“He’s unpopular, scandalous, and a bigot, and we may be sliding into a recession. But that might not matter.” – The Atlantic
The 2020 US presidential elections are getting nearer, and we thought it’s time we go full political on the matter. Why? You’ve probably heard the following quote by Benjamin Franklin: “When America sneezes, the world catches a cold.” What the phrase means, of course, is that as a global leader, other nations tend to follow America and its leadership fashion. Trump’s election in 2016 has been followed by a wave of similarly populist and nationalist elections around the world, including in Europe.
Some might argue that there are many reasons why President Trump could lose reelection in 2020. He is deeply hated by many as a result of his bigotry. His administration has been plagued by all manner of scandals like the dismissal of James Comey, the Russian Scandal or his public service and private gain. He has fulfilled and failed to live up to some of his grandiloquent promises according to Politifact.com.
After all, his approval ratings have continually been underwater since the second month of his presidency. But Trump’s persistent unpopularity is not nearly as big a bar to reelection as many assume. It’s striking, for example, that Trump’s approval ratings are, at this point, very similar to those of two recent presidents who went on to win reelection by resounding margins. While 41.3% approve of Trump’s job performance, back in the days, 43% approved of both Barack Obama in 2012 at the same stage in their first terms.
The probability of being elected for a second term seems to be in his favour. Why? Here are several reasons:
1, Reality TV
Between 1985 and 2012 he appeared in 13 films, 18 television shows, a music video for Ghostbusters II and a number of commercials in Pepsi, Oreos, Pizza Hut or VISA. There have been countless videos circulating online of him. His presence and brand dominates several markets, despite several of them becoming a failure.
Of course his most outstanding performance was in a reality TV show called the The Apprentice, which ran for 15 seasons between 2004 to 2015. The Apprentice was the breakout rookie hit of the 2003–04 U.S. television season and helped NBC at a time when the network’s two long-running successful comedies, Friends and Frasier, were ending their series’ runs. The Apprentice filled the void on Thursday nights lifting the name Trump ever higher till this very day.
2, Second Terms
Usually, candidates who get elected the first time are more likely to be elected a second term according to Forbes. There have been only two former presidents seeking reelection over the last 50 years, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush who failed in their bid for a second term. Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all won reelection. It has been proven that the most controversial presidents tend to roll up the biggest reelection victories. And Trump could be another proof of this.
3, Celebrity Status
According to The Inquirer, Trump is a celebrity politician. In relation to the first point, he was a skilled entertainer in his shows, a renowned businessman with a powerful family to back him up. He had little to no prior political experience. So why is this an advantage? He receives more slack to make mistakes but also receives more credibly when it comes to abusing his office. President Trump is evaluated differently to traditional politicians. His celebrity status before stepping into office got him a milestone further than his better competitors. And this milestone of fame will persist once again.
If you look at the candidates running for president in 2020, Trump’s fame due to his celebrity status makes him tower above the others. See how many candidates you will recognise?
4, American Economic Rise
Trump has presided over the strongest economy in the United States with a GDP of 21.3 Trillion dollars in early 2019 (Q1.) Unemployment is at record lows (3.7% in July 2019) inflation is nearly non-existent (1.8% in 2019) and new jobs are being created at a startling pace. Anyone who studies presidential politics knows that strong economies are the most important factor driving support for the incumbent. While growth may moderate between now and election day, some economists expect a recession soon.
5, Competing Candidates
An election is a choice rather than a referendum. It leads to incoherent assumptions to focus primarily on approval ratings. In 2016, Trump was elected despite being deeply disliked. And the simple reason for that was that some of his opponents were also deeply unpopular. President elects pointed fingers at each other and sought to uncover the dark histories of their opponents’ past. For Trump to lose his bid for reelection in 2020, voters don’t just need to dislike him; they need to dislike somebody else less.
This point is clearly debatable. But Trump has avoided involvement in new overseas adventures, and is pressing to scale back what is left of the operations he inherited from his predecessor. Critics complain he is too eager to get out of places like Afghanistan and Syria. However the record shows that voters have little patience for foreign military intervention. Unpopular wars are the one issue that can eclipse a good economy in the minds of voters. But apart from Trade Wars between US and China, Trump seems to be delivering both peace and prosperity according to one of the articles in Forbes.
7, Trump Supporters
The president managed to attract a huge number of followers as mentioned in the The Guardian. They mostly consist of blue-collar and lower-middle-class white voters who want to “build the wall” (nativism) and “drain the swamp” (populism). So far, they have not really gotten what they wanted. The swamp has barely been drained (rather expanded by corrupt Trump appointees.) Meanwhile the wall is still mostly a fence-in-building. Despite all this, the promises can persist. He can claim that he has done all he could to keep the wall on the political agenda. He can promise once again that he will push through a brutal anti-immigration agenda or that he was “sabotaged” by Congress. Hence, he needs a second term to break the last resistance so that he can make good on his promises.
These are of course a lot of assumptions based on prior experiences, statistics, debates and intuitive thoughts claiming his downfall. We cannot say for sure what will happen. But it will most definitely impact the rest of the world. We will find out after the 3rd of November 2020. Mark your calendars!
What do you think, is there a chance for the current President of the United States? Share your thoughts in the comments down below.
Founder of Times International