A few people have asked for my analysis of the 2020 presidential race, particularly because I was one of the few national journalists who consistently predicted (see the 2:42 mark in this clip) that Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination, and then the presidency, starting in 2015.
I’m not an elections analyst, and so my read of the situation is worth about what you’re paying for it. My correct pick of Trump for 2016 could be chalked up to nothing more than a lucky guess. I also want to point out that my “pick” this year should not discourage anybody, no matter where they stand. To state the obvious: As much as many observers pretend to already know the outcome, Election Day hasn’t yet taken place. Anything can happen. Either candidate can win. Most people who will vote haven’t yet done so. These are simply five key signals I’m looking at for my own analysis.
- The Sky Didn’t Fall
While Trump supporters and opponents may disagree on this point, the fact is that many of the catastrophic predictions made four years ago by the supposedly best pundits, and political and economic experts, didn’t come true. The stock market didn’t crash upon Trump’s election. He didn’t ban Muslims. He didn’t put illegal immigrants on trains and send them back to Mexico. He didn’t start a nuclear war. In fact, a number of Trump’s policies and approaches largely worked as he promised. Some of those who didn’t support him in 2016 because they believed the dire forecasts have now come aboard the Trump train.
- Trump Now Has a Track Record
Unlike in 2016, Trump now has a performance record to judge him by. No longer the complete “wild card,” he did not, in general, say one thing and then do an entirely different thing. This includes cutting federal regulations, replacing NAFTA with a newly negotiated trade deal, leading the U.S. to energy independence, pulling the U.S. out of a global climate change agreement, crushing ISIS, leading employment to record lows, and selecting conservative judges as Supreme Court justices.
- The Media Disconnect
Trump has brought aboard some people who didn’t support him in 2016 because of narratives such as he is anti-Semitic, racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, a war monger, and a Russian agent. However, these voters have now seen Trump defy many narratives. For example, he moved the U.S. Embassy to the capital of Israel (without the bedlam long predicted by seasoned politicians), and he’s highly regarded by Israel’s leader. He made permanent funding commitments to historically black colleges. His first foreign trip as president was to Muslim-dominated Saudi Arabia. He hasn’t gotten America involved in new wars. And the persistent claim that Trump and his team colluded with Russia dissolved with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. With these revelations, some voters came to believe that the media is putting out false information about Trump and unfairly trying to manipulate their opinion.
- Off-the-Charts Enthusiasm
There’s no comparison between the enthusiasm for Trump and that for his opponent, Joe Biden.
- More Experience as President
Trump now has more experience as president than he did four years ago, and that’s four more years than Biden has in the job. He has proven to be a fighter, resilient, energetic, and establishment-defying.
I’d be remiss not to raise a few important counterpoints that could tip the scales the other way.
Although enthusiasm for Biden is lackluster, the enthusiasm against Trump is as strong as, if not greater than, it was in 2016.
Lack of enthusiasm used to fairly easily transfer into fewer votes. But the unprecedented drive to make mail-in, early, and absentee voting easier than ever means that more voters who hate Trump — but might not stand in line to vote for Biden — could actually cast ballots this time.
Some people who hate Trump but didn’t bother to vote four years ago because they never thought he’d win will turn out this time because they know it can happen again.
There is an element of Trump fatigue. Even if they don’t blame him for it, some voters are tired of the constant turmoil that surrounds any initiative he undertakes or any decision he makes.
And lastly, at last check, Biden far outpaced Trump in terms of money raised. A lot of that money is used to saturate key markets with negative advertising. Hillary Clinton out-raised Trump by a 2-1 margin in 2016 and lost, but money is a factor.
In the end, all things considered, this political outsider is predicting another four years for Trump and that — thanks to factors such as the protests, rioting and chaos in some cities — he’ll rake in a larger popular vote than he did before.
Then again, a political outsider like me couldn’t possibly be so wildly off of the prevailing wisdom — and be correct — twice in a row. Right?