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Why President Trump's 2020 Chances Might Be Stronger Than You Think

Updated on June 15, 2019

Set to be held in November 2020, the 59th presidential election in American history may seem like a remote event, but in fact, it’s already underway. As many as 2 dozen individuals on the Democratic side including big names like Former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have declared themselves candidates for the highest office in the land, and those individuals are already taking on each other, trying to gain or retain dominance in the expanding arena. Take the recent criticism made by Sanders on Biden for claiming to be “the most progressive candidate in the race" for example. Meanwhile, the candidates have already taken their animosity towards the incumbent administration to a whole new level. The Trump bashing may be a banality that we see coming from them without cessation, but if you look at it carefully, you can see easily that it’s dramatically intensified. Not to mention the fact that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg not so long ago started to throw attacks, which by the way aren’t true at all, at Vice President Mike Pence, a fellow Indianan with whom Buttigieg actually had some kind of rapport during his tenure as governor of the Hoosier state, labeling him as an anachronistic, radical homophobe (which he clearly isn’t). Moreover, Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld, Gary Johnson’s running mate on the Libertarian party ticket in 2016, has launched his presidential campaign in the Republican primary field, fueling the prospective competitiveness (and likely bitterness) of the election. Without doubt, a lot of people want to challenge President Donald Trump and they surely aim to defenestrate him. But can they do that? Can any one of them actually depose the sitting president and get to be sworn in on Capitol Hill as the United States’ 46th president on January 20th, 2020 to supplant him? The answer, according to his opponents, a number political analysts and the media in general, is probably yes, which is kind of understandable. The 2018 midterms, while featuring a Republican majority expansion in the Senate, saw the Democrats win over the suburban electorate, which used to vote Republican, and cruise to victory in crucial battleground states in the Midwest, for instance, dethroning the Republican incumbent in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election and picking up the open governor seat in Michigan from the GOP, besides claiming several pickups of House seats. Numbers from various polls that pitched him against most major Democratic candidates don’t look so friendly for him. Plus, his opposition has rarely, if ever, been this frenzied before. It seems like they’re all more mobilized, ready and determined to defeat him than any time since 2016. All that sounds adumbrative of President Trump’s getting one-termed or at least indicative of a Herculean fight for him, right? Maybe. But, that’s not the entire story. There are still a range of things to be taken into account left out there that are going to facilitate his re-election performance, like as not. Oh, and don’t forget, polls aren’t always accurate. Remember 2016?

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump delivering his victory speech after he was declared victorious in the 2016 presidential election he was predicted to lose.
Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump delivering his victory speech after he was declared victorious in the 2016 presidential election he was predicted to lose.

Back in 2016, Trump won the presidency running on a pledge largely to fight for hard-working Americans and put America first at the same time as to drain the swamp and pummel the establishment. The 3 pillars of his campaign that remained unvaried overall from the GOP primaries to the general election arguably were economic policy, foreign policy and immigration policy. He promised to bring about a tax reform and a tax cut and repeal excessive, job-killing regulations as part of a strategy to stimulate the lackluster economy under President Obama, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and have the United States withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords he deemed unjust for the country and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to which he attributed job losses. He also said he'd either renegotiate or terminate America’s membership of NAFTA, to crack down on China’s unfair trade practices, to significantly strengthen the military by boosting its budget to annihilate ISIS, to scuttle the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and, perhaps the most memorable of all, to build a border wall between the US and Mexico to deter illegal immigration. So, has he been true to his promises? Well, mostly yes. One of the very first actions of his administration was to pull the country out of the TPP. Roughly 4 months afterwards, the US was out of the Paris agreement and in December 2017, the president signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first tax reform legislation since 1986 which both reduced Americans’ tax burden and repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate. In the meantime, he’s been vigorously slashing excessive regulations and giving the military budget increases to combat the radical Islam in the Middle East and the growing threats posed by other nations. In 2018 fiscal year, the Department of Defense received a total budget of $662.6 billion, up from the $602.5 billion in 2017. As for 2019 fiscal year, the figure’s estimated to be $726 billion and for 2020 fiscal year, the Trump administration’s proposed a budget of $750 billion for the DoD. That’s almost a 25-percent increase overall. What's more, the administration's been engaged in placing tariffs on various imports, a great deal of which are from China. Most recently, the president announced a tariffs increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10% to 25% on May 10th, seeking to further pressurize China to stop its trade misconducts that include intellectual property theft and currency manipulation. Indeed, it can be said he’s been tougher on China than any other US president before. After all, the tariffs he’s placed on imports from it, which have unfortunately but inevitably elicited retaliatory measures from Beijing, really are unprecedented and have culminated in a so-called “trade war”. While that trade war apparently persists and its future has appeared hitherto somewhat amorphous, the future of one thing seems to be clear. In late 2018, the president negotiated a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that'd come to substitute NAFTA. The agreement, claimed by him to be fairer and better than its predecessor, was signed by leaders of the 3 countries on November 30 and is set to be ratified and effectivized sometime soon. The president's also delivered on his promise to do away with the Iran deal. On May 8th, 2018, at 2:00 EST, a few days after Israeli intelligence unveiled classified documents they obtained from Iran in a covert operation "conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons", he announced the United States' withdrawal from the JCPA intended to suffocate the Iranian economy through a cascade of reimposed sanctions. Moving from foreign policy to immigration policy, the administration's focus has been unvaryingly on securing the Southern border to thwart illegal immigration and reforming legal immigration system to render it a merit-based one. From his fight for wherewithals to build a Southern border barrier and struggle to terminate the Obama-created DACA program that have culminated in 2 government shutdowns in 2018 to his eventual exertion of executive power through an emergency declaration engineered to allocate fundings for the barrier which sparked numerous legal controversies, it can't ever be denied that President Trump's invested a lot of efforts in fulfilling his immigration policy promises. And it can't ever be denied either that he's kept most of his key campaign promises. That's why, in a recent poll, the majority of Americans say they think he's stayed true to his pledges.

President Trump declaring national emergency in February in a bid to fund the construction of the Southern border wall.
President Trump declaring national emergency in February in a bid to fund the construction of the Southern border wall.
The president signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law in December 2017.
The president signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law in December 2017.

And how does his "staying true to his pledges" play out? So far so good. The president's economic policy—tax cuts and regulation rollbacks—has spelt positive impacts on the economy. A significant number of jobs have been created. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the administration had created 4.9 million jobs in total as of February 2019, 436,000 of which were manufacturing jobs. That's an impressive number. What's even more impressive is that in April, the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, the lowest level since December 1969 when the rate was 3.5%. Unemployment rate for certain groups—women, ethnic minorities, and the youth—also have fallen to record-low levels. Meanwhile, workers across the country are taking home bigger paychecks as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which incidentally also have slashed down utility bills for many households. In total, wages have gone up 2.4% since President Trump's inauguration which beats the inflation rate. GDP growth rate's also seen a rise, as has Americans' optimism about the economy. In the first quarter of this year, America's gross domestic product grew at a sound 3.2%, surpassing expectations whereas today, the people's "present situation sentiment" stands at 175.2, the highest level since December 2000, and consumer confidence does at 134.1, an impressive improvement from a 100-ish in the waning months of 2016 when Trump was elected. Now contrast that to the gloom and doom predictions his opponents made of what the Trump economy would look like. That's why 62% of Americans according a recent Harvard CAPS/Harris poll approve of his handling of employment and 59% do of his handling of the economy. At the same time, he's presided over the downfall of ISIS, a corollary of his administration's military budget increases. Since he took office, American forces have led a successful campaign to bring the Caliphate to demise, piecemeal reclaiming the lands it'd previously occupied in Iraq and Syria and in March of this year, its last stronghold was overrun, marking the end of the terrorist group although there remain radical Islamic militants in the region constituting an existential threat. But that's barely the end of the story of the president's accomplishments. In June 2018, he did what the world never anticipated and what was absolutely unprecedented; he met with North Korean premier Kim Jong Un in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament of the Korean peninsula. In February 2019, the 2 met again in Vietnam, but in the end the meeting came to an abrupt conclusion as the president spurned Kim's ridiculously excessive demands and walked away from the table. Regardless of that, the he's still got a lot more to claim credit for. In May last year, he signed into law the Right to Try Act which endorsed the right of terminally ill patients to try experimental treatments. 7 months later, he approved the First Step Act, a legislation he'd long championed and a diametrically opposite counterpart of Bill Clinton's 1994 crime bill, which significantly revamped the United States' criminal justice system. And 2 months afterwards, he launched the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, a program tailored to promote economic empowerment of women globally. In addition, he's also very strongly committed to combating the snowballing opioid epidemic that's been pretty much omitted under the previous administration. That's very obvious if you consider the White House's copious essays in doing so that include the creation of commissions and initiatives devoted to vanquishing the crisis, his signing of a sweeping statute, the SUPPORT For Patients and Communities Act, whose primary functions were to distribute resources to apposite agencies, both federal and state, and his declaration of a public health emergency. The Be Best initiative spearheaded by First Lady Melania Trump also plays a role as it's undertaken to battle the crisis, particularly among youth. Today, opioid prescription has decreased and the rate by which fentanyl-related overdose deaths increase has slowed down. Without doubt, there's still more. But all these would already do a lot to the president's favor in 2020. At least they've boosted his approval rating to the highest point in 2 years at 48%. If you aren't convinced yet that the odds are currently on Trump's side, just look at the decline in unemployment rate to record-low levels in crucial battleground states like Wisconsin and Michigan where the economy is a critical issue. That decline's contributed to the improvement of his poll performance in those states, which further augments his chances at winning.

President Trump showing a map of ISIS territory that's been greatly diminished under his presidency while speaking to correspondents at the South Lawn in March, declaring victory against the Caliphate.
President Trump showing a map of ISIS territory that's been greatly diminished under his presidency while speaking to correspondents at the South Lawn in March, declaring victory against the Caliphate.
President Trump signing into law the First Step Act in December 2018.
President Trump signing into law the First Step Act in December 2018.

Apart from the realization of many of his chief campaign promises and the successes his administration's seen, President Trump also has an edge in terms of political environment. While his popularity within the Republican party is formidably solid, as the 90% figure from Gallup poll in February depicts (his numbers afterwards have been stable thus far), which would be more than enough for him to fend off any primary challenger, the Democratic party has been practically divided. The schism within the party between the moderate wing and the progressive wing has been so stark that the party seemingly would hurt terribly as a result of it. Should a moderate be nominated, he or she would risk losing support from progressives, but should a progressive be nominated, he or she would risk losing support from the moderate electorate. Since the 2 groups are now quite evenly divided, no matter who becomes the nominee, the party would end up in an atrociously precarious position. What happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016 when a number of progressive Democrats refused to support her after she prevailed over Bernie Sanders and clinched the Democratic nomination is doomed to return in 2020, but conceivably in a much worse iteration because the division's gotten noticeably deeper. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, President Trump wouldn't even have to struggle to secure the nomination for a second term, thanks to the overwhelming support from his base and his firm stance within the party. The 2020 Republican primary will be merely a downhill battle for him or no battle at all. That enables him to reserve most of his energy and treasury and expend them solely in the general election against a Democratic opponent. No equivalent scenario exists for the 2020 Democrats. With a field crammed with 24 candidates, many of whom have strong standings, they will inevitably be confronted with predictably the most contentious and rancorous presidential primary history, which surely is going to require oodles of campaign money. The eventual nominee of the party will have to diminish or maybe even deplete their war chest wading through the primaries and caucuses, and then he or she will have to make an extra effort, potentially a strenuous one, to replenish it to go into contest against Trump. That's one of their biggest disadvantages, and it looks much worse if you compare the funds they've raised at this point with what the Trump campaign, which started long ago with the president holding rallies virtually non-stop and donation money streaming in continuously and spectacularly, has earned in total. In the first quarter of this year alone, the campaign raised as much as $30.3 million, which was much more than the $18 million Bernie Sanders' campaign, the campaign that at that time topped every other campaign in fundraising, had procured. Actually it was roughly tantamount to what Sanders and second-place Kamala Harris earned combined (the Harris campaign's number was $12 million). The Trump campaign also has a reserve in the bank which puts his treasury total at a comfortable $40.8 million or so. That's by far an absolutely unprecedented figure; at the same point in their presidencies, Barack Obama and George W. Bush who were both 2-term presidents had only less than $2 million and approximately $260,000 in their treasuries respectively. Besides, the Republican National Committee obtained $45.8 million on its own in the first 3 months of this year. Since the committee's pledged it's fidelity to securing Trump a second term, the effort to re-elect him has $82 million available, a ginormous amount of money—especially for a time this early in the election—that not a single campaign on the Democratic side has come close to. The effort to elect Sanders which, according to the most recent report, has the most money (Joe Biden is probably close by now or maybe has even surpassed it, though) has only about $28 million in total. And remember, that has to be spent heavily on attempting to win the primaries too. Worse, the Democratic National Committee's also got a financial trouble, being buried in debt amassed during past election cycles and having raised substantially less money than the RNC has. In March, the DNC was able to collect only $8.1 million, compared to the GOP's $15.5 million.

From above: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, the 4 top candidates in the extensive Democratic arena who have all moved far to the left as have most other candidates.
From above: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, the 4 top candidates in the extensive Democratic arena who have all moved far to the left as have most other candidates.

Nonetheless the Democrats' problem extends beyond just that. Not only do they all have a pecuniary underperformance issue, but most of them also seem to have moved too far to the left of the political spectrum. Candidates after candidates eyeing the Democratic nomination have come out to herald their advocacy for late-term abortion, stringent gun bans and progressive economic policy that could be liken, in a way, to socialism. Unluckily many voters aren't fond of those things. For example, on abortion, while the divide between pro-lifers and pro-choicers isn't so lopsided, the vast majority of Americans—87% in one Gallup poll—are not in favor of abortion in the third trimester. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll conducted by the end of May also found 54% of Americans opposed to the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe V. Wade (some of them want it modified and some want it overturned altogether). And on the economy, a Monmouth University survey from April reported 57% of Americans weren't supportive of socialism while a recent Gallup poll showed 62% of Americans approving of free enterprise to socialism. That same poll also showed 53% of Americans unwilling to vote for a socialist candidate.

Donald Trump taking the oath of office of the president of the United States in January 2020.
Donald Trump taking the oath of office of the president of the United States in January 2020.

To sum up, the Trump campaign has a massive superiority to the Democrats by a number of conceivable measures. The US economy's prospering with American workers benefiting in the same breath, which strengthens Trump's standings among the people overall, especially in important swing states in the Midwest where the economy's a principal concern. He's delivered on his key campaign promises and gotten an array of favorable results, which allows him to enjoy a strong stance within his party and solid support from his unified base. He's also raised a tremendous amount of campaign cash that not only outguns his opponents but also was never seen before. Meanwhile, the Democratic party is graphicly divided and lagging far behind financially. The candidates contesting for its nomination also have moved a lot to one point of the left where their ideas on issues no longer resonate with the electorate. If you take all of that into account, you should realize President Trump's chance at winning in 2020 is strong, and indeed, as an incumbent, he'd likely win and become the fourth president in a row to be re-elected.

© 2019 Pendhamma Sindhusen

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