Election Day 2020 is closer than we think. Sure, we have yet to see the end to winter; we have an entire summer ahead. However, once all the states get their primary votes counted, November 3rd will be less than four months away. Here is the breakdown: Super Tuesday is on March 3rd. A week after this political “holiday,” six other states will have their voices heard. April will see eleven more states vote in the primary. Over the course of May, six more states will vote. June is the last month to hold elections, with seven states and territories wrapping up the work. Then in July, the Democratic National Convention will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From that point on, the Democratic candidate will only have about 3.5 months, full time, to campaign against the president.
Within this primary and post-primary stretch, there exist simple, opposing objectives between Democrats and Republicans. All the GOP has to do is wage an outright campaign against every and any Democratic hopeful. It doesn’t matter who the liberals nominate. The Democrats have a steeper and more ambitious task: unite both wings of the party (moderate and progressive) and then beat a sitting president. This is one of the difficult, nearly insurmountable, factors that point to a rather swift and very likely re-election of Donald J. Trump.
Re-election favors incumbency. Well, this bodes true for recent American presidents. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama — the three immediate predecessors to Trump — all sought and achieved two terms. George H. W. Bush was the last incumbent president that saw defeat in a bid for a second term, and the year was 1992. If the trend holds, Trump will win in 2020. There are reasons for this trend, a trend that reveals a more favorable result for the incumbent than the challenger: fundraising and party infighting.
President Trump wasted no time setting his sights on 2020; he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on the very day he was inaugurated. This was his “two birds with one stone” throw — a message to both major parties that said, “don’t challenge me in the primary” and “I’ll be back in four years.” This early decision was financially shrewd, having signaled to his supporters and deep-wallet fundraisers to ready themselves for another battle down the road. In 2019 alone, Trump and the RNC raised a massive sum of $463 million. In comparison, Obama raised $220 million in 2011 — the year before his re-election. By the end of November 2019, the DNC had only raised $83.6 million and had a debt of $6.5 million. Trump has been outraising the Democratic establishment at an alarming pace. It’s fair questioning whether or not the Democrats will be ready or enthusiastic enough to throw the sufficient funds required behind the eventual nominee. This brings me to my next point, the eventual nominee. Until we boil down to the one, the primary process still needs to unfold. Meanwhile, the president sees no real challenger for his party’s nomination. The Republicans already know what they are getting on the November ballot. And the Left is divided. By his very nature of practically running unopposed in the GOP primary, the president doesn’t have to attract or fight for different Republican voters for actual votes or money. They’re already on his side.
If the recent Democratic debate in Nevada showed us anything, it showed that the current state of the party is in disarray. It was a bloody boxing match that revealed a party that, on that night, was split six different ways. It showed six relatively different visions for the country. The only big shared vision these people hold is a White House without Trump. I find it hard to believe that a Bloomberg voter is going to rally around a nominee like Warren. I don’t see Sanders voters pledging complete & total support to a nominee like Biden — or vice versa. If a progressive candidate is chosen, independents and moderate Democrats might be apprehensive; if a moderate is chosen, the progressive wing will be discouraged. So we’re left with a divided party. And it’s like 2016 all over again, because it doesn’t take a lot of people to swing an election. I’m referring to 79,646 voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. That’s the small number of people that swayed the 2016 election in the favor of Trump. Less than 80,000 voters in three critical states.
The multi-split party also signals to the possibility of a brokered or contested convention. There are slight differences between these two situations and terms. A brokered convention occurs when a party fails to nominate a candidate on the first ballot because no candidate gets the votes of more than half the delegates. A series of complex negotiations follow, captained by brokers that represent states. Via Brookings: “These brokers could be governors, senators or big-city mayors — anyone who had the power to control or persuade other delegates.” The contested convention is more common in modern times. “This refers to a situation in which one candidate has done well but not well enough to guarantee a first-ballot win; another candidate attempts to convince enough other delegates to abandon the frontrunner and come to him or her before the first ballot takes place.” In either of these cases, there exists a possibly messy convention in July — which would just further express Democratic division to the GOP.
Overall, Trump is a better uniter of Republicans than any candidate on the Left is of the Democrats. Just last month, the president saw his job approval numbers hit a personal best at 49%. In February 2012, when Barack Obama was facing re-election, his approval was at 45%. He still secured a second term. There is financial confidence too; earlier this month, Gallup reported record-high optimism on personal finances. 59% of Americans say they are now better off financially than they were last year. An impressive 74% say they will be better off financially in a year. Beyond finances, Gallup is also reporting that 61% of Americans are saying that they are better off than they were three years ago. Trump hit another record in January — support among Republicans. A whopping 90% of Republicans approved of his job performance, per a Hill-HarrisX poll. Why change course with electing a new president? Especially when that change comes in the form of a massive shift, a “political revolution.”
It is important to recall that all of these positive numbers have come subsequent to a two-year-long DOJ investigation and a dramatic impeachment. Despite the president’s abuse of power, willingness to work with foreign nations to benefit his political agenda, calls for outside interference and investigations, Trump looks poised and prepared to secure another term. His acquittal in the Senate should not have just proclaimed an innocence on two articles of impeachment. This should have served as a larger, lurid signal: All is forgiven.
The president’s coalition will stand with him through thick and thin. His campaign is massively underrated. He has garnered the respect and support of the GOP largely because he has stuck to his word. He’s pro-Israel and pro-military. He’s a big defender of the second amendment. He’s somehow still popular among evangelical voters. The president will yet again earn the votes of single-issue voters, i.e. pro-life voters and people who only want to see conservative judges appointed to the Supreme Court. Up until now, with the Coronavirus concerns, the stock market has largely been on the rise under the Trump administration. The tight polling numbers in states like Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin should give the Democrats some pause.
For these reasons, I think it’s likely that the president is re-elected in November. Unseating him would be a political task akin to scaling Everest. Until Election Day, the Democrats will continue to tear each other apart — creating a rift in the fabric, the current identity, of the party. One thing is for certain: The GOP is far more united than the Left. The Right’s identity is not in question. If the Democrats win back the White House later this year, it will be a result of the highest voter turnout in history. The “political revolution” needs to be real. The enthusiasm has to be real, no matter the nominee. There is no other way.