Of course it is too early. We have more pressing matters at the moment besides fixating on the 2020 presidential election. But we can’t help ourselves. We’re hooked already. There are endless polls to weigh, fund-raising totals to measure, issues to debate and primaries to handicap. And looming over all of this is the demonic presence of Donald Trump, insatiably grabbing for the daily headlines. So, to feed this ongoing frenzy let us offer up two certainties: 1. Donald Trump will surely be re-elected; 2. Almost any Democrat will capture the White House next year.
Trump Will Triumph
• The general consensus is that the economy is doing pretty well (jobs, stock market, low inflation, consumer confidence, etc.). Trump will surely claim credit for this.
• Presidential incumbents have a decided advantage. Most chief executives get a second term.
• Money is pouring into Trump’s coffers. He ran on a shoestring in 2016. This time his financial resources will be impressive. Money helps greatly in messaging and in getting out the vote.
• Trump’s base has been unshakedly loyal and highly motivated. He begins with a solid core of support. Republicans back him to the hilt. Evangelicals, a solid electoral block, remain fully supportive.
• Trump reigns as master of the media. Beyond the torrent of tweets he is a daily presence in the newspapers, on TV, social media, etc. His “brand” is instantly recognizable.
• Russia will likely do its part (in an even more sophisticated way) to boost Trump vote totals.
• Fear, anxiety and anger remain highly effective motivators and Trump will continue to stoke the flames of resentment and vilify the many “enemies” of America.
• Abortion, immigration, guns remain hot button issues that will get out the Trump voters. Add to this, the ceaseless stockpiling of Conservative judges.
• He will continue to signal that he is the champion of “white” Americans.
• A “win” related to China, Russia, North Korea or Iran will surely boost Trump’s standing. Starting a war would also likely help his cause.
• Divisions among the Democrats will dampen motivation and reduce turnout (also likely to shrink owing to various strategies of voter suppression by Republicans).
• Trump cannot afford to lose the presidency. Not only will his immense ego be crushed, but he would face prosecution on many fronts, with convictions not unlikely. Accordingly, out of desperation, he’s likely to resort to any tactic to avoid defeat.
A Democrat Enters the White House
• Hilary Clinton ran what is widely conceded to be a highly flawed campaign in 2016. Democrats will learn from these missteps and improve their election operations.
• The 2018 elections demonstrated that the tide is turning to the Democrats
• Women, African Americans, Latinos, gun opponents, environmentalists, climate change campaigners, etc., have all mobilized and will be out in force in 2020. Republican attacks on health care insurance will galvanize legions of voters.
• Trump’s extremely narrow triumph in 2016 resulted from a once-in-a-lifetime, highly unusual, set of circumstances, unlikely to happen again.
• Even with a “good” economy Trump has never been able to rise above a 50% approval level. He has, since 2016, not gained supporters, whereas registered Republican totals have shrunk.
• Chances are the economy will falter and certainly slow down further in 2020. The stock market has, in all likelihood, peaked, plus the strong economy has not benefitted millions of Americans. If you’re boasting about a robust economy but individuals are not experiencing it – look out.
• Multiple ongoing investigations of Trump’s activities may produce damaging revelations.
• With no one able to curb the president’s erratic impulses, there’s no predicting how far off the grid Trump could go.
• Trump fatigue will set in, triggering a widespread desire to return to “normal.”
That’s where matters stand as of now. The edge goes to the Democrats. But they also enjoyed the advantage in 2016. And you know what happened.