Pres. Trump’s term in the White House ends on January 20, 2021. But for his critics, don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. He could hold office for another four years, if he wins the 2020 election.
Trump will run for reelection.
On the day of his inauguration in January 20, Trump filed the paperwork for his reelection campaign in the 2020 poll, something no president has ever done before. But he hasn’t as yet publicly announced his future presidential bid. A typical Trump move, but well thought out. His crafty maneuver will allow him to legally hold rallies using private funds.
Using his campaign committee to fund his rallies gives them more leeway to choose attendees. Supporters are in, protesters out. He can attack his enemies to his heart’s content. He can sell campaign merchandise and patronize his own businesses for the rallies. In Washington, DC, for example, the event was held at Trump International Hotel. He can solicit campaign contributions, such as the fund-raiser in DC that cost $35,000 a plate. More importantly, he can build a database of his supporters and get valuable information from it.
In a White House-funded rally, all these actions would be questioned by the Federal Elections Commission. Attendance will be open to all, regardless of political leanings. Speech will be restricted and funds will be subject to strict audit.
Going into his eighth month as president, Trump has had nine campaign rallies and numerous affiliated ones in more than 50 cities. What he has done may be considered tacky, but they are not illegal.
What chance does he have of winning?
Yes, a fat chance if the so-called “default effect” kicks in. This behavioral tendency, choosing the easiest option, or the choice that is most suggested, worked too well for Franklin D. Roosevelt that he served for four terms and caused a change in the US Constitution, an amendment limiting a president to hold office for only two terms. Of the 11 presidents that followed FDR, eight were reelected. Trump’s frequent rallies serve to embed his name in the people’s minds so that when November 2020 comes around, the default effect activates and they will go to the polls and write his name even with eyes closed.
Then there is the incumbency advantage. While being the incumbent does not guarantee an absolute win, it does raise the likelihood of winning. Other factors in this advantage come into play, like the candidate’s approval rating prior to Election Day, the perceived strength or weakness of the contender, the strategies employed by each party, etc. There is no set percentage for an incumbent’s advantage. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supported Clinton in 2016, says Trump has a 55 percent chance of winning reelection.
But a crucial factor in securing Trump’s 2016 victory may be gone in the next balloting. That is the lethargic voters, numbering around 115 million, who stayed away from the polls. Organizations monitoring voter turnout found that these non-votes came largely from the Democratic base. In three states that had not voted for a Republican president since the 1984 and 1988 elections, Trump won. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin could have given Clinton its 46 electoral votes and ushered her into the White House.
Other swing states where Trump won include Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina. Of the 11 battleground states, Clinton won in only four – Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia. In many areas across the country, voter turnout saw an upsurge in rural areas and a dip in the bigger cities, leading to significant consequences for Clinton.
The voter turnout rate for the voting-eligible population was only 59.0 percent. While this is the norm in an election where neither candidate is an incumbent, a bigger Democrat-affiliated participation in 2020 could overturn a Trump reelection.
Another possible and anticipated scenario that could lose the 2020 election for Trump is the outcome of the investigation on Russian interference that made him win the 2016 presidential poll. There’s the Trump dossier that an ex-MI6 spy compiled revealing that the Russian government had been supporting the president for years, and had sufficient material to blackmail him. There’s also the ongoing investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. It is looking into the hacks and leaks on Clinton’s emails, the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin, and other activities of Trump’s inner circle that may be of a criminal nature. In a worst case scenario, Trump may not even finish his first term.
Who are Trump’s possible contenders?
Moving forward to 2020, who are Trump’s potential opponents? It’s too early in the game to predict but the New York Times hinted at a possible Pence candidacy, which the Vice President vehemently denied. Other GOP challengers that CNN wrote about are Senators Ted Cruz (Texas,) Jeff Flake (Arizona,) Ben Sasse (Nebraska,) Governors John Kasich (Ohio,) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin.) One thing they have in common is, they all disagree with the way Trump is doing his job, or they dislike him even before he became president.
The Democrats do not have a high-profile candidate to field, someone in the leagues of Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama is prohibited by the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution and while Bernie Sanders would be a worthy contender, he will be nearing 80 by that time. The names of Senators Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kamala Harris (CA) have come up. So have Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and talk show host Stephen Colbert.
It’s still three years away from the November 2020 election but it’s never too early for politicians to prepare for it. Although Trump is on the road with his campaign, he will have to be nominated first by the Republican Party.
Across the country, the voting population are eagerly waiting or anxiously dreading when the time comes, and the apathetic non-voters will have hopefully learned that in a balloting, omission can have more disastrous results than commission.