Donald Trump has been an abysmal president, but he still could get reelected in 2020. Unless the Democrats are more successful than usual at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory they will retain the House. The big question is the Senate; and it goes from extremely important to crucial if Trump should happen to win. Let’s explore.
You say Trump can’t possibly win reelection. Well, I hope you are correct and agree that you should be but here are a few things to consider. Many models show him winning. There already is and will continue to be foreign interference befitting him. He is totally immoral and is certainly not above cheating to win. He defies all norms and will use his incumbency to his personal benefit. He will stop at nothing, including starting a war, if he feels it will help him electorally. We are currently a highly politically polarized nation. Greed at the top is a tremendous factor and the 1% has done very well under Trump.
Now for a history lesson; just in my lifetime America has reelected Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush despite failed first terms and/or scandal. Those were in less polarized times and before the right wing mythology machine led by Fox News. There is legitimate speculation that Nixon would never have resigned if he had Fox.
Bottom line: It could happen.
Now the question becomes: What does that mean? In order to keep a lame duck Trump somewhat in check you would need to control both chambers of Congress at a minimum. Assuming the Democrats keep the House and Trump is reelected, they would need to flip a net of four Senate seats to take control of that chamber. The numbers are favorable for that to happen if the best candidates run. At this writing the only Democratic seat that looks to be in serious jeopardy is Doug Jones’ in Alabama. The Alabama GOP Senate primary will be something to watch but if Roy Moore should happen to win it suddenly Jones’ chances look much better. That still would mean the Democrats would have to flip four seats elsewhere as well as defending the other 11 seats they currently hold.
With the Republicans defending 22 seats there are plenty of opportunities; at this writing the optimal candidates have yet to step up to the plate and that is a problem. Hopefully as the dust settles from the first round of Democratic presidential debates that will situation start to change.
According to the latest polling five candidates have separated themselves from the rest of the field: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. At this point both Biden and Sanders are fading while Buttigieg is marginally hanging in the top tier. A lot can and will happen over the next few months but at this point it appears a two woman race is developing. Remember it’s early and polls are only a snapshot. Still it is starting to look like time for Plan B for most of the other wannabes.
Senator Cory Booker needs to take a bit of time off and then declare for reelection in New Jersey. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has to come to the realization that he will not be the next president of the United States but that he could become the next U.S. Senator from Colorado. Montana Governor Steve Bullock can’t draw flies in the big contest but he could get enough Montanans to vote for him to join Jon Tester in the upper chamber.
Next is an interesting one that emerged from round 1. All along I’ve been among the many who felt Beto O’Rourke had a good chance of stopping John Cornyn’s reelection bid in Texas. Then he got destroyed by fellow Texan Julian Castro in Miami. Castro got a tiny bump – mostly reflected in interest if not support – but Beto’s numbers sank. Castro has already been a Cabinet secretary so auditioning for that job is unlikely. He is not going to be the nominee which should be abundantly clear to him by now. The Veep spot doesn’t appear at all logical. But if he were to declare for the Senate the Democratic nod should be his rather easily (if not uncontested) and he could hand Cornyn a legitimate challenge.
Stacey Abrams I hope you are reading this. Get off the sidelines and help your team by giving David Perdue the race of his life. If you want to help the cause then play in the spot that is open and where you have the potential to do the most good.
With control of the Senate, Democrats can block the most offensive Trump judicial and executive branch nominees. They can also bring good legislation coming out of the House to the floor and in many cases pass it. Trump may well veto it and Congress will lack the votes to override, but at least they have done their job and shown the people the difference between the two parties. Nothing infuriates me more than hearing people say there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats.
That gives me a great segue to my closing thought. The two biggest factors that will affect the 2020 outcome are time and voter turnout. What will happen between now and then? If the people turnout out to vote they will turn Trump out of the White House despite anything he or his allies (both foreign and domestic) do. In a representative democracy you get the government you deserve. That said better candidates get people off their couches.
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