You’d have to be a fool to make predictions about a presidential election that is still two years off. So here goes.
If Donald Trump doesn’t do something about his toxic personality, even a Democrat playing deep left field will have a good chance of defeating him.
Voter turnout was big in the midterm election but it’ll be even bigger when the White House is up for grabs – which means there’ll be more millennials voting and more minorities. And that means more votes for the Democrat whoever he or she is.
The only people who wholeheartedly embrace the president’s divisive rhetoric are members of his hard-core base. These are the ones who wouldn’t abandon him even if he really did shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue in New York. Despite their passion, they’re a small group, maybe 30 percent of the electorate. He needs to expand his base but so far has shown no interest in doing that. He seems content preaching to a choir that sings his praises. That may make him feel good but it’s bad politics.
You can’t win a presidential election unless just about everyone in your party votes for you. But a lot of moderate Republicans -- especially college educated women in the suburbs – won’t go near this president. What the hard-core base loves about Donald Trump, they detest.
But how, you may be wondering, could Donald Trump lose to an Elizabeth Warren or a Kamala Harris or a Kirsten Gillibrand or a Corey Booker? Don’t forget that he barely beat Hillary Clinton with all her faults and that was only because of the Electoral College. She got more votes than he did. About 3 million more votes.
Speaking of Hillary …
Two Democrats had a piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day that ran under the headline, “Hillary Will Run Again.” It was by Mark Penn, a pollster and senior advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton and Andrew Stein, a former president of the New York City Council.
Mrs. Clinton has a 75 percent approval rating among Democrats and if she runs next time it’ll be as a “progressive firebrand,” in the words of Penn and Stein. “Claims of a Russian conspiracy and the unfairness of the Electoral College shielded Mrs. Clinton from ever truly conceding she had lost,” they write. “She was robbed, she told herself, yet again. But after two years of brooding – including at book length – Mrs. Clinton has come unbound. She will not allow this humiliating loss at the hands of an amateur to end the story of her career. You can expect her to run for president once again. Maybe not at first, when the legions of senate Democrats make their announcements, but definitely by the time the primaries are in full swing.”
The Always Trumpers may laugh at such an analysis, but they’re so in love with their messiah than they can’t see straight on these things. Many of them were convinced the only wave we’d see in the midterms was a red one. They confuse wishful thinking with reality – just as liberals both in and out of the media confused their wishful thinking with the reality of a Trump victory in 2016.
But there’s hope for the president if he decides to run for reelection – (and, for what it’s worth, I’m not at all convinced he will). But that hope is based on a new and improved Donald Trump; a Donald Trump 2.0 – a more genial, more civil, more empathetic, more decent, more humane, less confrontational, less narcissistic, less mean-spirited Donald Trump.
I know. No way.
Which brings us back to Hillary. “Just as Mr. Trump cleared the field,” Penn and Stein write, “Mrs. Clinton will take down rising Democratic stars like bowling pins. Mike Bloomberg will support her rather than run, and Joe Biden will never be able to take her on.”
Donald Trump can learn something valuable from the 2018 midterms – if he’s capable of getting beyond what a “tremendous success” it was for Republicans. He can learn that likability matters in politics just as it does in life in general.
I suspect he’s not capable of getting beyond his delusions about what a great victory the midterms were for the Republican Party -- thanks to him. And if I’m right, if the 2020 Donald Trump is the same as the old Donald Trump, then he stands a very good chance of losing to Hillary or any other left-winger the Democrats put up.