Don’t be too sure
By Dr. Larry Fedewa
(November 11, 2019) The general opinion among Trump supporters – and many Democrats — is that a sitting president who oversees a thriving economy is very difficult to beat in an election for his second term. There is plenty of precedent for this prediction. Only two presidents since WWII have been defeated for a second term – Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush. Carter faced a serious recession and Bush shared the vote with third party candidate, Ross Perot. So, history is definitely on the side of this opinion. Many Trump supporters believe that his re-election is virtually assured. This is a potentially dangerous presumption.
There are three unique factors which pose challenges to the President. The first is the “anybody but Trump” cabal. The Democrats are apparently convinced that this element is important enough that they are banking their entire strategy on it (See my column, “The Dems huge gamble” at www.DrLarryOnline.com).
This belief is based on some evidence, although it is highly uncertain whether this distrust is universal enough the throw the election to any of the current candidates for the Democrat nomination.
Of course, there is a new face on the horizon, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While he has the financial means to pay for his own campaign, he starts off with several handicaps. First, he is not widely known as a politician outside New York. While he owns a television network which bears his name, unlike Donald Trump, he has not often appeared as a television personality. More likely, his reputation as “The nanny Mayor” will be hard to sell to the young and independent voters who are a major group of swing voters. Finally, at nearly 78 years of age, he joins a geriatric roster of current candidates (Biden and Warren, not to mention Trump himself). It is not clear that there is room for one more.
As to the origin and strength of the “Never Trump” bloc: it appears to be composed of several types of voters, with differing levels of intensity. The first and most persistent of the Trump haters are the “establishment”, consisting of:
- the press, who have very effectively created the mythological stereotype of Donald Trump as a racist, white power advocate, dictator, and homophobe among other unsavory attributes;
- the political class of both parties who for both ideological and mercenary motives reject every aspect of the Trump agenda, especially “Drain the swamp!”
- the bureaucracy, which is another part of “the swamp” who are losing their power in various ways, including the intelligence community which has lost control of foreign affairs, the military which is losing its wars, and the civilian agencies which are facing monumental deregulation;
Another group has bought into the malicious profile of Trump as a menace to minority Americans especially Blacks and Hispanics, although his record in office has begun to penetrate both contingents.
Finally, there are those who are simply put off by Trump’s language and personality. This group was thought to include many women, although this bias has also been penetrated in many cases by his record in office. For those who lean Left to begin with, Trump’s personality and style justify their bias. The recent sweep of both houses of the Virginia legislature has been widely interpreted as due to the rejection of Trump by suburbia. That may have been the women vote, but there were other factors as well, including the massive gifts to the Democrats by George Soros and Michael Bloomberg.
Nevertheless, Donald Trump must take these groups seriously. The most direct way to overcome these obstacles seems to be Trump’s undoubted ability as a retail politician. Two of his major assets are his record and his charismatic stump appeal. For his supporters, his ability to draw and entertain his huge audiences during his rallies is most remarkable. The only politician who came even close to the Trump rallies might be Bobby Kennedy in the last days of his 1968 campaign. But even that competition pales in comparison to Trump’s ability to repeat the performance again and again. It is important for his campaign to have in addition a vigorous ground game and media presence to influence the voters who are not at the rallies.
In addition, Trump has perhaps the chance of a lifetime to woo away from the Democrats the minority blocs of Black and Hispanic voters. Both communities have large contingents of family-loving, churchgoing, patriotic, military active duty and veterans, and a rising number of entrepreneurs. During the 2016 Republican convention, former Republican Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez summed up this thought when she said to her husband as they walked out of a recruitment meeting years ago, “Damn! I guess we are Republicans!” And a very successful ones at that!
To his credit, President Trump has started reaching out to both communities, as shown for example by his visit to a Black assembly in Atlanta, Georgia last week.
On my radio program, I asked longtime Republican Congressman Bob Livingston,
“How did you get 90% of the African American vote during your campaigns in Louisiana?’
“Simple,” he said.” You have to talk to them and listen to them. And remember the words of another Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, ‘People don’t care about what you know until they know how much you care.’ “
Good advice for all Republicans.
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