Can Donald Trump win the 2020 election? The odds and polls
Incumbent to officially launch his re-election campaign ahead of crowded Democratic primaries
Donald Trump will take to the stage at a rally in Florida tonight to formally launch the beginning of his 2020 re-election campaign.
Loyal “Trump supporters were already lining up for seats on Monday morning” for the 20,000-seater gig, reports USA Today - but the president faces a challenge more formidable than the one he undertook in 2016.
As CNN notes, Trump “must prove he can recast the political spell that defied pundits and probability and delivered one of the most shocking election wins in history” back in 2016. Yet he is hampered by “cresting crises overseas, endless scandals, personal feuds, the president's flattery of tyrants, impeachment talk and an impossible-to-ignore presidency that's barged into every American's life in a draining two-and-a-half years”, the broadcaster adds.
Indeed, Trump is announcing the commencement of his re-election bid from “one of the weakest positions of any incumbent president in modern times”, says The Guardian.
Tonight’s rally “looks to be setting records”, the president claimed in a tweet on Monday, adding: “We are building large movie screens outside to take care of everybody. Over 100,000 requests. Our Country is doing great, far beyond what the haters & losers thought possible – and it will only get better!”
But “beneath the surface self-congratulation, there is cause for panic in Trumpworld”, with Democrats seeking to oust him using an array of tactics, and a strained atmosphere in the White House, The Guardian claims.
Who could replace Trump?
The topsy-turvy first term of Trump has prompted a record number of rivals to come forward in an attempt to oust him.
A total of 23 Democratic candidates of diverse genders, races and political backgrounds are lining up to take on the incumbent, with the initial debates spread out over two nights to include all the contenders.
The Guardian reports that potential match-ups with Democratic rivals “show the president in trouble”, according to polls.
High-profile faces set to appear at the podium in the first debates next week include former Obama-era vice president Joe Biden, rabble-rousing social democrat Bernie Sanders, Senate Judiciary Committee members Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, eco-friendly Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Lesser-known candidates have also used the opportunity of running against Trump to sneak up on the old guard. This year’s dark horse in the polls is Pete Buttegieg, the liberal mayor of South Bend in Indiana, while tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and congressman Seth Moulton have also thrown their hats into the ring.
The crowded field also includes Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, anti-war activist Mike Gravel, California representative Eric Swalwell, eight-term congressman Tim Ryan, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, former corporate lawyer Kirsten Gillibrand, El Paso councilman Beto O'Rourke, geologist John Hickenlooper, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and former US secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro.
Discounting a Trump win, victory for the Democrats looks most likely to come from “a small advance guard” led by the final Democratic candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who “appear to be moving deliberately toward challenging President Trump”, says The New York Times.
This group includes former vice president Biden, who “wielding a political network cultivated over decades, has been reasserting himself as a party leader”, adds the paper.
Senators Booker and Harris have also emerged as fresher-faced alternatives.
The Democrat presidential primaries are “almost certainly going to break down along similar lines as the 2016 primary, with a left faction and a centrist faction - only with many more candidates”, says The Week US’s Ryan Cooper.
On the left, Bernie Sanders “is by far the most credible candidate and the probable front runner, with a mile-long record of consistent principles. Elizabeth Warren doesn't have quite as good a record, but she is better on details, a bit younger, and a woman,” says Cooper.
As a group, they are “a strikingly heterogeneous array of rivals for Trump, embodying the Democratic Party’s options for defining itself”, notes The New York Times. They are distinguished by “gender and race, span three decades in age and traverse the ideological and tonal spectrum between combative Democratic socialism and consensus-minded incrementalism”, adds the paper.
What about the Republicans?
After much speculation over whether outgoing Republican Senator Jeff Flake - who has often been a thorn in Trump’s side - would challenge the incumbent in the 2020 Republican primary, Flake eventually decided against running.
But just as Trump looked set to run unopposed, former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld surprised his party in April by officially announcing his candidacy for the presidency.
Weld has flitted between the Republican and Libertarian parties over the course of several decades in politics, and was Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s running mate during the 2016 presidential election. He also served in the Justice Department under Ronald Reagan, the BBC reports.
He has now returned to the Republican party in a bid to wrestle the reins off Trump. Launching his bid, Weld said: “I really think if we have six more years of the same stuff we've had out of the White House the last two years that would be a political tragedy. So I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't raise my hand and run.”
However, the odds are against there being Republican president other than Trump in 2020. Only once before has a sitting president failed to be nominated for a second term, and that was Franklin Pierce way back in 1852.
But a Republican challenger may be good news for the Democrats, as “most of the time, presidents who fend off a primary challenge wind up losing the general election”, says CBS News.
What do the bookmakers and pollsters say?
According to a recent Quinnipiac University National Poll, potential match-ups with Democratic rivals show the president in serious trouble - lagging behind Joe Biden on 53% to 40%, Bernie Sanders on 51% to 42%, Kamala Harris on 49% to 41%, Elizabeth Warren on 49% to 42%, Pete Buttigieg on 47% to 42% and Cory Booker on 47% to 42%.
The Guardian says a leak of internal polling from Trump’s re-election campaign also showed him trailing Biden in several battleground states.
Pollster John Zogby said: “At the moment, he is on the ropes. His job approval rating has settled down to 42% or 43%. He’s down in every one of those key battleground states – New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa.”
Betting website Oddschecker reports that Trump is still the favourite to win the election at this point, offering 11/10 odds on the incumbent to win a second term, with Biden on 5/1, Warren on 12/1 and Sanders on 14/1.
But pollster aggregator FiveThiryEight notes that at around the same point in the 2016 cycle, “Clinton was ahead of all eight of her hypothetical GOP opponents” with a “whopping 50-32 advantage over Trump”, yet still lost the election.
The site asks: “Should we take these early general election polls seriously? $#!% no!”