Is Trump the Favorite in 2020?

Is Trump the Favorite in 2020?

Some say Donald Trump is a clear favorite for re-election next year, while others insist that unless the Democrats nominate Leon Trotsky to take him on, he'll probably lose. A new CNN poll released this week found that 54% of respondents say Trump will win a second term.

There's persuasive evidence on both sides of this debate. Consider…


Trump will win, because…

  • …incumbency is a big advantage in US presidential elections. Only twice in the past 87 years (1980 and 1992) has a president lost his bid for re-election. (Note: you can't count Gerald Ford in 1976. He was never elected president in the first place.)
  • …the US economy is riding high. No president seeking re-election in the past 100 years has lost unless the US economy was in recession two years before the vote.
  • …the data is on his side. Combine the incumbency advantage with a strong economy, and you can see why a number of respected mathematical models are predicting a Trump victory.

Trump will lose because…

  • …with a president as broadly unpopular as he is, the normal rules don't apply. He's the first president in the era of modern polling who has never enjoyed an aggregate approval rating of at least 50%.
  • ...he's the least popular president of the past 38 years. On Day 867 of his presidency (Wednesday), Trump's aggregate approval rating was 41.9%. Compare that with 72.8% for George HW Bush, 62.2% for George W. Bush, 49.3% for Bill Clinton, 48.2% for Barack Obama, and 45.4% for Ronald Reagan.
  • …he's unpopular where it matters. It's the "swing states," not the national vote, that decide who wins the White House. In new polls released this week, Trump's net approval ratings (approval minus disapproval) were 0 in Florida, -4 in North Carolina, -4 in Ohio, -6 in Arizona, -7 in Pennsylvania, -12 in Iowa, -12 in Michigan, and -13 in Wisconsin. In 2016, Trump won all those states.
  • His base isn't big enough by itself to lift him to victory, while swing voters are losing faith in him. In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats won nationally by a 7-point margin – and a recent study suggests that nearly 90 percent of the national margin of victory for Democrats in those midterms came from voters who chose Trump in 2016 and then switched to Democrats two years later.

What neither side knows…

The election is still 17 months away, an eternity in today's politics. We don't know who the Democrats will nominate to run against him (Trotsky isn't available) or how independent and third-party candidates might impact the race, particularly in important individual states. We don't know what the US economy will look like—though there are early signs of pessimism--or whether an international crisis might change the US political temperature.

Buckle up: This will be a presidential race unlike any other. And the first debate among the (very many) Democratic candidates is just three weeks away.

"I think there are certain times where you have tectonic shifts and change always happens that way."

On the latest episode of 'That Made All the Difference,' Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia, shares his thoughts on the role we all have to play in bringing our communities and the environment back to health.

One of the biggest threats to 21st century international peace is invisible. It recognizes no borders and knows no rules. It can penetrate everything from the secrets of your government to the settings of your appliances. This is, of course, the threat of cyberattacks and cyberwarfare.

During the coronavirus pandemic, cyberattacks have surged, according to watchdogs. This isn't just Zoom-bombing or scams. It's also a wave of schemes, likely by national intelligence agencies, meant to steal information about the development and production of vaccines. Attacks on the World Health Organization soared five-fold early in the pandemic.

Why is the threat of cyberwarfare growing, and why isn't more being done to stop it?

Hacking is increasingly the business of nation-states. Not so long ago, hackers were mainly hooded freelancers sitting in their basements stealing credit card numbers. Now they are increasingly the employees of national intelligence services.

Why are countries investing more and more in the cyber game? For one thing, hacking is a cheap way to level the playing field with larger global rivals. For North Korea or Iran, you no longer need a powerful military in order to project power across the globe. You just need a laptop and a few good programmers. What's more, unlike missile launches or invasions, the targets can't always tell where a cyberattack has come from. Plausible deniability comes in handy, especially when attacking someone bigger than you.

Targets are getting fatter. As countries build out 5G networks, data flows will increase massively, as more than a billion more people move online over the next decade. The so-called "internet of things," the network in which everything from your watch to your (potentially self-driving) car to your refrigerator are being hooked up to the internet. (That said, huge gaps in internet access persist, as we wrote here.)

There are no rules. Conventional war has rules about whom you can and cannot attack, occupy, or imprison. They aren't always respected or enforced — but the cyber realm has very few rules, mainly because the world's major cyber powers don't want them. If you're Vladimir Putin, hacking has brought dividends that your flagging economy and mediocre military cannot. If you're the US, you're historically wary of any binding rules about the conduct of war. (If you're Gulliver, why tie yourself to the ground for the sake of Lilliput?) So, while various groups of countries have, under UN auspices, started to develop "norms" – they are not binding.

Unfortunately, it may take a catastrophe to create those rules. So far, the damage inflicted by hackers has mostly been economic. In 2017, the NotPetya virus, which targeted Ukraine, quickly spread around the globe, inflicting $10 billion worth of pain. It was, so far, the worst cyberattack in history.

But it's not hard to imagine a cyberattack on a hospital network, a power grid, or a dam that kills thousands of people and forces even more from their homes. How can those responsible be called to account? And what would it take to make future such attacks much less likely?

Will it take an event that inflicts that much human damage for governments and tech companies to sit down and hammer out cyber-rules of the road?

Malaysian political drama: Malaysia's (eternal) opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he finally has enough votes in parliament to be appointed prime minister, seven months after the coalition that was going to support him collapsed amid an internal revolt that also forced out 95-year-old Mahathir Mohamed as head of the government. Two years ago, Mahathir — who governed Malaysia from 1980 to 2003 — shocked the country by running in the 2018 election and defeating his former party UMNO, which had dominated Malaysian politics since independence in 1956. After winning, Mahathir agreed to hand over power to Anwar — a former protégé with whom he had a falling out in the late 1990s — but Mahathir's government didn't last long enough to do the swap. Will Anwar now realize his lifelong dream of becoming Malaysia's prime minister? Stay tuned for the next parliamentary session in November.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:


Why can't Europe agree on Belarus sanctions?


I think they can agree but the problem is that Cyprus has blocked. There's a veto right inside the European Union and they have blocked everything. I mean, everyone agrees, all of other Member States agrees that we should have had those sanctions in place. But the Cypriots have their own views. And then they are blackmailing, they are saying you have to sanction Turkey as well, at the same time. And most other states say there's no connection between the two. So, we do have somewhat of a constitutional crisis over foreign affairs inside the European Union. Distinctly not a good situation.

LIVE 11a - 12p ET TODAY: Will the global challenges of 2020 lead to more inclusive multilateralism in the future?

At 11a ET/8a PT/4p BST, our livestream panel, "Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding," will discuss how government, companies, citizens and other organizations can partner to solve today's major crises.

Watch at: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream

Governments can't tackle today's global challenges alone. Will 2020 be seen as a shaping moment for a more modern and inclusive multilateralism, or a retrenchment to "business as usual"?

Our panel includes:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by António Guterres, Christine Lagarde, and Trevor Noah.

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