Trump’s Prospects

Trump’s Prospects December 13, 2018

After what pundits described as his worst week ever, President Trump’s popularity has gone up.  According to the Rasmussen daily presidential tracking poll for December 11, the percentage of voters who approve of President Trump’s job performance is 49%.  The percentage that disapproves of his job performance is also 49%.  (OK, a new Fox News poll has him at 46%, with 52% disapproving.)

The Mueller investigation should soon be over.  Supporters of the president who say that the probe has uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing and opponents who are convinced that the final report will bring the president down are both speculating.  No one really knows what Mueller has or does not have on the president.

A comment in a sentencing memo for the president’s attorney Michael Cohen said that he conspired with “Individual 1”–which, by the context, has to be he president–to violate campaign finance laws when he paid off a porn star to keep quiet about their affairs with Trump.  That would implicate the president in a felony, making some critics hail the finding as a “smoking gun” that could lead to Trump’s impeachment.

The $130,000 Cohen paid her is being construed as a campaign contribution, since it was designed to help Trump in his campaign.  The money was not reported as such, and it was over the allowed limit for individual contributions.  But Trump reimbursed Cohen.  Candidates don’t reimburse donations.  Unless I’m missing something, I don’t see how the sordid business violates campaign finance laws.

Nevertheless, I suspect the new Democratic Congress will use that as a pretext for passing an impeachment resolution, unless the Mueller report gives them something stronger.  House representatives probably won’t want to vote for impeachment–knowing by the Clinton precedent that this might actually increase the president’s popularity–but their stirred up resistance base will force them to.  But the Senate holds the trial, and there is no way the Republican Senate will remove Trump from office, short of discovering that the president is a Russian agent, and even then I suspect they wouldn’t remove him.  (“There is no law against Russian agents running for president.”)

But Trump does have political problems.  He won the last election by winning blue collar industrial Rust Belt states–Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania–but the midterm elections showed those states reverting to their normal Democratic status quo.

Rich Lowry says that if Democrats nominate a traditional Democratic candidate–pro-union, friend of the working class credentials, New Deal-Roosevelt type liberal–someone like Joe Biden, those states will vote their way.  Trump would not be re-elected.

And yet, a traditional Establishment candidate will be hard-pressed to win the nomination, given the increased radicalization of the Democratic base.

If the Democrats nominate a socialist or someone who takes hard left positions, such as eliminating Immigration and Customs  Enforcement, Trump wins.  The American public isn’t ready for that.

Furthermore, the Democratic base is going all out for identity politics.  They will want a woman.  Preferably a woman “of color.”  Contrary to left wing slanders, America’s white blue collar voters will accept someone who is a racial minority.  They voted for Barack Obama.  Twice.  But anyone who comes across as an extreme feminist will likely, as Hillary Clinton did, lose to Trump.

Democrats in their rage could also turn to a Trump-like candidate of their own, an angry outsider with little governing experience but a popular following, only from the left.  If they do that, Trump wins.

The Democrats may find themselves in the dilemma that Republicans have been in.  Anyone who could win the primaries can’t win the national election.  And anyone who could win the national election can’t win the primaries.

They may find a candidate who can transcend these categories.  Beto O’Rourke, for example, has a John F. Kennedy vibe that traditional blue collar Democrats would like.  Plus he is something of an outsider.  And he pushes progressive buttons.  He might have a good chance against Trump.

Otherwise, if the economy holds up–which is a big “if”!–Trump will probably get re-elected.

What do you think of my analysis?  Feel free to offer your analysis in the comments.

 

Photo by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

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