Monday, February 17, 2020

Defeating Trump. What It Will Take.

Trump has a clear advantage in running for President as an incumbent, particularly being an incumbent at a time when the U.S. economy is strong.  There have been only nine Presidents who ran for a second term and lost.  Some people include two others-Grover Cleveland and Lyndon Johnson.  Actually, Johnson decided not to seek a second term, so technically he probably should not be included.  Cleveland actually served two terms, but they weren’t consecutive.  He served from 1885 to 1889.  Lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888 but won in 1893.
In all nine cases where a sitting president lost a bid for a second term, the economy was a factor.  There were usually other factors, for example, Carter was burdened with the Iran hostage crisis.  Never-the-less, presidents who seek a second term usually win re-election provided the economy is in reasonably good shape.
Read more about presidents who lost their bid for a second term here:   
And here: 
While Donald Trump can not take credit for the state of the U.S. economy in 2020 since he inherited an economy in good shape from Obama, he will get credit for at least not causing a reversal in positive trends that existed when he took office.  In short, as far as the economy goes Trump is in good shape to be elected.  His biggest problems that make him vulnerable, except for his healthcare and tax/debt policies, have to do with his personality, especially as expressed through his tweets.  One can make a good argument that the biggest thing Trump could have done to secure re-election was to stop tweeting and to keep his mouth shut except when reading carefully scripted addresses.  In short, Trump's mouth has been his own worst enemy.  
To beat Trump in 2020, Democrats have to do five things:
1. Remind Americans how much they personally dislike Trump as a human being and why. Unlike every other President going back to Harry Truman (1945-1953), Trump’s average approval rating has NEVER been above 50%, in fact, he got an average approval above 45% only once and that was during his first month in office.  Since 1952, no sitting President has been elected for a second term if his approval rating was less than 50%. American’s really don’t like this man, even those who agree with many, if not most of his policies.  We must remind them of what they dislike about Trump.  See:
2. Offer Americans a candidate who is just the opposite of Trump, i.e., smart, likable and someone they can be proud to have as their leader and spokesperson for the country.  Our candidate must have a record of accomplishment that contrasts sharply with Trump’s record of failure.  
3. Reassure Americans that the policies Democrats offer will continue the trends that started in the Obama years—low unemployment, rising incomes, strong stock market—and address issues that Americans face that Trump and Republicans have failed to address or even made worse such as expanding access to affordable healthcare and education, income inequality, the national debt, and the environment.  Democrats must offer Americans a positive and non-threatening future.   And, the word “Socialist” is a big problem for Democrats.  In January, Gallup conducted a poll in which it asked Americans whether they would vote for a candidate for President based upon candidate characteristics, one of which was a candidate who was a Socialist.  Only 45% of Americans said they would vote for a Socialist compared to over 90% who would vote for a Black, Catholic, Hispanic, Jewish person, or Woman.  Fewer Americans would vote for a Socialist than a Muslim or Atheist.  Socialist was the ONLY label that turned off more than half of Americans when it came to selecting a President.  Democrats may be able to overcome this reluctance to vote for a Socialist by distinguishing between Socialism and Democratic Socialism but that will require a lot of educating of Americans while Republicans hammer away with the simple messages—Socialism=BAD, Socialism=DANGEROUS, Socialism=UNAMERICAN.  That said, it is true that Bernie Sanders, who has embraced the label Democratic Socialist, currently leads Trump in the RealClear Politics polling average, although by a smaller margin (4.3 points) than Bloomberg (6 points) and Biden (5.6 points).  And, as Pete Buttigieg pointed out Republicans are going to try to label all Democrats as Crazy Socialists regardless of the label the Democrats apply to themselves or the policies they put forward even if those policies are conservative.  
4. Stay united in their determination to beat Trump.  This is perhaps the most important thing Democrats must do.  Trump will have a united party.  Most Republicans, even those who don’t like Trump, will still vote for him and work to get him re-elected.  If Centrists and Progressives can’t unite around the person who wins the Democratic nomination, Trump is almost guaranteed to win.  We can’t go into the fall election still fighting among ourselves.  We can’t win if Democrats don’t turn out in record numbers. In particular, we need a large turnout among the type of voters that made a substantial difference in the outcome of the 2018 mid-term election.

5.  Learn the lessons of 2018.  Democrats need to pay close attention to the 2018 mid-term elections.  According to an excellent analysis by Catalist Analytics ,  “young voters and voters of color, particularly Latinx voters, were a substantially larger share of the electorate” in 2018 and that benefited Democrats.   Catalist says the youth turnout double between the 2014 and 2018 mid-terms.  Democrats saw the biggest gains among young white voters (25-39 age group shifted Democratic by 17 to 18 points), white college voters (10-point gain), and people …historically modeled as neither Democratic nor Republican,” but in the middle ideologically.  Finally, a large portion of Democratic “gains came from people who voted in (2016 and 2018), switching from supporting Trump in 2016 to supporting Democrats in 2018.” Democrats must keep those types of voters in the Democratic column in 2020.  They could and very likely will provide the margin of victory for whichever party wins.  In short, Democrats must get a large turnout from their base while keeping 2016 Trump voters who switched and voted for Democrats in the 2018 mid-terms.  That’s going to be tricky since the former are more liberal/progressive and the latter more centrist.  Additionally, Trump and the Democrats will be going after some of the same key voters who may provide the margin of victory in the election.  One of Trump’s goals is to go after black voters and to win back the upper-income white voters that the Republicans lost in 2018.
Winning in 2020 will not be easy.  
Trump has the advantage of a strong economy, the incumbency, dedicated core supporters, and a united party. Additionally, Trump and Republicans generally have no qualms about cheating, suppressing the vote, spreading disinformation, encouraging other nations to interfere in the election on behalf of Trump, and deploying a wide range of dirty tricks.  Trump and Republicans will do anything do secure Trump’s re-election and control of Congress without concern for whether their actions are legal or ethical.
2020 will be one of the most challenging elections Democrats have ever faced.  Winning is possible with the right strategy, one that builds upon the lessons of 2018, but the Democratic core voters must be united and focused on one thing above all—Defeating Trump.  Above all, Republicans must not be allowed to retain control of the White House and Senate and regain control of the House.  That would be a nightmare for the country.  The outcome of the 2020 election will shape the country for decades to come.
Folks, this is going to be a watershed year and a tough, tough battle for people who care about America.  We can win but it will not be easy.  That’s why we need the most electable candidate we can find AND why we must stay united in one goal on which all Democrats can agree:  
Beat Donald Trump.

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