By Henry Olsen, Columnist – The Washington Post
President Trump will officially announce that he’s running for reelection at a massive rally in Orlando on Tuesday. The early line on his chances: He’s not the favorite, but he’s far from down and out.
The leak of unfavorable reelection numbers from Trump’s own internal polling, which show him behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden in many key swing states, has triggered a rush to judgment among many analysts. While carefully acknowledging things could change, they note that Trump’s job approval rating has been negative through most of his presidency and that he trails most prospective Democratic nominees in the key Midwestern swing states he needs to win. The conclusion is easy to draw: Trump’s probably a goner, despite the strong economy.
It’s true that Trump has been historically unpopular during his tenure. While other presidents have won reelection with similarly low job approval ratings, they all have been in positive territory at some point during their presidency. What’s more, the past two incumbents who ran for reelection, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both received a share of the popular vote that was extremely similar to their job approval rating right before Election Day. Trump has never polled above 44 percent job approval for any extended stretch of his presidency. Unless that improves a lot, he’s not going to win the popular vote.
But as 2016 showed, he doesn’t have to win the popular vote to win an election. All he has to do is win 270 electoral votes, and with a coalition heavily tilted toward blue-collar white voters, he can do that with as little as 46 percent of the vote. He can hit that mark if he slightly improves his job approval and establishes a strong contrast with (read: run a very negative campaign against) his Democratic opponent.
People tend to forget that Trump won despite record-low favorable ratings because he decisively carried voters who did not like either candidate. The 2016 exit polls showed that 18 percent of all voters did not like either Trump or Hillary Clinton, and Trump carried them by a 47-30 margin. These “reluctant” Trump voters still exist, and Trump will do everything in his power to convince them to cast in with the devil they know one more time.
There’s also the issue of state-level polling error to consider. We know from exit polls that Trump tends to either be roughly as popular or somewhat more popular in the five key Midwestern battleground states — Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — than he is nationally. However, pre-election state polls from these five often underreport his strength or that of other Republican candidates. In 2018, the final state polls for gubernatorial races in Iowa and Ohio severely underestimated the support for the ultimate Republican winners. It’s possible that some pollsters have systematic errors built into their sampling or weighting that pushes GOP support below its real level.
For example, the exit poll for the 2018 election in Wisconsin showed Trump with a 48 percent approval rating there, about four points higher than his national average at the time. It was thus no surprise that incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker received roughly 48 percent of the vote in a year where straight-ticket partisan voting based on opinions of Trump was the dominant feature. How believable is it, then, that the most recent Wisconsin poll, taken in March when his national job approval rating was about 42.5 percent, showed Trump with only a 41 percent job approval rating?
We should not overestimate Trump’s chances, either. Republicans might consider a Democratic nominee to hold extreme views, but swing voters might think that person is okay. Trump’s job approval rating remains too low for Trump to win on his own merits even if possible poll error is taken into account. The hot economy could cool markedly by next year, or one of our international confrontations could turn into an armed conflict or even a war. Trump’s prospects could fade just as easily as they could improve. But improve they could, especially once there’s another person to compare him with. Gallup poll data since Richard M. Nixon have shown that presidential incumbents seeking reelection tend to improve in the polls once the general election campaign begins in earnest.
Trump defied history in 2016, becoming the first person since the disputed election of 1876 to win the electoral college while losing the popular vote by two points or more. Don’t rule out him defying history again.
Climate Crisis and the 2020 U.S. Elections
Human Wrongs Watch
By John Scales Avery – TRANSCEND Media Service*
Trump and His Party Must Be Defeated
There are so many things wrong with Donald Trump that one hardly knows where to begin. He is a racist, habitual liar, tax evader, cruel cager of infants, misogynist, narcissist, bully, violator of numerous laws, both national and international, a friend of rich oligarchs and enemy of the poor, to mention only a few of his faults. He has made the United States resemble Germany, Italy or Spain in the 1930’s, when fascism was on the rise.
However, most importantly for the future of human civilization and the biosphere, Trump has denied the reality of the climate emergency, encouraged the use of coal as well as exploration for new oil, sabotaged the Environmental Protection Agency, and withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement.
Because of the climate issue alone, it is vital for the future of humanity that he and his party should be defeated in the 2020 elections.
The Importance of Immediate Climate Action
The central problem which the world faces in its attempts to avoid catastrophic climate change is a contrast of time scales. In order to save human civilization and the biosphere from the most disastrous effects of climate change we need to act immediately.
But it is difficult to mobilize public opinion behind urgently needed action because the most severe disasters due to global warming belong to the long-term future.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in their October 2018 report, stated that global CO2 emissions must be reduced by 50% in just 12 years if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided.
What Happened in the Disastrous 2016 Election?
One is reminded of the words of Yeats: “Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity. And what rough beast, its time come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
When Senator Bernie Sanders began his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, few people believed that he could succeed. But as his campaign gained momentum, enormous crowds were attracted to his reformist speeches, and small individual donors supported his expenses.
Although the crowds at Sanders’ speeches were at least four times the size of those attending the rallies of other candidates, they were not reported in the mass media. Sanders’ campaign was also sabotaged by the corporate-controlled Democratic National Committee.
His huge popularity remains undimmed today, despite his loss in the 2016 primary. He advocates a social system for the United States similar to these which have made the Scandinavian countries leaders in both human development and human happiness indices.
Against expectations, Donald Trump who, in the words of Michael Moore, is a “wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath”, was elected in 2016. What happened?
Disillusioned by the way in which the immensely popular Senator Bernie Sanders was sabotaged by the media and by the Democratic National Committee, and despising Hillary Clinton for her involvement in US wars and Wall Street banks, many progressive voters, especially young ones, stayed away from the polls.
In their absence, Trump won narrowly. He lost the popular vote, but won the electoral vote. Today, the White House is a morass of dissension, erratic decisions and lies.
Part of the blame for what happened must fall on the cynicism and greed of the mass media, for example the CBS executive who gave Trump’s outrageous statements enormous amounts of free air time, and who said: “Donald Trump is bad for the country, but he’s good for CBS”.
The Democrats Must Not Repeat the Mistakes They Made in 2016!
The Democrats can win in 2020 if they learn from the mistakes that their leaders made in 2016. They must not repeat these mistakes, but currently they seem to be doing so. Joe Biden is a candidate who is closely analogous to Hillary Clinton.
He is tainted by associations with Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, and he has blood from US wars n his hands.
By supporting Biden, rather than progressive candidates such as Warren or Sanders, the “center-seeking” Democratic National Committee is making the same mistake that they made in 2016. They risk the same outcome: Offended and disillusioned progressive voters may stay home from the polls.
To win in 2020, the Democratic Party must be clearly progressive. They must support progressive presidential candidates; and they must strongly support rapid climate action and the Green New Deal.
*Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London.
He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 17 Jun 2019, TMS: Climate Crisis and the 2020 U.S. Elections