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Presidential Politics: 2020

As we approach the end of the year, we will soon be into the actual election year of 2020. Presidential politics are ramping up and we have already seen some of the Democrat pretenders drop by the wayside.

Badge-USA-Election-2020-ThinkstockPhotos-876945862As we head into 2020, I see a difficult situation developing.  If you look at the state of the country it is pretty good. Unemployment is at record lows; manufacturing jobs and wages are reaching new highs and a majority of people believe their economic situation is better today than four years ago.  So why is President Donald Trump trailing Democrat contenders in the polls?  I believe he has the right policies for the country but is the wrong personality for the job.  The economy is growing, and the tax bill had a lot to do with that.  The Democrats have tried to paint it as something that benefitted only the wealthy but even the Washington Post gave that a bunch of Pinocchio’s in their fact checking.   I think that Trump is right on trade and the Europeans have responded to his tough talk by changing the trade policies.  He successfully negotiated a new agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada but the Democrats in the House refuse to bring it up for a vote because it would be a win for him.  China is finally coming to the table because their own economy is struggling, and they need access to the U.S. marketplace.  Trump is right on immigration even if some of the details are a bit onerous, but Congress refuses to tackle comprehensive immigration reform because Democrats want to use it as a wedge issue with Hispanic voters.

To answer the question of why Trump is trailing in the polls you only have to look at the man himself. He is combative on every issue and anyone in the administration that disagrees with him is quickly shown the door. His narcissism blinds him to the fact that many are just trying to help him and to guide him in governing the nation. He attacks fellow Republicans with impunity and then wonders why some are not quick to jump to is defense on every issue.

At the beginning of the campaign I thought, like many others, that former Vice President Joe Biden would be the Democrat nominee simply because he looked like the best choice to defeat Trump.  But Biden has continually stumbled and made gaffes on the campaign trail.  Couple that with the problems his son Hunter has brought to his effort and he is seeing his initial lead evaporate and, in the end, he will be rejected.

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Bernie Sanders ran for the second time hoping to reignite those who advocate his form of socialism and trying to connect with the younger voters who agreed with him in his last run. These young people seem to think they understand what socialism is but when quizzed they see it as something that it is not.  To many of them they see an inequality in our society and being young and idealistic they would like to find a way to correct it.  They don’t really understand what true socialism is and how it would drastically change this nation and actually remove many of the things that they hold dear. If you ask them to look at a nation such as Venezuela, once the richest nation in South America and now in complete economic collapse and chaos, they don’t seem to get the connection.  But Bernie just suffered a heart attack and his age and health will be used against him and he will fail to get the nomination and remain a bitter and angry man.

We then have the newcomer and political upstart, Pete Butigieg.  He is an interesting candidate from many aspects.  First, he has been the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and was completely unknown to 99.9% of the population until he began his run.  He is a Harvard graduate and a Rhodes Scholar. He served as an intelligence officer in the Naval Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan.  Prior to running for reelection as Mayor he announced that he was gay.  He has run a pretty good campaign but, in the end, he will be someone that we will see in the future, but he will not be the nominee this time around.

That brought Elizabeth Warren to the front and in many polls, she is now the frontrunner for the nomination.  The problem with her leading the polls is that she scares moderate and independent voters.  Her list of “free” things that she promises tells most economically sound people to shudder at what the federal deficit could become.  It is already at $23T and growing and under her proposals it could balloon to near $50T in one term.  The backstop against that is a Republican Senate but if that fell to the Democrats and she were to win then I fear we would fall into a deep recession within three years with the massive government spending programs she would offer and find support for in the Congress.

But even savvy Democrats are beginning to realize that her problem with moderate and independent voters will be a problem in defeating Trump.  A recent NYT/Sienna poll showed Trump leading Warren in several key swing states.  Among likely voters Trump leads in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.  If Trump were to maintain those leads, he would easily defeat Warren in the Electoral College.

This past week former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, announced that he would file the necessary paperwork to enter the Alabama primary.  This puts him in a longshot category because he would be skipping the early primaries.  Perhaps this was a test to see the reaction and he will jump in for Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.  But those primaries, particularly Iowa, require huge ground forces and logistics in getting voters to the caucus meetings.  But by simply announcing his intentions he signals that many Democrats are worried about how far left the party is swinging.

Predictably both Warren and Sanders came out fighting and denouncing any bid by Bloomberg.  He was called a “billionaire”, which he is, and compared to Trump as another New York billionaire trying to buy an election. But both should be worried about someone who appears to be moderate and it might not be Michael Bloomberg.  He is not popular among Democrat primary voters. But who would it be?

I suspect that the person itching to get into the race once again is Hillary Clinton.  She still holds the feeling that she was somehow robbed of the Presidency and has spent the past two plus years blaming her defeat on everyone but herself.  She is currently on the talk show tour pumping a book written by her and Chelsea. She is speaking out a bit more and I believe that she is setting the stage for a late entry.  Some of her surrogates and former campaign officials have hinted that she may be interested.  Can you just see it, Trump vs Clinton II.

If this were to happen and somehow, she regained the nomination it would set up a similar race from 2016.  Would she learn from her mistakes and campaign in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania?  I think she would campaign differently, but all of this is pure speculation about whether she would actually jump in the race and could she win a primary where the Democrat electorate has decidedly swung to the left.   All of these are difficult questions and we will see answers in the next four months.

 

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