by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When you talk to people who think Trump will be re-elected, they point to conventional rules about how a good economy makes voters want to stay the course. That’s superficially plausible, but it leaves out the single most important fact of the political landscape: Trump’s personality.
A good economy doesn’t necessarily speak for itself. Normal presidents stay on message to deny the press the ability to talk about more interesting stuff. The only talking point Trump can be counted on to stick to is himself. Hence, his claim to Stephanopoulos that no one has been treated worse than him.
Trump doesn’t want the election to be about the economy, he wants it — and everything else — to be about him. His exchange with Stephanopoulos was an analogue of every Trump rally. He runs through the talking points about the economy or conservative judges as quickly as possible so he can get to the really important topic: Donald Trump.
The problem for Trump is that if the central question of the election is him, he will lose because he is not popular. …
… [T]he meaning of these polls is that some voters could be persuaded to vote for Trump if they could be convinced they were voting on issues rather than Trump. For that to work, Trump would have to stop acting like Trump and make the message about something other than him. That’s a tall order.