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My Take: Trump’s Three Biggest Current Reelection Allies
In Thursday’s Wide World of News, we ran through a list of headlines that were part of a starkly bad news cycle for the president.
There are two main metrics that matter.
Can Donald Trump get anything done for his constituents in the next fourteen months? And can Donald Trump get reelected?
For all the legitimately bad news on the first front (which of course impacts the second front), the president has three main things going for him right now:
1. Read this Politico story about Team Trump’s semi-confident reelection effort.
To be sure, it contains some cautionary notes, including this extraordinary paragraph about next week’s special House election in the Tar Heel State:
“Some Trump advisers have privately acknowledged their fear that if North Carolina’s 9th District goes Democratic, so goes the presidency next November. They say both nightmare scenarios would largely be the president’s fault, and point squarely to the controversies Trump stirred this summer — including his Twitter attack against four minority progressive congresswomen, his criticism of Baltimore as a ‘rodent-infested mess’ and unsubstantiated corruption charges against its Democratic representative, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and his conflicting statements during the G-7 summit in France.”
But the story is mostly about how the Trump campaign is leveraging the benefits of incumbency in a manner that puts it well ahead of the Democrats. I write about the real edge this gives Team Trump in “How to Beat Trump,” because this head start is an advantage that the opposition can’t diminish very much, even if the Democrats settle on a strong nominee early on.
To be sure II, all the campaign planning in the world can’t bully Trump through to reelection if the economy goes south. The latest unemployment numbers out at 8:30am ET will tell today’s incremental tale, but the longer term – say the next ten months – will fill in the more important story.
To be sure III, the media focuses much more on the prospect of recession than the possibility of sustained (but slower) growth. The New York Times has this essential reading piece laying out all the reasons that a recession is not inevitable, even if the trade wars continue at their current level.
To be sure IV, the trade war COULD get worse, as the Washington Post’s measured and brilliant David Ignatius columnizes on Trump’s war with China, echoing Tom Friedman and others in saying that the president was right to take on Beijing, but his lack of a clear strategy to guide his twist-and-turn-and-twist tactics suggests the conflict with China (which goes beyond the economy and trade to national security and defense) could escalate substantially and in fact push the U.S. and the world into recession.
2. To be sure V, I get how abnormal and dangerous it is for an American president to go for nearly a week refusing to drop his claim that Alabama was threatened by the storm. But the type of obsessive coverage exhibited over so-called Sharpie-gate and Donald Trump’s daily bleeps and bursts on this topic will help the president’s reelection chances. I won’t go into detail on this today, but I am pretty sure most readers of Wide World of News will immediately understand this point and the irony involved. The news organizations that are as obsessed with this story as the president is come across to many as rooting for Trump to lose, and that obsessing and apparent rooting will work to the president’s advantage. More on this in the coming weeks and months in this space and, again, in “How to Beat Trump.”
3. To be sure VI, a strong Democratic nominee who emerges early with ample resources, an electable platform, a united party, and the skills to tangle with Donald Trump can get to 270 electoral votes.
But if my inbox is any indication, many Democrats are worried that the party is not on track for that result. A weak general election opponent is THE main requirement that Team Trump needs to win.
Can the Democrats settle on a strong nominee in the spring?
Have the events of this week made that more likely?
My reporting since Monday suggests smart Democrats are concerned.
To be sure VII, if you think otherwise, before you start your weekend, shoot me an email with the winning scenario.
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