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.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

More Show less

Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

More Show less

Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, provides his perspective on technology news:

Will the new audit of Facebook civil rights practices change the way the company operates?

Yes. It came under a lot of pressure from civil rights activists who organized an advertising boycott. And then an internal audit on Facebook's effect on civil rights came out. It was quite critical. Those two things, one after the other, will surely lead to changes at the company.

More Show less

The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.