Thursday, November 07, 2019

WHAT IF 2020 IS 1972?

The Washington Examiner's Timothy Carney looks at Tuesday's election results (and the results of other elections since 2016) and draws some conclusions:
Since Trump’s shocking upset win in November 2016, the story of politics in America has been pretty simple: Democrats win, Republicans lose.

The explanation is pretty simple, too: Trump has made Trump voters, but not Republicans, out of working-class independents and Democrats, and he has made Democratic voters out of independents and Republicans. Trump has also motivated Democrats to unprecedented levels.

... Trump’s core supporters — the type of people he brought out of the political woodwork to give him victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin — still aren’t Republicans. They’re just Trump voters. And that doesn’t mean they’ll listen to Trump’s endorsements, either. It means they’ll vote for Trump, and that’s it.

... While Trump didn’t bring working-class white America into the GOP, he has caused a partisan realignment elsewhere: driving upper-middle-class white America out of the GOP.

For Trump, it may look like an even trade: lose the wealthy whites and gain the working-class whites. But for the rest of his party, it’s one-sided: lose the wealthy whites but don’t gain anything.
This doesn't mean Republicans have stopped winning in Republican areas (apart from the ones who've alienated their voters, like Kentucky governor Matt Bevin). But the suburbs are going Democratic, and Trump often can't save a Republican who's on course to lose.

Trump, however, still inspires voter loyalty to himself. That raises the possibility that even though he's doing harm to the Republican Party, he could win again in 2020.

I'm not saying he will win. I think a Democratic victory, possibly even a rout, is a strong possibility.

But he might win. MAGA turnout will be strong. Democrats can beat Trump if they're unified and motivated to vote, but Democrats could well have reluctant voters within their coalition: progressives who don't like Biden, moderates who don't like Warren, black voters who don't see Buttigieg as an ally.

So 2020 could be like 1972. I don't mean that Trump could win in a landslide -- that won't happen, and he probably won't even win the popular vote -- but he could win without helping his party much. (In 1972, Democrats lost 13 House seats but maintained a 242-192 majority, while Republicans actually lost two Senate seats, leaving Democrats with a 14-seat majority.)

Trump could win while doing little or no damage to the Democrats' House majority. Democrats might even make gains in the Senate. (Seats in Maine and Colorado look awfully vulnerable.)

If Trump wins again, he'll be even more unhinged in his second term than he is now -- and remember, the last Republican president wasn't unhinged and yet misread his second-term mandate on a host of issues: Social Security privatization, Terri Schiavo, Katrina, staying the course in Iraq. It will be awful if Trump is reelected, but it won't be a sign that most of America likes him, and I think he'll try to get away with even more outrageous acts.

He won't get away with them. If he wins, it will be in part because the economy remained reasonably strong -- and that can't last forever. He'll eventually face a recession, which will coincide with his worst offenses to the Constitution and to the sensibilities of decent people. I think he'll do something that inspires calls for a second impeachment, and if the economy is cooling, public support for it might get past the mid-50s. Impeachment or not, Republicans will probably suffer a bloodbath at the polls in 2022.

It would still be much better to get rid of Trump now, but if he wins again, he won't be able to savor his victory for long.

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