower than 50%; 3. The incumbent party has held the White House for more than one term; 4. A divisive primary challenge; and 5. A major scandal.
Democratic presidents were all comfortably re-elected between 1936 and 1948. Roosevelt and Truman enjoyed growing economies and in some cases, inept opponents. This was an era in which the Democrats had a natural majority in the presidential election cycles.
Eisenhower in 1956, Johnson in 1964, Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984, Clinton in 1996, Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2012 had all of the positive factors for re-election in their favor. Moreover, all of these presidents were skilled politicians who in many cases drew weak opponents.
I will warn you that history shows that most incumbent presidents get re-elected, especially ones whose party has only held the White House for one term. In the absence of some kind of disaster or scandal, the voters tend to give the incumbent party a second term to fulfill their promises.
Herbert Hoover was one of the few incumbent presidents who failed to get re-elected. Hoover presided over the deepest economic depression in U.S. history and seemed to be indifferent to the human suffering that it caused. Moreover, in 1932, the GOP was seeking a fourth consecutive victory in a presidential election.
Gerald Ford also suffered the indignity of failing to get re-elected. Ford was the only appointed president in U.S. history and he was saddled with the Nixon pardon. Ford barely fended off a primary challenge from Reagan and the GOP was seeking the White House for the third consecutive cycle. The economy was good in 1976 and Jimmy Carter won by a narrow margin of 297 to 241 in the electoral college.
Jimmy Carter was the only incumbent president in modern history to be ousted after his party had only held the White House for one term. Carter had the misfortune to preside over a very poor economy in 1979–80 and was further dragged down by the Iranian hostage crisis. In addition, Carter had to fend off a serious primary challenge from Ted Kennedy. Finally, Carter had low approval ratings during much of the 1980 election cycle.
George H.W. Bush had the unenviable task of cleaning up Reagan’s mess. He was forced to take unpopular steps such as raising taxes and bailing out the savings and loan industry. Bush’s approval ratings sank like a stone once the economy went into a recession in 1991. Moreover, Bush was attempting to hold the White House for the GOP for a fourth consecutive time.
At the present time, Trump has two of the key warning signs for vulnerability. He is an historically unpopular president who has never had approval ratings over 50%. Trump’s approval ratings have been consistently mired in the low 40s with occasional short swings up and down. Moreover, major scandals appear to be engulfing his administration.
The wild card in the deck now appears to be the economy. Even though unemployment is low, most Americans haven’t seen any benefits. Most Americans’ wages are stagnant or barely rising. The economy could go into a recession before 2020 due to a combination of Trump’s trade war and the skyrocketing deficits.
I believe that Trump will be vulnerable in 2020 due to a recession and the growing scandals surrounding his presidency. In addition, Trump is an erratic and not terribly bright person who won’t respond well to these upcoming setbacks.
In any event, we Democrats need to be united in order to win the White House in 2020. As President Obama said: “Vote, participate, get involved, even if the message and the messenger aren’t perfect, and even if there’s no tingle in your spine and you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving. Politics, like life, is imperfect. But there is better and there is worse.”
We were united in 2018 and we won big! Let’s do it again in 2020!