It is a tough time to be a Democrat. And I do not wish to exasperate the current state of progressive pessimism. But much like Al Gore, I am compelled to share a rather inconvenient truth: President Donald Trump is likely to be reelected in 2020.
This sentiment may seem unthinkable to some, but I fear many Democrats are resting on a false pretense of hope. Surely any president who engages in race baiting, disparaging women and spreading falsehoods with impunity could not possibly be reelected.
Perhaps this would be true for any other commander-in-chief in American history, but not Trump. After all, this is the man who once boasted “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” When I initially read this quote in NPR, I chuckled. But it is now two years later. And sadly, I am starting to believe it.
How can Trump possibly win reelection? Consider the following.
Since 1976, only two presidents have failed to be reelected. In 1980 Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan and in 1992, George H. W. Bush was bested by Bill Clinton. In each case, both presidents were undermined by stagnant economies which fueled the ire of voters. But despite a litany of controversies, economic woes are not among Trump’s concerns.
In September 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the nation’s unemployment had declined to 3.7 percent. According to the Washington Post, this represents a nearly 50-year low. And with the stock market thriving, one can understand the economic appeal of Trump populism. If nothing else, a strong economy will forgive a lot of indiscretions. Thus far, Trump has effectively manipulated his base by repeatedly denouncing the Mueller investigation as a “Deep State” political witch hunt. And despite the fact that Trump has been accused of extramarital affairs with both a porn star and a Playboy playmate, he continues to retain strong support from evangelicals.
As reported by The New York Times, Trump has already raised more than $100 million dollars for his 2020 reelection bid. According to Ben Kamisar from NBC News, “Trump’s fundraising bonanza has been boosted significantly by small-dollar donations, with his campaign committee having raised a majority of its funds from donations of less than $200.” The fact that Trump is generating massive income from a plethora of individual donors highlights the viability of his candidacy.
The person who will challenge Trump in 2020 has yet to be determined. A poll published by the New York Daily News on Oct. 14 shows former Vice President Joe Biden garnering the most public support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. If voters are seeking inspiration from a fresh wave of Democratic leaders, they may be sorely disappointed.
Of course, we are still two years away from the general election and anything can happen. Perhaps Trump will test his Fifth Avenue theory. I certainly hope not, but who knows? Regardless, if Trump survives Mueller’s investigation and the economy stays strong, his reelection seems probable. And with that, long-suffering Democrats will have to wait until 2024 for redemption.