by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What are Donald Trump’s chances for reelection in 2020?
If history is any guide, pretty good.
In early 1994, Bill Clinton’s approval rating after two years in office hovered around a dismal 40 percent. The first midterm elections of the Clinton presidency were an utter disaster. …
… It was no wonder that Republicans thought the 1996 presidential election would be a Republican shoo-in. But Republicans nominated 73-year-old Senate leader Bob Dole, a sober but otherwise uninspired Washington fixture.
By September of 1996, “comeback kid” Clinton had a Gallup approval rating of 60 percent. Dole was crushed in an Electoral College landslide.
Barack Obama was given a similarly dismal prognosis after the 2010 midterms, when Democrats lost 63 House seats and six Senate seats. Republicans regained majority control of the House, though Democrats clung to a narrow majority in the Senate. At the time, Obama had an approval rating in the mid-40s. …
… What is the significance of these rebound stories for Trump, who had a better first midterm result than either Clinton or Obama and similarly low approval ratings?
People, not polls, elect presidents.
Presidents run for reelection against real opponents, not public perceptions. For all the media hype, voters often pick the lesser of two evils, not their ideals of a perfect candidate.
We have no idea what the economy or the world abroad will be like in 2020. And no one knows what the country will think of the newly Democrat-controlled Congress in two years.