by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Here’s a fun New Year’s prediction for you: The 2020 presidential campaign will be even uglier than the 2016 contest.
In part, that’s due to President Trump’s incumbency. In 2016, Trump almost surely did not think he’d win. Throughout his campaign, he would drop hints about an “exit strategy.” Exiles and members in good standing of Trump World admit both on and off the record that his was a protest candidacy or a publicity stunt.
In other words, President Trump in 2020 has a lot more to lose than Candidate Trump had in 2016.
Second, there’s no evidence that Trump has matured — “grown,” in D.C. parlance — with the job. He insists that being “presidential” is not an option because that would be “boring.” His willingness to use the nearest weapon to hand, rhetorically, is undiminished. But the resources at his disposal — both his official powers and his ability to employ traditional and social media — are greatly enhanced. Candidate Trump could not pressure a foreign power to help muddy a political opponent. President Trump could and almost certainly did.
Third, unlike in 2016, when he was executing a hostile takeover of a party and a conservative media establishment that simultaneously disliked him and underestimated him, Trump now has the support of both.
Last, the Trump presidency, unlike the Reagan presidency, has not elicited from the Democrats the kind of seriousness of mind about electability that pulled the Democrats back to the center. In response to Trump’s election, the Democrats have even moved to the left of Barack Obama. …