It was quite disturbing to hear Dr. Jason Johnson, professor, politics editor at TheRoot.com, and MSNBC contributor, say at a recent panel discussion at Temple Emanuel of Great Neck that “mathematically speaking, more likely than not, Trump will be re-elected.”
Others have predicted Trump would win re-election, even by a landslide, despite having an approval rate in the low 40s, and just 56 percent of a shrinking Republican Party (perhaps 33 percent of voters altogether, which means 20 percent of voters) saying they will vote for him.
It is as if they expect a redux of 2016. But is that repeatable? Despite the extraordinary headwinds against Hillary Clinton, she still won three million more popular votes than Donald Trump, with Trump squeaking by with an Electoral College win of 80,000 votes spread among three states — the same number of votes cast for Jill Stein.
What else was in Trump’s favor? The Comey letter, Fox News and the Russian misinformation campaign that actually also bolstered Bernie Sanders, who had a latent effect on the vote by so inspiring his voters that a good number stayed home rather than vote for Hillary.
Among other factors were Cambridge Analytica and the Trump social media war machine (Brad Parscale, who headed the social media campaign, boasted about suppressing votes by blacks, women and liberals and is now the Trump 2020 campaign manager); and voter suppression (200,000 fewer voters on the rolls in Wisconsin) on top of 25 years of right-wing smear campaigns.
Also, a complicit media elevated Trump and presented his gross indignities as mere titillating antics (“Access Hollywood”) while denigrating Clinton to an email meme.
But Trump is no longer a hypothetical. His promises that he would be independent of special interests because “I am very, very rich” were bogus. His promise to have a plan on day one to replace Obamacare with better, cheaper health care, demonstrably bogus. His promise to end terrorism by sheer virtue of his Me-ness, false. His promise that he alone would heal partisan divisions, bring people together, a cruel lie. In fact, the many Trump voters who say “he speaks the truth” clearly set aside the fact he has lied over 9,000 times so far, at the rate of 22 a day (his record was 104 lies in one speech).
Trump has managed to defy every political norm (not to mention every norm of the presidency and decency). They say a candidate has to provide an optimistic vision. Trump only spoke in dystopian terms, but it turns out that is his vision for America. Every photo of him is glowering, glaring, full of anger, resentment. “I can be presidential” he declared on the podium, making stiff, robotic movements to show what he thought an actual president would look like.
But now there is a record: caging children and separating families, incarcerating people making a legal claim of asylum in such horrid conditions that two children died, putting 11 million people and their families in constant fear and anxiety of being ripped from their families and deported, an immigration problem made worse through sheer evil and ineptitude.
Undermining the USA’s global leadership, weakening alliances and basically handing Russian President Putin his wish list to the extent that the Russian military can go into Venezuela and Trump, the paper tyrant wannabe, doesn’t have the ability to do anything about it.
Do you not believe that Trump has already been revealed as the most inept, corrupt, craven, cruel, self-serving and possibly demented individual ever to hold the highest office in the land and to take upon himself the mantle of “Leader of the Free World?” The sheer terror he has inflicted on this country over North Korea and a renewed nuclear arms race with Russia, which he is now extending into space, wouldn’t this be enough to topple him in 2020?
On the other hand, Trump has several factors in his favor. There is no reason to think Putin won’t be back and Trump has his own propaganda organization (Brad Parscale), which has the Cambridge Analytica data and the methods the Russians used to weaponize social media, Fox News and Murdoch. Republican control of the voting apparatus in enough states could enable him to squeak by again in the Electoral College. With Trump installing his loyalists in the apparatus that controls the elections, who would protect the tallies against hacking? Trump is banking on a repeat of 2016, so even if he loses by three million popular votes, he could still again take the Electoral College. And one can never underestimate the ability of Democrats to snatch defeat from victory.
But one element might stand in the way of a Trump victory. If enough states join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, it would make the Electoral College more responsive to the people’s will without having to amend the Constitution. So far 15 states, including New York, have joined, with 189 electoral votes among them. When enough states join with a total of 270 electoral votes, it would be enforced.