Democrats say it’s entirely possible that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE could be reelected in November, despite the shadow of impeachment cast over his presidency.
While Trump on Wednesday became just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, the Democrats say he is boosted by a robust economy and a strong base of support from voters in swing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan.
He’ll be the first president to be impeached and then run for reelection, assuming a likely acquittal in the Senate, and Democrats don’t see him as an easy opponent to defeat.
“Yes, he can win,” said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. “And presuming otherwise is a recipe for repeating the mistakes of 2016. This isn’t a national election. He is going to lose the popular vote by 2 to 3 million votes, but the battlegrounds are still competitive and he won the Electoral College.”
Putting a fine point on it, Kofinis said Trump could be reelected “because if you look at past elections, no incumbent president has lost an election with a growing economy and peacetime conditions.”
While Trump has a disapproval rating around 52 percent, Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said next year’s election “is Trump’s to lose.”
“Trump wins if the economy and his approval ratings are about the same a year from now as today, and turnout is typical. But if the economy stumbles, his popularity flags or Democrat turnout is big, the Democrats win,” he told Bloomberg News in an interview last month.
Fair’s model uses the nation’s gross domestic product to calculate shares of the two-party presidential vote. It currently projects the Democratic share as being only 45.9 percent as of October.
It should be noted that Fair’s model was off in 2016 by 7.1 percentage points. In a note, Fair wrote that while it is impossible to test why the model was so far off, it was probably due to Trump’s personality. While Trump still won the Electoral College, he concluded the GOP might have done much better with a more mainstream candidate.
Democrats are questioning whether they will have the right candidate to defeat Trump.
Some worry that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE is a weak front-runner. At the same time, they are nervous that Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) are too progressive to appeal to more moderate voters in swing states.
The lack of a dominant front-runner has caused more candidates to enter the race, including former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEngel scrambles to fend off primary challenge from left It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned MORE and Deval PatrickDeval PatrickIt’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Andrew Yang endorses Biden in 2020 race MORE, the former Massachusetts governor.
“I could be completely wrong, but I don’t see a candidate yet who can deliver,” one Democratic strategist said on the eve of the next Democratic debate, scheduled for Thursday night. “They all have their problems.”
A USA Today–Suffolk national poll released Tuesday found Trump ahead of Biden by three points, though the poll also gave voters the option of picking an unnamed third-party candidate.
The survey also showed the president leading Sanders by 5 points, Warren by 8 points and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D) by 10 points, also with a third-party candidate option.
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The Democratic strategist said Thursday night’s debate could give one of the party’s candidates a chance to stand out. But to date, no one has dominated the debates, leaving Democrats feeling even more unsettled about their choices — and their chances of winning next year.
Last weekend’s cold open on “Saturday Night Live” encapsulated the Democratic mood.
“Trump is definitely getting impeached and definitely getting reelected,” a father played by “SNL” cast member Keenan Thompson says while speaking to his kids around a dinner table on Christmas.
“If white people tell you ‘I might not vote for Trump this time,’ you know what that’s called? A lie. Nobody was going to vote for Trump in 2016 either and then guess who did? Everybody.”
Some Democrats say that while Trump could win, the nervousness in their party is actually a good thing.
“A healthy dose of apprehension is a good thing,” said Basil Smikle, a former aide to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE who also served as the executive director of the New York State Democratic Party.
“The party needs to quickly narrow its field of contenders, embrace and support a candidate and buttress the campaigns of vulnerable House members who supported impeachment while Republicans revel in their perverse unanimity,” Smikle added. “They’ve essentially got a head start on presenting a united front to voters, albeit a warped one.”
At the same time, one Democratic operative said Trump can “definitely win” while a long and divisive primary season drags out, echoing what other strategists and donors have said in recent days even with impeachment front and center in the headlines.
Kofinis said that in the end, it’s all likely to boil down to Trump. Voters will either decide they want another four years of a president who has dominated the news cycle and attention spans of the public like few before him, or they will tire of it.
“The question is how many Americans are tired of his horrible antics and behavior,” he said. “If they are, he likely loses. If they aren’t, he likely wins.”